Ian is the kind office guru here at Curiouser. He makes sure everybody gets paid on time and helps to keep all the paperwork up to date. As he is now partly retired, he can enjoy more stout, more golf, more walks with Smudge (the dog) and more free time than ever before. He is full of good chat and has background in theatre, counselling, NHS Education and all the things that make people consider the Greater Good. He is also the only business partner who doesn't run at a sight of a camera. Let's get to know him a bit better.
1. How did you find yourself working for Curiouser and Curiouser?
Me working for Curiouser just grew from helping Laura when she first started the business back in 2010 and got the lease on our first shop in Broughton Street . At that time I was working full time with NHS Education for Scotland running a programme to train GPs to appraise other GPs. In 2013 I had a health event which made me think about the longer term, also Curiouser was getting busier, so I started working part-time with the NHS and part-time with Curiouser. In 2015 we decided to open a second shop at Bruntsfield and this meant I was able to leave the NHS and work full time with Curiouser. I've never looked back!
2. What does it mean to you to be working with family? What are the pros and cons?
This is not really something we planned, it just evolved over time. I guess the great plus of working with family is we are really there for each other. We will always go the extra mile to get the job done and help each other out. The only negative is you can't go home and moan about your work mates : )
3. How do you recharge your batteries?
I'm very lucky that I work part-time these days and we have recently moved full time to East Lothian. We now have a garden so I'm hoping to get into gardening... I enjoy walking our dog Smudge and playing the occasional round of golf. Last year we really got into sea swimming and this is really exhilarating and stress busting and cold.
4. Where do you think retail is heading? Do you think it will survive?
I think physical retail will survive but is evolving. There are sensory and social aspects to shopping that don't exist online. I think businesses which offer an experience which goes beyond just going into a shop and getting a thing you immediately need but stimulate people and offer something new and beautiful will always have a place. I think the way the people who work in shops engage with customers is tremendously important now. Hopefully, customers feel welcomed and engaged with, in a way that means they come out of the shop, regardless of whether they have bought anything, feeling better about their day and life in general.
5. Does your broad work experience feed into how you influence Curiouser?
I think the fact I've done a lot of different things and worked in a lot of different work environments means I can sometimes offer a broader perspective and offer an idea or solution that I've come across elsewhere. Also I've been around a while now! So I've seen a few business cycles, highs and lows, and this also helps me offer a more long term perspective.
6. Why is supporting charities important to you?
It ties in with what I said earlier about the future of retail, retail businesses are part of communities. We want to help support the communities we are part of and to give something back to the people who support us. In general we have tended to support charities that are local to our shops and connect to our personal experiences. This also mirrors many of our customers' concerns.
7. What do you find most stressful about running a small business?
Always being aware of all the things you could be doing to support the business and having to choose what to focus on. You could work 24/7 and still not have done everything you could do. So being able to say this enough is very important to staying well!
8. A piece of advice for anyone dreaming of working professionally with their loved ones?
Don't forget to have some fun along the way!
9. What animal would you choose to be if you had such choice? Why?
Today I am mostly feeling I would like to be a blue whale swimming in the pacific and feeling I have the whole ocean open to me....
Than you for this lovely conversation Ian.
Ian & Laura holding a backdrop during our lampshade photoshoot in 2022
Ian modelling a chunky knitted hat for our website.