Irish Women in Business: Sarah Drumm of Dust
Dust was conceived by friends Sarah Drumm and Lisa Marconi who met in London over 10 years ago and both share a passion for interior design. As soon as the pair started talking interiors they realised how similar their aesthetics were and that's when they came up with the idea for Dust. They wanted to add something different to the already buzzy interiors scene here. So they decided to open their shop, Dust, and use that as a jumping off point for all the other directions they wanted to go in creatively. Here, Her.ie chats with Sarah about inspiration, motivation and making it work.
What is your background? Where did you grow up and is there a history of entrepreneurship in your family?
I grew up in Dublin and studied Arts in UCD after leaving school, I then moved to London and worked in Marketing for 6 years. I had often thought about going back to study interior design, but it wasn’t until 2010 that I finally bit the bullet. My brother Pete had gone back to study furniture design and had gone on to set up his own company, Ingrained, which definitely inspired me to go for it.
What was your first indication that this would be the career for you?
I initially signed up to an evening course in interior design while still working in my marketing job, as I wanted to make sure I liked it and had an aptitude for it before actually giving up my job and going back to study full time. I absolutely loved the course and just knew it was time to face my fears and take the leap!
Where and what did you study?
I studied interior design at London’s KLC School of Design, their courses are predominantly geared towards people wanting to make the career change into design, and so it was ideal for me.
At what age did you first suspect you would eventually go into business for yourself?
I was in my late 20s when I first started thinking about changing careers and it was at that stage that I hoped it would lead to me doing my own thing.
Did you pursue other careers before launching your business?
After graduating from KLC I worked as an interior designer for three years in a design consultancy, Four-by-Two, in London before moving home to Dublin in 2013.
What were your goals when you set up your business?
Both Lisa and myself had a very clear direction of where we wanted the business to go. We wanted to establish Dust as the go to shop where our customers could find unusual products for the home. We also wanted the shop to become a calling card for our interior design consultancy and our faux flower offering. We felt the shop would give our customers a view of our aesthetic and lead to design work as well as showing off our faux flowers which would lead to us providing a flower styling service for both weddings and the leisure and commercial industry.
What challenges have you faced thus far?
Initially we thought we would never find a suitable location for our second pop-up shop, which we held back in December. But we ended up being really lucky and in the end not only did we find a place for our pop-up, but it also became our permanent space. It’s a gorgeous old building with a beautiful shop front.
Do you think there are certain challenges that are unique to women who set up their own business?
To some extent, it is definitely dependent on the field you’re looking to set up in. Perhaps more traditionally male-dominated industries would be more challenging but my experience has been a very positive one. I think there are so many women out there doing it now, and doing it well, that there is a lot of peer-to-peer support for women wanting to set up their own business from other women already doing it.
What do you consider your greatest achievement to date?
Setting up Dust with Lisa has certainly been my biggest achievement to date. It has been hard work, but it’s so worth it when you see it all come together.
What is your favourite/least favourite part of your job?
Having to shift locations and stock around from pop up to pop up has been my least favourite part of the job so far, its so nice to have a permanent space now!
What is a typical working day for you?
There isn’t really a typical day each day is quite varied. I could be working in the shop dealing with customers, which is great, as it’s so nice to have a conversation and get feedback. Or Lisa and myself might be upstairs in the office working on one of the design projects we have in at the moment, pulling together moodboards or doing drawings, or we might be working in the flower room on arrangements for a client. There is certainly enough going on to keep us both busy and interested!
Where do you find inspiration for your designs?
Magazines, blogs, trade fairs such as Maison & Objet as well as fashion.
Where do you go when you’re shopping – what is your favourite designer/high street store?
If I’m shopping for homewares I love Industry and CA Design, for fashion I love COS on the high street and BT2’s for designers such as Maje and Sandro.
Are there any other women in business that you look up to?
There are lots of women setting up there own thing here in Dublin who have inspired me, including Heather Thornton from Along Came A Spider, Carol-Anne Leyden from CA Design and Lucy Nagle from Lucy Nagle Designs.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Sleep on it, things always look better in the morning!
What advice would you give to other Irish women who wish to get into business for themselves?
Listen to your instincts, follow your gut and go for it!
What are your plans and ambitions for the future?
Making dust into the go to place in Dublin for unique and stylish interiors. Growing our flower and interior design business. Hopefully moving into product design in the future.
Following a hugely successful stint as a pop-up shop, Dust reopens at its new and permanent home this month. You'll find Sarah and Lisa at 4 Camden Market, Grantham Street, Dublin 8. For more, see www.dust.ie.