Jade Golding set up website The Little Deer, which sells a collection of independent fashion, lingerie and homeware brands, while still in her final year of university. She talks to Drapers about the challenges of starting out on your own and the importance of supporting smaller brands.
Making up orders for the website is the first thing I do when I wake up in the morning. I like to get it out of the way early. What I’m doing each day really depends on the time of the year. I might be setting up a stall at a festival, or scouting locations and models for a photoshoot.
I always carry my laptop and phone because my team have to be able to contact me at any time. I like to keep magazines such as Frankie, Ethereal and The Gentlewoman at my desk for inspiration.
I set up The Little Deer when I was at university. I’d always worked for small independent businesses and found myself voicing my frustrations to my dad. When he first suggested I set up my own business, I thought it was hilarious. However, it was actually easy to do alongside my studies and when I finished university, I decided to have a real go at it.
A big part of The Little Deer is supporting independent brands and designers. On Saturdays, we trade at Netil Market in Hackney. It gives me the chance to meet other young designers and to bounce ideas off them. They can relate to any challenges I might be facing and give better advice than friends and family can.
The biggest hurdle when I first started The Little Deer was persuading brands to be part of the website, especially at the beginning when the business was small. You need to build up relationships, be friendly and remember to keep in contact. Being present at events gives you the chance to meet people face to face. I also set up the website single- handedly, so figuring out the balance between work and rest was a challenge. It’s important to have breaks, to step back and analyse. At first, I didn’t know when to stop.
The advice I would give to anyone wanting to start their own business is to just do it. Remember that not everything will be perfect and don’t be scared to jump in at the deep end. Also, remember to set yourself realistic deadlines.
Being my own boss is perfect for me, because I like to be in control and I can be quite bossy. Getting to choose which hours I work is another bonus. It’s definitely the hard way, but I think you learn more.
Organisation is absolutely key to starting your own business. It sounds really boring, but if you’re not organised it can have a very detrimental effect on the business. Good time management is also essential.
The best thing about my job is being able work with creative and inspirational people, who are incredible at what they do. It’s a great moment when our individual skills come together to produce something special.
We also make our own range of interiors. Currently, we only wholesale to a couple of shops, but our aim is to start working with stores all over the country and, eventually, the world. We’re hoping to increase our brand holding and to continue offering exclusive collaborations – we recently worked with lingerie designers. We outgrew our last office in just four months and things are happening faster than we thought. There’s a lot to do, so I’m also looking to employ some more permanent staff.
My career highlight would have to be the fact I’m doing what I’ve always wanted to do. Designing and making is something I’ve worked hard at for so long and now I get to do it on a daily basis.
MY OTHER CAREER
I’d have to stay in retail! I’ve always liked the idea of being a brand rep, because you get to travel and show off the new collections to stores.
2015-present Designer for The Little Deer in-house interiors
2012-present Owner/founder at The Little Deer
2007-2012 Shop assistant and designer at Forty Five Clothing, Plymouth
2003-2006 Web Assistant and photographer at Urban Industry, Eastbourne
2012 Graduated with a BA (Hons) Design: Photography from Plymouth University