Dec 2015
Sloane Home: The Secret Ingredient To Start-Up Success
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Sloane Home founder Leanne Johns unveils her personal reasons for setting up her business and her passion for British craft heritage. Discover her ‘secret ingredient’…

Leanne, why did you create Sloane Home?

In a world of mass production, I support the art of all things made by hand. We’re blessed to collaborate with experienced, talented master crafts men and women throughout Britain. I love working with gifted people who are as passionate about what they do as I am. This passion can be felt in our Sloane brand.

This resonates with the team at Carbon! What are the Sloane Home creations?

I started off redesigning and upholstering antique furniture and soft furnishings. Through this work, I met lots of clever artists and craftspeople. Together, we’ve developed a real range of luxury products.

Our friends – who are candle-makers to HRH Prince Charles – make our candles in an idyllic ancient mill in the heart of Wales. The wax is blended and poured by hand. Modern machinery simply can’t replicate this kind of art.

I make my own infused Sloane tipples. There’s a lip-smacking raspberry & lime gin called Sloane Spirit. Another big favourite is Sloane Zesty – clementine, lemon and lime Vodka. With our cocktail recipes, you can turn the tipples into works of art!  They’ve proved popular and a lot of fun at events. We’ve recently introduced corporate hampers, full to the brim with our Sloane treats.

Another warming new addition is our clothing line – cashmere & wool fur capes. We design the capes, a talented welsh tailor creates them for us, and a London Fashion College trained furrier crafts the fur trimming.

What makes Sloane Home stand out?

Quality and legacy. We’re building an ethos within our brand – that’s our secret ingredient. Our capes can be handed down the generations. The antique reupholstered furniture improves with time and use. Our products create their own history. Even after the bottle of Sloane Spirit has been drunk, the bottle makes a lovely keep-sake.

What did you do prior to starting Sloane Home?

I worked in the property industry for 16 years. My roles have ranged from estate agent to developer and landlord. I’ve always loved the property world – it’s in my blood. My dad’s an architect, my husband and sister are both surveyors with their own successful firms and my other sister is a letting agent. I got a real buzz from the art of renovating. I always did more than was expected, using finer finishes. This led to quicker sales and good offers regularly over the asking price. I quickly realised that people appreciate quality, so they are often prepared to pay a premium.

What made you take the leap to a new business?

After having my first son, I suffered with post-natal depression. It was completely heart-breaking and debilitating. How could I be struck by this illness, when I’d always been such an independent person? Travelling extensively alone, I’d lived on a shoestring in outback Australia, Japan, New Zealand. I even worked as a horse trader! These experiences were all so colourful and challenging. That’s why it was a bolt out of the blue when I found myself feeling helpless, despite being safe in this wonderful world.

I’m grateful that signing up to a few creative courses helped me. These ‘hobbies’ have ended up being the foundation of my business. My family and friends encouraged me to use my talents – but I knew I could never equal the professionals who spend years perfecting their trade. So now I work in partnership with expert craftspeople and design unique products, developing a brand that I hope people will love.

How does it feel to start a new business?

There have been challenging moments. It’s a completely new industry for me, and there are so many facets to my role! Making and packaging our products, photo shoots, the website, social media, just getting yourself out there, choosing the right events to promote and sell our products. And of course there’s the business side of things; developing the Sloane product range. Juggling family duties is another challenge. At times it’s exhausting.

What has kept you going?

Friends and family have supported me along the way. Luckily my sister-in-law Alex has joined me, and we muck in together. Alex runs the events side of the business. It’s early days for us but we’re both really passionate about Sloane. That’s our driving force. I am truly amazed and humbled by the huge support I have had from other women. They have been a tremendous support.

What changes do you see in the retail market?

Everyone’s so busy! We shop online more. As a treat, family and friends get together at events like Kirstie Allsop’s ‘Hand Made Fair’ or Radio Times Festival, which we attended this year. Events like these are a great way to multi-task! You can spend time with loved ones whilst catching up on a bit of special-interest shopping.

What advice would you give to someone setting up?

Have a go! If you’re passionate about something, take a chance and throw yourself into it. You never know what might happen. I can guarantee you’ll meet extraordinary people –and that’s what leads to new adventures.

Now that old chestnut – where would you like your business to be in 5 years?

It would be wonderful to find a business mentor who shares a passion for the Sloane ethos and help us to grow. I would also like Sloane to support a charity that helps women suffering post-natal depression – there’s a light at the end of the tunnel and I am proof of it.