From employee to entrepreneur: my story.
Whenever I was asked the question, "If you could do anything, what would you do?"
My answer was always the same. I was obsessed with anything to do with property. Renovating property, decorating, styling, interiors, buying, selling, all of it.
At this point though, I was the clinical lead of Intensive Care Physiotherapy at an acute hospital. A world away from the creative design industry.
Having spent years focusing my education on science-based subjects in order to get into University and then with the goal of getting ‘a proper job’, a career for life if you like and working my way up the ladder - it seemed like I was destined to work in the NHS until I retired at 68 😆
As I got older and then went on to have kids, I started to question this assumed destiny. “Did I really want to work in the NHS until I was nearly 70?” “Did I really want to keep wishing that I had done something else?” I just couldn’t shake my desire to explore interior design.
It took me almost 3 years of research, planning, discussions with my husband, Harry, doubting myself, telling myself to ‘forget it’, then cycling back around to it for me to take the leap and sign up for my first interior design course.
I literally felt so sick when I hit that ‘pay now’ button. I had a lot of self-doubt at this point. Worrying whether or not I could even do it, whether I was any good, what people would think, what if I failed?
But I just told myself, just do the course. See what happens. If anything, it’s just a bit of extra knowledge in something I’m interested in. I totally had to take the pressure off and just put one foot in front of the other.
At the point of clicking that button and committing myself to going “back to school” for 6 months to learn the ropes of interior design, it was November 2020.
We were living at my mother-in-law’s, having sold our house whilst waiting for our new one to be built. I had a 5-month-old and a 2.5 year old and we had just gone back into another covid-19 lockdown. It was a lot.
Even though it didn’t seem like the ideal time 😆 I knew that there would always be something stopping me unless I just went for it. It was also a fairly significant amount of money to take the course and if I didn’t throw myself into it with everything I had, I would always wonder “What if?” It was my one chance to change my path. If not now, then when?
I knew there would be some sacrifices. I was willing to work hard. I was prepared to give everything I could to make it work. But I genuinely had absolutely no idea what was about to hit me!
In the months that followed, it did hit me. Hard. By day, I was mum to an 8-month-old and a 2-year-old, but every night once the babies were asleep I was grafting. I would work from 7pm until 11pm every single night. My husband, Harry would cook dinner and bring it to me in the office, where I would eat as I studied. Every Saturday we had a group call which could last anywhere between 2 and 4 hours. I threw everything I had into that course. Everything I was told to do, I did, without question. I put my full trust in the process and slowly, very slowly started to believe that my dream might be possible.
By June 2021, Dani Pyant Interiors had been born. I was nervous, excited and full of hope. I was also returning to my job in the NHS after maternity leave and adjusting to life as a working mum-of-2. Commuting 45 minutes to and from the hospital, legging it to nursery before the cut-off time, constantly apologising for being late or having to stay at home with a poorly child and then trying to get my design business off the ground each evening. I desperately wanted to make it all work and expected myself to be able to manage it all. But I mean, come on. Who was I kidding?! Even with the best will in the world, it wasn't sustainable for anyone.
I'd managed to land myself a few paying interior design clients by this point and was realising the complexity of trying to fit that work in around the restrictions of a day job. Harry and I had a number of conversations about the next steps. We were in a fairly good position financially, and we decided that if there was ever a time to go all in, it was now.
I wrote my resignation letter whilst trying not to vomit. The day I handed it in, will stay with me for life. I stumbled into my manager's office, with my physio T-shirt on inside out and tried to hold myself together as I passed over the envelope. Palms sweating, heart racing, 'Was it the right decision?' 'What if it all went to pot and I'd ruined my career?' 'What would people think?' 'What if I don't make any money?" A million, panicked thoughts ran through my head. I couldn't believe I had done it. Stepping away from a guaranteed income and secure job with a young family and a mortgage. It felt entirely reckless.
Sometimes, I don't think you really know the amount of grit and determination inside of you until you have no choice. There was no going back now, no other option and no safety net. It was sink or swim.
I worked my absolute ass off over the next couple of years. Learning as I went, figuring my shit out and gradually gaining more and more knowledge and skills. I got stuff wrong. Like, a lot. I had a lot of learning to do, I made many mistakes. But I also got stuff right. My confidence grew, I was charging more, I was in demand, and I was loving it. I genuinely didn't realise how much I would love it. Not the interior design aspect, of course, I always knew I would love that. But the business side. It was a challenge that I threw myself into, to learn as much as I could about starting, growing and building businesses. I would perhaps go as far as to say it's an obsession.
Which is kinda why I wanted to start this blog. I want to share my experiences, I want to inspire you to go after your dreams, to start that business, to sign up for that course, to push yourself outside of your comfort zone and be amazed at what you can achieve. What I have been capable of blows my mind every single day. I want your mind to be blown too.