As part of my journalism course, I’ve been interviewing and writing features about local people. This is the first in a series highlighting amazing people!
Late nights, early mornings, and school runs. Hope Marshall, 30, is an entrepreneur, a wife, and a mum of two. From the outside, it looks like she has it all, and she does! But it has taken years of hard work building business after business from the ground up. Now that hard work has paid off, and it is taking them to the coastal paradise of Devon.
I am speaking to Hope in one of her most recent ventures, the Support Local Pop-Up shop in Tunbridge Wells. She is sitting behind the till watching her browsing customers like a proud lioness watches her cubs.
“It’s been crazy. I definitely didn’t set out to do this.” she laughs, “I mean, I completely changed direction of all three of my businesses!”
It is true that Covid has closed businesses for months on end. With uncertainty still in the air, I asked, what was her key to success?
“Don’t be too rigid with your plans. Things change, adapt to it.”
Support Local Pop-Up started off as weekend markets all over Kent, providing a place for local small businesses to showcase their work. When Covid hit, markets were off the table and Hope had to pivot the business to stay a-float.
“Opening a shop, that was terrifying! But I would say, I didn’t just open a shop. I didn’t go right, here you go, four grand! I did it very slowly, and in a way that felt right for me. So, one day, I signed the lease. The next day, I paid the rent. The next day, I bought the equipment, and so on.”
The shop, which operates a rent-a-shelf system to local businesses providing them a spot on the high street, will be closing in June, leaving Hope to focus on her newest project, Marshall Creative, a marketing firm.
“I’ve always really liked marketing,” she says, “But didn’t really feel like I learned enough in my marketing degree to be able to go out into the world and actually offer it.”
She looks around the store again to make sure her customers are happy, then comes back to my question.
“As I started doing it more and more for my businesses and did a bit of formal training as well, I realised how much I already knew.”
Now an expert in her field, Hope spends most of her spare time studying to stay on top of the game; “minimum 10 hours a week, every week I spend studying learning, reading, developing my skills” she says.
It was clear throughout the conversation that Hope is passionate about marketing, you can see her eyes light up when she speaks of the details.
“I really love all the techie bits of SEO,” she says, “that bit that’s to do with making your website crawlable. I just find it really interesting!”
Working so much and studying by night can be tough when you have kids, but they are the whole reason Hope started this incredible journey.
“I love every single second of being a mom, but I didn’t want to lose my individuality. So that was a big driver for me. I wanted something that I could do around my son, on my own terms.”
Now the family have a move to Devon on the cards for a slower, more relaxed life. Hope and her husband Darren are both working on the Support Local businesses, and Hope is exploring her passion of marketing. I asked her what advice she can give to others hoping to achieve a similar level of success.
“Don’t give up! It’s so cliche, but it’s so easy. I mean, the amount of times I have just wanted to go, ‘I’m not doing this!’ Just, don’t give up. Remember why you started this.”