Emma Semper Hopkins, Director of Semper Hopkins Upholstery and Interiors Ltd
Specialising in design-led, custom-made upholstery and handcrafted furniture
I bought a business premise before I’d even launched my new venture! Realistically, the former Methodist chapel next door to my house should have been the workshop I grew into five years down the line. With the help of my parents however, I took the plunge anyway – putting in a winning bid at auction and applying for planning permission to turn it into a commercial unit.
I was one step closer to achieving my dream: running my own upholstery and interiors business alongside dad, who had gifted me his love of all things creative.
He and mum had returned to the UK in October 2016 after living in Spain for 14 years. They helped out with childcare – giving me the time and encouragement I needed to develop my side hustle into a viable business. That was no easy task, given I was still working 12-hour days as a senior commercial manager for the Co-Op…
Ironically, the only reason I took an Interior Design course in the first place was because I needed a release from my stressful job! I wanted furniture I couldn’t afford when we moved to a new house, so I studied upholstery and learned how to make it myself. I then signed up for a business course, which I did part-time over a couple of years. I set up a workroom at home and began taking commissions from family and friends – using the money to pay for my studies.
Once I returned to work after taking a year’s maternity leave, dad used his building expertise to carry out renovations to the chapel, which kept us focused. After 18 months of juggling work; new motherhood; being a wife; and launching the business, I finally finished my corporate role in December last year.
Dad and I are a breath of fresh air in today’s throwaway society. We design and custom-make industrial-style furniture using reclaimed materials, as well as completing amazing chair transformations with customised upholstery!
People say you’re brave to be self-employed, but for me it’s all about quality of life. I didn’t have my son not to be able to see him – and every day I put my energy into something I love.