top of page



Have a dream of forging your own career path but unsure of where to start? F Word picked the brains of four exciting creatives and entrepreneurs running their own businesses to find out how they did it, along with the advice they'd give to others who want to do the same.


Jade Obeng, Grove and Vae

I started Grove and Vae because I want to be able to give people the feeling of having good quality jewellery at an affordable price. My skin is sensitive to cheap metals and I always found that affordable jewellery was really bad quality so there was no happy medium for me. Having grown up in Ladbroke Grove surrounded by vintage jewellery stores, I knew I wanted to start my own brand. Speaking candidly, I don’t see anyone that looks like me in that industry and I want to take up space.

You have to eat, breathe and sleep your business. You see people saying ‘I started this business and in a year we turned over one million in the first year’ but that wasn’t my reality. Do not compare yourself to anyone - your journey is going to be completely different. It’s so easy to look at someone on social media and see what they’re achieving but don’t compare your journey, remember why you started and continue with that. And research. Do not cut corners - the quality of your product is the only spokesperson you need. The fact that we have returning customers shows me that our quality is great. If you don’t focus on the quality of your product you’re not going to succeed.


Ugly Duck is a dynamic arts collective based in London. It was launched by two women who were scouting locations in London for an immersive theatre show. They took a chance and knocked on the door of an empty building, meeting the owner who not only allowed them to stage their show but also invited them to stay. Although the building was later sold, the new owners embraced our presence, allowing us to continue our creative endeavours.

I was hired in 2016 to oversee the artistic direction of Ugly Duck, with a goal of developing our name and brand more intentionally. My programming has always focused on the intersection of new media and contemporary art, always emphasising identity politics and LGBTQIA representations. Spaces like Ugly Duck are rare—a large, beautifully unique venue where artists and collectives could truly take over and realise their visions with a lot of freedom and permissiveness. Ugly Duck perfectly straddles the line between a squat and an institution, embodying a DIY ethos that is intrinsically queer. What excites me most is the variety—no days are the same really. I constantly meet interesting artists, curators or producers, and I also get to see professionals from the film and fashion industries at work. I love to witness how the space is transformed and utilised in different ways each time.

My advice to others would be to be bold but be true to yourselves. Do things with care, define your project and your missions from the get go, don’t hesitate to ask for support and if in the art industry, be creative and ethical in how you source your funding!


Joshua Ralphs & Jack O'Connor, Big Night

The opportunity to open Big Night presented itself to us. We were actually looking at taking over a different venue but it fell through. When we saw this space, we were instantly drawn to it. It’s exactly what we wanted - a space that breaks down the separation between the kitchen and front of house, and we love the fact that in order to go to the bathroom you have to pass the kitchen. 

Initially, we had other people who said they were interested in being a part of it but we found that they would flake once it became real - when you start your own business you really find out who’s serious. You need to find people who are 100% in and dedicated. We don’t come from typical business backgrounds. We’d worked in kitchens but learning the business side is more of a necessity that we learned as we went along, which also goes with the DIY approach to the space itself! If you want to start your own business you have to be completely honest with yourself about what you’re entering into. You can’t lie to yourself. You also have to be able to compromise as you’re going to have to. Have realistic priorities and have integrity. If you’re doing something to try to follow a trend or make money and you don’t really believe in it then people can see through that.


Emilie Louizides & Justin Tailor (pka Hoost), Quarter Cup

The idea of starting a tea company together came up organically. We already share quite a few clients between our other businesses (music production and makeup artistry) and we've spoken for years about going into business together in some way; tea just happened to be what we decided to pursue! Justin has always had tea on hand for his music clients to keep their voices healthy and I (Emilie) heavily leaned into herbalism for improving hormone health. From there, we started to learn to forage, our tea cabinet filled up more and more, and we began to create our own blends. Our teas taste good and are good for you, and we make everything ourselves, from the fruit we dehydrate, to the herbs we forage, and the packaging we design. 

The advice we'd give others? Start where you are, use what you have, and do what you can. Using what we have expands our creativity; we could be spending money on certain herbs that we're actually able to go out and forage, or we could be ordering custom signage and labels but instead we're making them all ourselves. Allow yourself to evolve as you go - we're only three months into our venture and we've already changed the names of our tea blends, we just introduced a new logo, and the packaging has gone through a few different iterations. Everything we've made so far, in every shape and form, has always been available to buy, we never waited for any one element to be 'perfect', it's always been more important to us to make the tea to the best of our ability, get it out there, see what people think of it, and improve from there.   


bottom of page