Meet the Team; Introducing Oli
To celebrate Life Kitchens first birthday, we're introducing you to our Director and Founder, Oli Stephenson.
Having started work within the kitchen industry at the age of 14, Oli has put his hand to everything, from packing boxes and sweeping floors, to screwing handles onto handle boards and installing work surfaces.
So last year, over a decade later, it didn't come as a surprise that he wanted to forge his own way in this fifth generational family business and launch his own unique venture, taking advantage of a niche in the market, a huge passion for the industry and most importantly, a wealth of experience that's been gained along the way.
Firstly, congratulations on Life's first birthday!
Secondly, Life Kitchens has come a long way in such a short space of time, but we're eager to know what made you first decide you wanted to ‘go it alone’ and set up your own kitchen showroom?
"Thank you! After working in the family business on and off since I was 14, I've been waiting for the right time to naturally progress my passion within the industry and put my own stamp on it, as such. After relocating to London and studying the market there for some time, I identified a very real opportunity to offer something unique, that would truly set retail apart."
Was there a specific influence behind the name, Life Kitchens?
"The kitchen is widely regarded as one of, if not the most important room in the house. A place to enjoy great food, share stories and most importantly create lasting memories, it truly is the heart of the home, a place to enjoy Life!
So, after identifying our values and the experiences we wanted to create for our customers, it seemed like the most natural approach when we first began this journey to name our brand after something we truly believed in, creating kitchens to be lived in; Life Kitchens was born!"
One year on, Life Kitchens has developed into an award-winning showroom and a nationally recognised brand.
What do you love most about it?“We’re not scared to explore different methods that could potentially change (for the better) the way customers buy kitchens!
We’ve worked hard to create a fresh approach which transpires into every aspect of our brand; from the name, the look, the feel, the opportunities and most importantly, the way we conduct our business. We wanted to be different, but not complicated, push the boundaries in trends, architecture and design, whilst still staying relevant to our customers and creating the kitchens they truly deserve.”
Earlier this month, you were awarded ‘Best Kitchen Showroom’ in the 2019 BKU awards –which is an incredible achievement. Out of all the ‘looks’ you have on offer in there, do you have a favourite?
“No, I know it’s cliché to say, but I like them all equally as much. Each look has been individually designed by our fantastic team to offer something different for everyone. Whether you want to create a modern contemporary kitchen or a timeless traditional aesthetic, we can explore each and every option within our state-of-the-art showroom."
What’s been your biggest highlight over the last year?
“Developing and launching a beautiful showroom, as well as a fully operational business within the space of 18 months is certainly one of my biggest achievements. However, we’ve just won the accolade for ‘Best Kitchen Showroom’ at this year’s BKU awards, so that is certainly up there too!’
Have you come across any difficulties along the way?
“I think we wouldn’t be where we are today if there weren’t a few hurdles to cross, it all makes for those extra experiences to learn from and develop. The inevitable multi-tasking that comes with a business start-up is one that naturally took a little adjusting, you never really do switch off, but I’m so proud of the team we’ve built and the goals we have set out to achieve have been successfully ticked off already!"
What would be your biggest piece of advice to future entrepreneurs?
“Momentum is key. When you launch a small business, you find yourself becoming not just a founder and decision maker, but a cleaner, box packer, HR advisor and brew maker, all in one! But, you have to go through all these stages with the same passion and momentum as when you had that initial idea, and it will make you a better company in the process. The real challenge is building on from that point and growing the business even further, whilst still retaining the same outlook and values; most importantly of all, the same belief and courage as you did at the start.”
What does year two look like for Life Kitchens?
“As well as the day to day of attracting new customers into our Waterloo showroom, we’re always on the look out for incredible interior designers and architects to work with, so hopefully this year we’ll be able to increase our portfolio of these and forge lasting relationships within the industry! So, if you fall into this category, get in touch; we’d love to see how we can help you and your clients.”
Would you like a member of the design team to plan your next kitchen?
Book a free design consultation here, or call 0203 972 0150.