An entrepreneurship journey: starting a new business in the countryside

In the third of a series of catch ups with previous clients, we get the lowdown on how their new life in the country is going and, now that they are settled, what words of wisdom they can pass on to others who are about to embark on a similar journey.

This time, we chat to Emma who moved to Hampshire from London, with her husband and two boys in 2015. She’s recently set up her own floristry business and is a great example of someone who has made the most of the lifestyle change to carve out a career in something she loves….

How are you enjoying your life in Hampshire and why did you choose that area?

I really love it, we’ve made some terrific friends, our boys are really happy too. We’ve been in the same house for eight years now and can’t imagine living anywhere else. We chose the area based on the train line to London. We literally put a pin in a map to work out where we could get to within an hour from London. Prior to buying this house we rented in a neighbouring village to make sure we liked the area and try out the commute to London before committing to it.

What did you find the most challenging when you first moved out?

I think the biggest shock was how few people you see wondering about. I was used to pushing a buggy round Wandsworth common all day and bumping into people all the time. There didn’t seem an obvious place to go and get a coffee or meet up with friends. Of course in time you realise that everyone gets in the car to do these things. But for me I barely drove for 17 years and then suddenly everything required getting in the car, so I suppose that was a challenge at first. We also quickly realised we needed two cars so one could be left at the station.

Also you have to be so organised if you’re going out it’s not a matter of getting an Uber. You need to book taxis and there are very few of them around here. It was a much bigger adjustment for my husband as he went from walking to the tube then having a short 20 minute commute to work to having to get up and out before 6am and two hours later being at his desk. Inevitably that then changes the family dynamic as you really are home alone with the children and all the responsibilities of running a house.

What advice do you have for those looking to make the same move as you did?

It is a big change, much bigger than you think. We’ve been incredibly lucky and have a fabulous group of local friends that we’ve met down here but I think you could feel very isolated so really think about how rural you want to be or if it’s important to see a bit of life around you.

You need a lot more kit when you move out to the country, there is always something muddy or wet, don’t underestimate the importance of a boot room, you will need it!

I didn’t know this area at all, I’d never been to Surrey or Hampshire so the orientation tour with Jen and Maranda was invaluable. I don’t think I could have moved down here without them showing me how it all worked. It’s an overwhelming decision to make uprooting a family, I’m glad we did it when the children were so young as we didn’t need to worry about schools yet. I would recommend spending as much time as possible exploring the area and talking to friends who have done the move out of London. Make sure you both want to move.

Also, don’t be too fixated on what you think you need at the time for the children at the stage they are currently at. The first time we viewed the house we ended up buying, we dismissed because I couldn’t imagine where the highchair or play pen would go. In my head I was trying to work out, is there enough room for the double pram? Where’s the cot going to go? In reality by the time we actually moved in twelve months later, we were past that phase already, and we could see how the rooms worked for a family of four.

We have an outbuilding which we never even knew we needed until lockdown. My husband now uses the upstairs as an office space and downstairs we’ve got a boot room and studio for my flower business. So knowing that you have the ability to transform something with potential is really nice and it can grow to meet your needs at various life stages. As the boys become older, larger and louder we will utilise this space differently again, it’s important to see how your space can evolve.

When we met your children they were babies, so how did you get on with finding schools as they got older?

Well that is where you ladies really came into your own! Schools weren’t even on my radar at the time but I looked back at the notes you made about the various villages and I found those reports so helpful. The boys were only babies when we worked with you but you had done a section on the local schooling options, so I was able to read up on the various schools that you had detailed. You created an amazing map with hyperlinks to all the schools and nurseries.

I also remember you telling us information like where the nearest A & E’s were.   I didn’t realise how  important those details were but, inevitably with two boys, we have been many times since! Your local knowledge and kindness were invaluable, and I had no idea about Surrey or Hampshire, so your drive arounds were a godsend.


What is the story behind you setting up your business?

I always wanted to be a florist. In London I had very corporate jobs that I felt weren’t very me. I’ve always been creative and after ten years in London I was offered a job as a trainee florist at Daylesford in the Cotswolds, at the same time I fell in love with my future husband so decided to stay in London. That creative urge has always remained. I’ve loved doing up our house and have a keen eye for interiors and antiques but the dream of becoming a florist never left.

When the children were a bit older, I realised I did have more available time to finally train as a florist and set up my own business. I set up an Instagram account to showcase what I was doing (@emslittleflowercompany) and feel very fortunate that it has grown organically. I’ve met some fantastic people and it’s opened some interesting doors as well as being hugely creative and enjoyable. I’ve got my first wedding in May, which is very exciting.

What do you love most about living in Hampshire and do you have any regrets? 

I don’t have any regrets. I love the fact that London is still accessible and we can all get our city fix when we need it. I love that it’s where we’ve chosen to live together and put down our own roots as a family. We’ve been incredibly lucky that we are all happy living here.

What are your favourite places to eat out in the area?

Pulpo Negro, New Alresford

We love Alresford.  Pulpo Negro is our date night place and The Three Horseshoes in Bighton is also fantastic.

We are lucky to have a great pub in the village too.

It’s been a huge adventure and we can’t wait to see what happens next.