I quit my job at Burberry to start selling tools – now I make £3million a year

Quitting your day job to start a business is something most people can only ever dream of doing, but one mum has revealed how and why she took the plunge – and she's not looked back since.

Charlotte Valentine worked as a Merchandise Planner for Burberry when she decided she wanted to be her own boss.

But without a plan, she said she put off taking the leap, until one day, when she realised she'd had enough of the nine to five and wanted to spend more time with her daughters.

However, she wasn't inspired to go into the building trade until a conversation with her father and uncle – both of whom work in the sector.

"I became excited by the challenge – working in such an industry would be a world away from fashion," Charlotte, who lives and works in St Albans with her husband and two daughters, told Mirror Money.

In 2011, Charlotte quit Burberry to start her online eBay business, Healy’s Tools. Since 2016, her turn over has tripled year on year.

Her business specialises in power tools for sole traders and businesses – and she now has a team of four.

"Before Healy's Tools, I worked for Burberry as a Merchandise Planner.

"I used to forecast sales and work alongside buyers planning what products to buy, in what quantities and at what price to sell them.

"It was a completely different market, working environment and customer base to that of power tools.

"But I had always wanted to run my own business and had been thinking about possible ideas.


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"After a discussion with my father, who runs a builder's merchant, we decided to start an online tool shop. The two businesses would work separately – but also with a shared customer base."

Charlotte took the plunge by combining her savings with a loan from her father to start the business up with £30,000.

    "Before running Healy's, I am embarrassed to say I knew very little about power tools.

    "I must have been mad going into an industry I knew nothing about, but I loved the idea of a challenge. My thought was that, if I can get this off the ground, I have really achieved something.

    "I was young, enthusiastic and eager to learn about a whole new industry that was worlds away from that of high fashion.

    "Healy’s was originally a local business that went bust, I bought the name as I thought it would give me a helping hand getting started in the local area.


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    "One reason for wanting to set up my own company was so that I could work flexible hours and benefit directly from the hours I put in.

    "The hope was that when I did eventually start a family, I could continue to work around caring for my children.

    "The reality is that this has been the biggest challenge, that of juggling a business and having a family.

    "It is fortunate that I have such a hardworking and trustworthy team, we work very well together and as a result the business has continued to grow and thrive."

    Charlotte's advice to anyone looking to start a business is to not be afraid.

    "Don't be afraid to expand even before you think you and the company are ready. You need a good team who you can trust in order to grow."

    The company – which makes £3million a year – is now on track to hit £10million.

        "We plan to continue growing.  Our aim is to reach £10million turnover within the next four years," Charlotte said.

        "We also plan to diversify and expand into different areas, not just power tools. We are also considering developing our own products."

        "Don’t be afraid of failure. You have to take risks in order to reach your goals. It can be very challenging and there will be good days and bad days but if you have the drive and determination, you will succeed.

        "People often assume I am the receptionist when answering the phone or when customers come into our shop.

        "New customers sometimes do not take me seriously or are shocked to find out it is my company and are usually impressed by my knowledge of power tools as it is considered very much a male industry.

        "Once customers realise that I know what I'm talking about and that I strive to offer the very best customer service, I am taken much more seriously.

        "Being such a male dominated industry makes me memorable plus I have an excellent team, we work alongside each other to give customers the very best service possible as well as competitive prices."  

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