Inspirational Women-Hannah Coleman

Hannah Coleman has an unusual job – she sells walls! Not just any old walls but walls to help you make your dream home! Read on to find out how Hannah ended up as the inspiration behind Dreamwalls

Jane:  Hannah, you have quite an unusual role now, involving walls! Can you tell us a bit more about your current role and how you ended up in it?
Hannah: I agree it is an unusual role, and not one that I went out to seek, the role found me!

At the time I was heavily pregnant with my daughter and lived in a new build town house in Barry, South Wales. Previously I had lived in Manchester, and adored the old mills and loft conversion properties; I had a vision to create that look in to the new build town house in Barry, but couldn’t build an old rustic brick wall on the 2nd floor of the property due to the extra weight load on the property.

I tried sourcing on the internet for an imitation rustic brick cladding that I could use, but I couldn’t find one suitable. Not long after my daughter was born I was out walking with her in the pram, and found a few old rustic bricks in an old skip, I took them back home and had a go at making a moulding from them. To a cut a long story short, my daughter’s father and I between us hand casted a rustic brick wall cladding system for our home in our garage; only when it was fully completed on the wall did the light-bulb moment hit me. I realized that a business idea had been formed and that is exactly how Dreamwall started.

I got professional advice with Business in Focus in South Wales on how to start a business, and obviously needed advice on manufacturing, finance and grants (no capital).

I officially began trading as Dreamwall in March 2003 as a mail order company from home, which was perfect as I was also a full time stay at home new mum.

What was the very first job you had and did you learn any skills from it you still use?
As a teenager I always had various weekend jobs, my first was actually being a Saturday girl at a riding school, the job entailed mucking out the stables, cleaning tack, grooming feeding the horses, and involved a lot of responsibility and discipline.

I also worked in a Fish restaurant, on a Friday and Saturday night, I learnt a lot on how to deal with customers, taking orders, taking time to talk and engage with people. I always had the best tips at the end of an evening, I learnt that the customer is always right, (sometimes ;-)) – and communication was key.

In the summer holidays I worked in a clothing Boutique that was owned by Delia Dolan who was a Miss United Kingdom, with her winning money she set up the up market boutique HOBO. Clients always looked like they lived a dream lifestyle and I loved the glamour of the boutique, I really became interested in clothes, and admired Delia’s work ethics; I wanted a piece of that glamour.

Having various jobs while at school and college installed in me the principle always to be self sufficient and never to rely on others. For me there is nothing more rewarding than earning your own money, it taught me to be a grafter, and not to be afraid to take on challenges, responsibility. I always say I am a jack of all trades but not a master of any!  I will try anything once!

Did you stay on to further education?
I actually didn’t do very well in my GCSES and failed them first time round No one is to blame, my father was critically ill in hospital while I was taking my exams, and lots of other personal things happened in this period of time.  I just went off the rails and didn’t revise. I have a very short attention span, and I just couldn’t concentrate. I kept on at my weekend jobs, but just couldn’t focus on my school work.

Years later I found out I am dyslexic and I take a little longer than normal to grasp things, this is not in any way being judgemental and making excuses for myself, but it put a lot of things into perspective. I ended up re-sitting my GCSES exams and passed with flying colours the second time round, enough so to secure a place at art and photographic college, to study. I did an OND in art and design and photography, but didn’t go to university.

I worked a few years in the photographic industry straight afterward college, then went on to do other things. I think it’s important that we all get an education and keep our brains active to keep learning but it’s not the be all and end all to obtain degree after degree, so many people have never used them. It really is a case of what profession you are choosing.

Did you plan a career? Or have you reacted to events as they have happened?
As a child I always wanted to be a singer, I had a dream of being an international singer! I did have ago in the  music industry in my mid 20’s it was fun, recorded lots of few tracks, did backing vocals for a few singers and travelled to Sweden to record a song. I even had a bash on ITV Pop Idol in 2001. No regrets, but as I mentioned before, I fell pregnant with my daughter and found Dreamwall. As you can see from my answers I have had many experiences in all sorts of professions.

Who most inspired and motivated the young Hannah?
Madonna, 100% through and through Madonna, my idol.

And who does now?
The amazing people I have met through twitter, social media, every day I am inspired by so many amazing people, there are so many talented souls out there, genuine people who really are supportive and inspiring to others. I love learning about people, and every day I learn something new, all are inspiring.

What is best thing about running your own business? What has been the most exciting and challenging to date?
The best thing about running your own business is that you are your own boss; every day there is a new challenge no day is the same, I have met some amazing people through my business.

The most challenging to date would be the fact I was a first time mum, with a new baby at home, and I was also starting a new venture with Dreamwall. Those two combined together was challenging, as they both were babies, both needed me to nurture them, grow them, support them, and somehow I managed to find a balance of running a new business with a new baby all from home – so yes that’s been the most challenging part to date.

And worse…?
There isn’t any! OK I admit it’s not all being glossy and plain sailing but seriously I have no regrets. The worse times are all put down to challenges and experience.

What advice would you give to any woman thinking of starting their own business?
Just GO FOR IT! We only live once, life is for living, you spend a long time dead! – Seek professional advice, there are plenty of organisations out there who want to help start up new businesses; they can help with all the practicalities of starting a business from accountants, to marketing, grants, funding. And don’t be afraid to collaborate, two heads are better than one.

How do you relax?
I enjoy ME time, if that makes me selfish then that’s OK, but I always take 30 minutes out of the day just to sit down and switch my mind off from everything, I like to walk, run, bike. It’s something that has always stuck in my head from school, my form tutor once told the class in tutorials that as we get older we need ME time to collect our thoughts, time to reflect, and I have always taken her advice and still do. Even if it means getting up early before your children wake up, grab those few precious moments on your own and switch off.

What (or who) makes you most happy?
My daughter – her smile is contagious, her love and laughter, she is spirited and keeps me grounded. And I adore my boyfriend my soul mate . My family, mum dad, sister they are my rock. My close friends. To sum it up I always surround myself around positive kind people.

Do you have a favourite book,  or saying to share that has inspired you?
I am a Jack of all trades not a master of any!  Favourite books that have been an influence is Jack Canfield’s  Chicken Soup for the Soul, and The Secret.

Hannah, thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to talk with us. I hope your story will enthuse other budding entrepreneurs to follow their dreams too!  And continued success with Dreamwalls!


Posted on July 20th, 2010 by

5 Responses to “Inspirational Women-Hannah Coleman”

  1. What a great interview! I loved how Hannah’s work “found her” and thought that her “just go for it” advice was inspiring. Sometimes it seems to me that if we think about things too much we get nothing done.

    And I’m a big fan of The Secret too. There really is something about putting out there what you want and watching it all come about.

    Thanks, Jane, for another lovely interview and good to meet you, Hannah!

    • Jane says:

      Thanks Christine, she’s amazing isn’t she? I love it that she went for it and then found a way to finance it. A true inspiration!

  2. Yeah, I really like that. So many people want to wait till they’ve got six months savings in the bank or some other magic security blanket. Hannah just cut through all that b*******!!

  3. Melanie McDonald (MelMcDonaldArt) says:

    Thanks for this great interview Jane – really enjoyed finding out more about Hannah – she was one of my first twitter friends and we’ve shared jokes about Coleman’s (mustard) and McDonald’s (hamburgers)…. you had to be there!! Always fun and inspiring, fab lady.

    • Jane says:

      Thanks, Melanie. Hannah’s interview has really inspired loads of people, which is what this site is all about!

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