My Business Story
I’m Ffion, the face behind the Proven-Salle business. I’m a wife, a mother, paint and upholstery enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur. In this month’s blog, I thought I’d share a little about my business and how it all began.
So, let’s go back to 2016. I was working in London as a Management Consultant for a global consultancy firm. I’d been working there since graduating in 2002 and it was the only career I’d ever known. The work was great; it was always varied and presented incredible opportunities to travel around the world. The thought of ever leaving my “work family” was not something I’d really thought about. That is, until I had children.
In 2014, we had our first child and after one year’s maternity leave, I went back to work on a part-time basis. Then in June 2016, I gave birth to our second child. I took maternity leave and had planned to return to consulting in the Summer of 2017. But as the months went on, I started to anguish over how to balance work with family life. I wanted to give my all to my work, but I also wanted to give my all to my family. What’s more, I had a deep-rooted passion for interiors (particularly French interiors) which I’d never had chance to fully explore. I’d always dreamed of running a furniture business. To be truthful, I don’t know if it was even a dream. I had mentioned it the way you mention something that sounds good to do someday, but you doubt you’ll ever really do it. People would often tell me that I had an "eye for interiors" and would ask me to help with upholstery and painting projects. And then when we moved to a house that happened to have a workshop, I couldn't believe my luck! I now had the space to really venture into the world of furniture restoration and upholstery. It looked like the stars were starting to align but I still didn’t dare to leave my job. At that time, I was the breadwinner in our relationship and work was our safety net. What if setting up my own business didn’t work? It felt like my work life was coming to a crossroads. I needed to make some changes and test out my dream, before fully committing to it.
In May 2017, work kindly granted me one year’s leave of absence, which meant that my job would still be there if I wanted to return in 2018. During this time, when the children slept or were in their 2 days of nursery, I worked on setting up a little business and Proven-Salle was born. I launched slowly (on Facebook at first) and initially had no website. I would share photos of projects and ideas on interiors and my audience started to grow. After one year in business, I felt confident that Proven-Salle could keep growing and I handed in my notice on my 16-year career.
Since officially launching in 2017, Proven-Salle has made great strides and I am really proud of everything that’s been achieved. In 2018, just a year after launching, Proven-Salle was awarded “Small Business Sunday” by Theo Paphitis. In 2020, we made our way onto the Small Biz 100 List for the U.K. (supported by Small Business Saturday and American Express). And in 2021, we were finalists in both the Muddy Stiletto Awards and the SME National Business Awards.
Proven-Salle will always be a family-run business and the whole family pulls together to make the cogs turn: my husband, children, sister, brother-in-law and parents all have a role to play! I’m especially grateful for all the support at home, particularly when there's constant furniture re-arranging in pretty much every room of the house!. I love that the children are so involved, too; I think it’s teaching them to think like independent workers and be more open-minded about their own futures. But most importantly, Proven-Salle allows me to be with the children and to participate in their lives, whilst also letting me be "me" and chase a life-long dream.
When running a small business, you can’t take anything for granted. I’m eternally grateful for the loyal customers and for the amazing support that Proven-Salle has been shown over the years. I still don’t think I can fully articulate the change that happened within me when I started my own business. But I think this quote from Theo Paphitis is a pretty good summary: “Life will rarely present you with opportunities that are ripe for the picking so when it does, it’s vital you believe you have what it takes to run with it and make it a success”.