Jo Harrison, the founder of Reloved by Jo, is someone who packs a great deal in to her life! This was evident when we spoke to her recently about her inspirations and how she juggles the many demands and responsibilities placed upon her. Jo clearly adores the creative and artistic side to her business and she has a discerning eye for finding beautiful furniture with good bones. Her time spent as custodian of her pieces is thoughtful as she restores and transforms them back to life before passing them on to the next keeper.
What did you do before founding Reloved by Jo?
I was (and still am) running a unique online gift business called Premurosa.com selling bespoke gift and card packages which are delivered through the letterbox. Set up by myself in 2013, the idea for Premurosa came about when I received an unexpected gift through the letterbox – in not-so-nice packaging. The fact that someone had been thinking of me and had taken the time and trouble to send something personal was a lovely experience and made my day. I couldn’t help thinking that if the gift had been beautifully presented with a quality card and message there could be a market for it? That was the beginning of Premurosa.
I’ve also been caddying for my golf pro husband on the PGA European Seniors Tour for the past 6 years. We’ve travelled all over the world from Europe to Perth to Japan. Mauritius and Switzerland were probably my two favourite tournaments. Although a great experience, it’s not as glamorous as it sounds – sometimes the weather’s wet and cold (which makes the bag seem heavier), the score might not be going in your favour and all you want to do is finish and climb into a hot bath! It’s been a great few years though and we’ve made new friends from all over the world.
What inspired you to set the business up?
Because I was covering every aspect of Premurosa, from sourcing new gifts to taking photos, updating the website, marketing, sending out gifts, working on SEO and much, much more, I got to the point where I just needed to do something else, something I enjoyed that would take me away from the office.
So, one morning I decided to do something that I knew I’d enjoy… I found a couple of tables in the garage and decided to paint them. They turned out really well so I sold them, went to the auctions with my profit, bid and won 5 lots which I upcycled and sold. That was it, I was hooked!
What made you choose this name for the business?
I wanted to choose a name that was simple and didn’t sound too corporate. Reloved by Jo fits the bill!
Which designers or periods are you particularly interested in and inspired by?
My absolute favourite furniture has to be French, no particular period. I love the elegance and style of French furniture particularly French country rustic pieces. I think it exudes a warm, comfortable feeling and it never dates! Tall French windows and doors are also so stunning.
From which countries do you source the vintage pieces that you sell?
At present, I’ve only sourced from the UK but as you can imagine, I’m looking forward to my imminent shopping trip to France, visiting markets and antique shops whilst sampling the food and vino along the way. In fact, wherever I travel now, I’m drawn to old and preloved furniture.
What do you do when you are not working?
Sleep! That is almost true. I have so much I want to do to grow my business that I’m working 15 hour days, most days. Seriously though, when I’m home (and not caddying) life is quite simple. I now make a bit of time to keep fit and have recently started swimming again some mornings (which does my body and mind good).
I enjoy good food and wine and a little TV and a good book. Any spare time is spent with my gorgeous grandson, Freddie – he always puts a smile on my face.
I used to love a day out at the shops, buying gorgeous girlie stuff, now I get excited about buying an orbital sander! How times change. There are so many things I would do if I had more time… dance lessons, zumba, rowing, painting with acrylics…
What was the first piece that you ever sold?
Two side tables that I found in the garage that I mentioned earlier. They were in a really good condition, however the dark wood dated them somewhat. Because they were a little different, I thought they needed a quirky colour so chose Autentico antique turquoise which worked really well.
Who is your typical customer?
It’s a mix. Firstly there’s the professional working women, let’s say 40 plus who appreciates older furniture and wants her home to be stylish and current but doesn’t have the time (and maybe the creativity) to do the work themselves. Then there’s the slightly more mature woman with a home full of good quality, dark furniture who wants to make her home special. One piece of work usually leads on to another… they are great clients and they appreciate the work I put in to each piece.
Is your own home an extension of your business style?
Yes, in parts, my house is modern so I’m quite restricted as to what I can do. My dream house would be an old Edwardian or Georgian house or Victorian villa with beautiful windows, doors and fireplaces. When I moved into this house eight years ago I painted quite a bit of our old furniture and it still looks good although a few pieces are showing signs of needing a little attention now. There are so many new paints available now and nicer colours that I’m keen to repaint them anyway.
What are the most difficult and the rewarding things about running your own business?
The prep isn’t difficult although it can be hard work. Getting an online presence is the most difficult task for me. It’s also time that I’d rather spend doing something else.
The most rewarding part of my business, without a doubt, is seeing how pleased my clients are when I return their furniture and finishing a new creation that I know will give someone else so much pleasure.
Do you have any plans coming up that we should mention?
I am looking for a buyer for Premurosa.com so I can concentrate solely on Reloved by Jo. I have only recently launched my website (I built it myself!) which will include more furniture and also home décor. Amongst other pieces, I am working on another vanity unit at present which I absolutely adore, more rustic than the last it is a beauty! I intend to add some smaller home décor items too. My life has changed so much in 12 months, who knows where the next year will take me?