Friday, 19 August 2022

Let's Get Down to Business: Fiona Price, Little Bells of Henley

Let's Get Down to Business: Fiona Price, Little Bells of Henley

FIONA PRICE, co-founder of bell tent hire company Little Bells of Henley, grew up in Henley and attended Trinity Primary School, Gillotts and Sir William Borlase’s Grammar School in Marlow followed by the University of Sussex. After 15 years in London, she returned to Henley this year. Fiona is married with two children, age five and eight. She loves “anything involving being outside”.

Describe your business

Little Bells of Henley creates beautifully styled children’s parties. We offer luxe picnics, tea parties and bell tents to hire for celebrations, sleepovers etc.

How many people does it employ?

My business partner Charlotte Pudney and I are hands-on for every booking from initial concept to installation. We have a small support team of wonderful people to work with us on the larger-scale set-ups.

What did you do before you started this business?

I enjoyed 20-plus years in industry-leading events involving iconic luxury venues. I’ve produced hundreds of high-end events and led the launch of several spaces, including the Saatchi Gallery on the King’s Road, Chelsea, where I was director of events for seven years, and the relaunch of the Roundhouse in Camden after a £30 million renovation. I was director of venues for GSP in London, a boutique events agency. I made the jump into self-employment at FP-Events.UK after I had my first little child.

When did you start your business?

We have only been going three months but the response we’ve had has been amazing.

What was your objective?

To create something exciting and inspire the memory-making that we are all capable of. Over the past two years people have wanted new ways to enjoy their homes and gardens and we want to help them do that.

Do you have a mentor or role model?

I’ve learnt at least one new thing from everyone I’ve met, in business and socially.

What would you do differently if you could start again?

I try not to spend too much energy on hindsight unless the lessons can really be put to use.

What impact did the coronavirus pandemic have on your business?

Covid put an abrupt stop to events in 2020 when I was just days from opening a global event after months of planning. As with many industries and livelihoods, the events and venues industry came to a grinding halt. It was then stop/start before most of us adapted and managed to get back on our feet. The Little Bells of Henley model itself was largely born from how enjoyable simple outdoor or home-hosting can be.

How do you market your business/service?

Social media and our existing networks but, more importantly, word of mouth.

What’s the best thing about running your own business?

Creating joyful experiences for others, the excitement and the sense of reward.

What’s the most challenging aspect?

Variety and unpredictability.

Where is your business headed?

As FP-Events.UK I still produce events in London and around the UK. However, this summer is about kicking off Little Bells of Henley.

Do you have a five-year plan?

There are a number of potential avenues and once we’ve caught our breath from our launch, we will be reviewing these over a bottle of something chilled and sparkling.

What would you advise someone starting a business?

Find something you’re passionate about because you will need more energy than you can imagine. Be prepared to push up your sleeves and turn your hand to anything. It’s also handy to try to find peace with the rollercoaster of being out of your comfort zone in some areas and totally in your stride in others.

What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made?

Caring about opinions of people who don’t know me.

How organised are you?

Extremely. My family wouldn’t want me to be more organised than I am!

What’s the secret of your success?

I haven’t got to the point I will measure that. Maybe in about 30 years…

How do you dress for work each day?

It varies enormously depending on what I’m doing but it’s really important for whatever state of mind is needed for a particular job.

What can’t you be without every day?

My husband and children and touch points with at least some of my lovely big wider family and friends. Either the bustle of London life or birdsong and a green view, ideally interchangeably over the week.

Lunch at your desk or going out?

Wherever, usually on the fly.

Do you continue to study?

Yes, I am always trying to grow, develop and upskill, sometimes through interest and at other times because it’s essential for the next goal.

What do you read?

I love reading almost more than anything else. My children and I read to each other every day, even if we can only squeeze in a few minutes and I listen to readers at school whenever I can. I don’t get much time for myself at the moment but if I do then biographies or fiction; light, dark, funny, anything really, and usually recommendations to save time-wasting. I’ve just finished reading two very different books from two Borlase friends, Freya Sampson and Max Porter. I also tend to devour the news when I flop down after bedtime duties before I can muster the energy for cooking or a little more work.

How are you planning for retirement?

I doubt I’ll ever really stop. If I do then there will probably be an events schedule involved.

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