Tuesday, 05 July 2022
ANNE HAIMES is the founder and design director of Anne Haimes Interiors in Bell Street, Henley. After studying textiles, she worked for a large interior design consultancy before setting up her own business. She is a member of the British Institute of Interior Design. Anne lives in Henley with her husband David, founder of the Henley Coaching Partnership, and their four children. Anne has a passion for architecture and design and loves travel, yoga and walking the family dog, Bosco.
Describe your business
We are an interior design consultancy specialising in luxury refurbishment and project management. We serve clients across the Home Counties and London as well as further afield.
How many people does it employ?
We have four full-time designers and an operations director.
What did you do before you started this business?
While I was working at Claude Hooper, a design consultancy, I travelled all over the country and was involved in high-end design. Then my husband, who was working for Shell, was transferred to Madrid so I went with him. We stayed there for two years and I worked on design projects. When we returned to the UK we decided to settle in Henley as David was then working in London. Initially, I worked from home before opening my first showroom in Duke Street, where I stayed for 11 years before moving to Bell Street, where we have been for the last 10 years.
When did you start your business?
What was your objective?
When I began my career, design was seen as something for a limited number of high-net-worth people. I wanted to make it more accessible and available.
Who or what influenced you?
My father was a very successful architect and in my holidays I would help at his office as I wanted to learn about architecture. He was hugely supportive of me when I set up my company and provided invaluable advice.
What would you do differently if you could start again?
When I moved to Bell Street I separated the retail from the interior design practice and asked myself why I hadn’t done that years ago.
What impact is the coronavirus pandemic having on your business?
It didn’t have a particularly adverse effect. We had been working on updating our systems and processes several months prior so we were prepared. We were able to work from home and still allowed to go on site because the Government wanted to keep the construction industry going.
How is your business doing compared with last year?
People were quicker to make decisions last year because they were stuck in their homes with fewer distractions. The supply chain is currently challenging so we are staying focused on keeping on top of orders and lead times.
How do you market your business?
Our number one source of new clients is through word of mouth but we do get lots from our website.
What’s the best thing about running your own business?
It has got to be the people I work with and the people I meet.
What’s the most challenging aspect?
Ensuring that everyone understands attention to detail is important. The delays in supplies and sourcing what is on people’s “wish lists” causes challenges.
Where is your business headed?
The lease has expired on our boutique so we are moving everything to our showroom, which is on the opposite side of the road and open for anyone to drop in. We have also developed a personal shopping service called Interior Concierge, which can be accessed through our website.
How important are online sales?
We don’t sell anything online but our website is very important.
What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned?
You must be prepared to navigate and adjust plans when necessary.
What would you advise someone starting a business?
Follow your passion, set goals and be prepared to work hard.
What three qualities are most important to success?
Commitment, integrity and empathy.
What’s the secret of your success?
I’m very driven. I’ve always had ambition and I love a challenge.
What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made?
All mistakes provide an opportunity to learn and then move on.
How organised are you?
How do you dress for work each day?
I like being smart and well-dressed. On site I have to wear appropriate clothing and a hard hat but when presenting I wear heels as I’m tiny.
What can’t you be without every day?
My family and my mobile phone.
Lunch at your desk or going out?
On the run.
Do you continue to study?
Yes, the industry and technology is changing all the time. I have to do a mandatory amount of Continuous Professional Development each year.
What do you read?
Mainly historic novels, especially those that are based on art, and biographies and autobiographies of designers. I love the Bell Bookshop whose staff always have great recommendations. I read the Henley Standard.
How are you planning for retirement?
I’ll never stop designing.
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