Stories of Small Business New Zealand

The Story of Sharon & Home By The Sea

The Story of Sharon & Home By The Sea

Let’s start with who you are? Tell us a bit about yourself.

If anyone had said one day you will own your own home and start a business I wouldn’t have believed them. I would have said bye bye and shut the door on them! One of my first memories as a child is being homeless and living in a car with my mother. My mother suffered from mental illness and at times she struggled to provide us with a stable home. Like many children growing up in poverty in NZ staying at school is not an option and as soon as I could I left school and got a job at our local supermarket. With me working we could get our power switched back on and have 3 meals a day again. Leaving school was hard for me, I loved learning and school was also an escape from home which was not always a nice place to be. For years I felt shame about leaving school so early and despite my love of learning and reading I always felt my lack of education was obvious to others and my confidence was greatly affected. 

Fast forward to now and I have a beautiful family, our dream home and now I have created Home By The Sea.  Some days I feel like an impostor in my own life but it was my determination to have a stable and secure home that has driven me to where I am today. For years I doubted my ability to do anything as complicated as setting up a business. It wasn’t until I turned 40 that I finally took the leap and did it. I now know if you have courage, determination and good people believing in you, you’re capable of more than you could ever imagine.

And what is Home By The Sea? Tell us more.

Home By The Sea is a result of my love of homes and what we choose to fill them with. I believe a home is a reflection of ourselves and it’s important to think about where our home furnishings come from and how they are made. I think we all know about fast fashion but few people think about fast homewares and how we go out and buy the latest trends cheaply from large department stores and never think about how sustainable these low cost items are. Are they made to last? Is fast mass production beneficial to the environment? Will the person making this be paid enough to feed their family? Home By the Sea is a curated collection of homeware and gifts that are sourced from small NZ makers and designers. I also source things globally from traders who share my values for quality handmade products.

What encouraged you to start your business?

My friends and family! I’m a very visual person and my surroundings have always been important to me. When it came to our homes I would source items from unexpected places. I always wanted our home to feel unique and a little bit ahead of what is currently in fashion.  With so many people asking me where they could buy something that I had in my home or to help them find items in the style they love, it became pretty obvious to me what I was meant to do. So now I get to do what I love the way I want to do it. The best thing is it never feels like work.

What did you do before creating your business? Tell us your journey from here to there.

A big portion of my life has been taken up with raising kids and home renovations. Most of my working life has been in retail combined with volunteering for various charities. I had no marketing or business experience but I had picked up a few things during my life that has come in handy lately. I took up photography a few years ago. I also had a WordPress blog for years that documented our home renovations. I’ve always been interested with technology and social media. I do my own photography for my website and my Instagram content.  My tech skills really helped me when creating my website. I then decided I needed to get a job working in a homeware store. I learned so much about what to do and what not to do. I then took a crash course on business so I would at least have a foundation I could build on. I know people spend years developing a business idea but for me when I finally decided what I wanted to do I was in a big hurry to just start!

Knowing what you know now. What would be one piece of advice would you give your 21 year old self?

Be kinder to yourself and to take care of your health. Mentally and physically.

What are some of the highs and lows of running your business?

I’ve discovered that I love the marketing side of things, I think it’s because it’s about creativity and connecting with people. I also love that I get to make my own decisions, that I’m building and growing something from nothing. The lows have been having starting a business and trying to get certainty and stability in a worldwide Pandemic.

What the biggest lesson you have learnt in your small business?

To say yes a lot! To jump and leap at offers for help. There are so many people out there wanting to see small business turn into big business in NZ. Also no business is an Island! Building relationships with other businesses is not just enjoyable it leads to even more opportunities.

What’s one piece of advice you would share with someone starting out?

You’ve started so the hardest part is over. The second hardest part is to stick it out. Overnight success is rare and usually a lot of blood, sweat and tears is needed before you get there.

What do you love most about your business?

That it’s built on a foundation of good intentions and it’s for people who want their homes to be somewhere that feels unique and special.

Homes By The Sea

Share 5 things that bring you joy?

Family, Friends, My dog Poppy, our home and my business

What do you do for some time out or when you need a break from your biz? What resets that light inside you?

Exercise! I have battled with my weight my whole life and in my 30s I reached 133kgs and I’m only just over 160cms tall! I made up my mind to do something about it and purchased my first pair of running shoes. I started walking every morning and then moved on to running for the first time in my life. I changed what I ate and reduced the amount I ate. I managed to lose half my body weight. My weight will always be something I will struggle with and even right now I’m on an upward cycle but what I have found is a love for exercise and healthy eating not just because of how it affects the way I look but how it makes me feel physically and mentally.

Coffee or Tea?

Tea! I have always hated Coffee. Sorry coffee lovers.

How do you balance business life + motherhood?

Upside of having kids young is that I now have the time and energy to focus on what I want to do now. I’m not sure if I was that great at balancing everything when my kids were young but I was always there for them and that there was nothing I was doing that couldn’t wait for them.

What one quote are you always drawn to?

Be kind

What can we expect from your biz in the future?

My Pop Up Shop in Long Bay Village! It’s something that has happened almost overnight. I had thought that I would have 2 months to prepare for it but it’s ended up being less than two weeks! Somehow I created a beachy, boho elegant vibe in a large space with nothing more than gib plaster board and unfinished concrete floors.  It’s one of those opportunities I said yes to despite not being ready for it.  I know life is too short to wait and if I don’t take the leap I could miss out on something really really exciting.


Follow Sharon's journey via here website or instagram




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