For our first blog for May 2023, I have interviewed Sarah Clark, Founder and Design Principal, here at Interiors at Nine to Eleven
As a self-proclaimed Inspirational Supernova, I asked what makes an Inspirational Supernova tick?
A fellow Inspirational Supernova once gave me a very wise piece of advice, which has formed the foundation for my behaviour in my adult years:
“FOUNTAINS AND DRAINS”
“There are two types of people in this world” she said, Fountains and Drains..
The Fountains elegantly move, showing their beauty, evolving and changing using energy in motion.
The drains well they just channel the dirt and the gloom remaining stagnant.
We are all faced with challenges throughout our lives, and it is our choice how we react to them. I choose to be a fountain………
Can you tell us about your early life?
From an early age, I suppose I showed pearls of wisdom and in my close relationships became renowned for being the capable one, with great advice, knowledge and humour! I was always positive and when life threw me the curve balls, I dug deep and lead my close ones into better times. My mates always used me as the agony aunt, a constant support; the one that got them home after too much Pernod and Black!! (well it was the early nineties!)
My career began in Interior Design following my college years.
I secured an apprenticeship in a private practise and was mentored by a fantastic Interior Designer. I returned to University and completed my studies in Interior Design. I developed my skills throughout the departments and enjoyed the beginning of a great career in the industry until family commitments changed the course of my career.
For years I supported the family business helping my husband at the time establish his dream contracting business. I did this whilst assisting with every element needed to grow and develop a company all the while constantly listening and developing my business skills.
During this time, we were fortunate enough to be blessed with my beautiful daughter, born in the August of 2005. Motherhood and full-time business manager proved challenging, so I found then my organisational skills were highly effective! Eventually it was time for me to shine. The creative bones in my body needed nourishment, my gift as an Interior Designer needed to be exercised! So, then my career truly began.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Being the Supernova that I am, it was never an option not to be my own boss! Motivated by my parents who began with cardboard in their shoes, building their own business into a multi-million-pound organisation, my ambition was always to be the head of my own organisation. I had learnt from truly inspirational, self-made people to always be kind, take time to listen, have constant attention to detail and to always refine and develop my skills.
How did Interiors at Nine to Eleven begin?
In July 2006, I identified an opportunity to buy a business in my home town. I believed it would have the platform necessary so that I could develop it into my Interior Design company. I purchased the remaining assets of what was previously a small soft furnishing company, identified the strengths within the business and secured these relationships and environments and in September 2006, launched “Stitches Interiors Ltd”.
On a beautiful September day, my nine-month-old packed off to Granny’s, I stood for the first time in my humble fabric library with one full time staff member, one part-time and a work room on standby, hoping for someone to come in the door, they did… IT WAS AMAZING! Not only did people come, but they engaged with me, got excited about what we could do and by the end of the day my diary was already booked for the forthcoming weeks! The business had hit the ground running and, my creative cup flowed!
I developed the business over the next few years, expanding my workforce and multiplying my manufacturing and fitting team. I forged relationships with clients that are regular clients still today and I secured high profile contracts all over the country. In 2011, the demand was at such a high that I expanded the business into a luxury Interior Design showroom and Lifestyle store. Interiors at Nine to Eleven, situated a few doors away from the original Stitches showroom, was created as a beautiful retail showroom giving a visual platform accrediting our work whilst offering lifestyle gifts and accessories and itself a destination.
After two years we merged the fabric library into the Interiors showroom which created a fabulous design studio environment, brimming with creativity.
The new showroom was well received, the business was soaring, however I couldn’t get through the demand. I had created momentum and needed the backup to support the workload.
What are the key things that you do that drive you forward and give you the lust for life?
I embraced the challenges and the changes. I recognised the need to improve and adapt to achieve the business solutions, so I invested in advice and created a team of superstars. I lead my Superstar team by example. I believe in team and supporting each other to achieve our goals.
I am truly passionate about design. Striving for individuality constantly creates exciting fresh ideas. My enthusiasm for interiors is limitless and this is part of what produces truly distinctive results in my business.
I read, learn and teach my team something new every day, finding something motivational to focus on daily creates a positive environment for everyone. Always optimistic, this positive energy creates a wonderful upbeat happy place, so we have great fun whilst getting the job done!
I currently directly employ 7 staff at the Interiors showroom, 3 subcontract soft furnishing outworkers, 2 Upholsterers, a fitter within the Interiors business.
I project manage sites, leading all tradespeople and design teams. I also run an Industrial Building Letting company and at home continue to renovate my ever evolving Georgian farmhouse. I’m fortunate to have my beautiful daughter, and now extended my family alongside my wonderful partner Mark, 3 more children and 1 Granddaughter! And of course not forgetting the naughty black Labradors.. All requiring differing levels of support and guidance!
How would you sum yourself up?
I feel privileged and am grateful for the opportunities I have seized. I love to lead and create a working environment where fellow inspirational Superstars can shine I get great pleasure from motivating and sharing positive energy with others and truly believe in the power of positive affirmation. I have hundreds of I am statements and I say them to myself every day!
I don't know about anyone else but I certainly feel inspired after this conversation... so thank you Sarah !
My final question is to you readers... Are you an Inspirational Supernova?