After almost 18 years as co-owner of one of Scotland’s leading digital agencies, tictoc Digital, Melanie Russell is already seeing green shoots in her new venture in the construction industry.
The entrepreneur from Jordanhill, Glasgow, used her experience building a successful company in the digital sector to launch a new business, building bespoke garden rooms.
With turnover nearing £300,000 in the first full year of trading, the entrepreneur has ambitious growth plans and is now set to invest in a new warehouse which will turbocharge the company’s trajectory.
Currently, the garden rooms are constructed on-site in their clients’ gardens. But the new facility will mean assembly can take place free from the constraints of Scotland’s weather and be transported as a finished unit.
She said: “Starting a business can be a minefield however past experience has provided me with extensive knowledge of all aspects from finance, business development, compliance and HR. In addition to which, I have a great deal of marketing experience which has been invaluable.
“As crucial as it is to be able to manage a business, I’m also incredibly keen to get my hands dirty. When our apprentice is at college, I step in to help construct the panels for the rooms. I think it’s vital I have a deep understanding of every single aspect of the business and our product.
“Our rooms are highly insulated therefore usable throughout the year, not just the warmer months. It’s a cost-effective way to extend your home and can add value, too.”
The entrepreneur spotted an opportunity for homeowners to gain useable space for work or leisure as, on the whole, the rooms don’t require planning permission and take just two-to-three weeks to build.
The rooms are extremely versatile and are used year-round for a range of purposes, from home offices to additional guest space to writing retreats, and artisan studios.
Melanie’s own garden room, the first built by the company, now houses her daughter’s drum kit, which means the rest of the family can enjoy peace and quiet in the evenings once again. Increased awareness of the importance of self-care has led to many of the company’s clients to commission some extra space outside the home to use as a peaceful sanctuary or as a tranquil area for yoga or meditation.
The sheer variety of purposes for additional rooms has definitely been a factor in the early success of the fledgling business.
Demand for the product is set to grow. According to Pinterest’s 2020 cultural shift report, which analysed searches on the platform by millions of people around the world, the term ‘garden room’ has increased in popularity by 104 per cent over the last year.
The number of self-employed workers in the UK reached a record high of 4.93 million in early 2019, so more people than ever before are looking for ways to make working from home work for them. Rather than move to a bigger house or travel to another premises, clients are finding it far easier to create onsite solutions.
In her short time in the industry, Mel has already won a number of industry awards, and was finalist for Start-up business of the Year at both the Business Women Scotland and Federation of Small Business Awards last year.
All of Outside In’s garden rooms are built to order at the company’s workshop in Anniesland, Glasgow, using high-quality, durable materials from Scottish suppliers.
To find out more about Outside In, visit www.outsideingardenrooms.co.uk .