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The Great Resignation is here. Workers are jumping out of their old careers and choosing surprising new career paths, just like the subject of this blog who quit their finance job to sell used furniture.
Despite high number of vacancies in the UK jobs market, people are still quitting their jobs to start their own businesses or change careers.
In our new series, we speak to normal people about why they decided to quit their jobs and whether they’re now happy or regret their decision.
Read our previous Great Resignation articles here:
- ‘My lockdown-inspired business idea now turns over £1 million’
- I quit my cushy HSBC job to start an ethical sock company
- The ex-police officer who quit his job to start leadership programmes
- The SEO consultant who went freelance for more flexibility, autonomy, and money
We speak with Flora Scott, former head of communications and marketing at an asset management firm, on why she quit her job.
Now she’s a business owner at PearTree, a company that makes the sourcing of sustainable, fully restored furniture, easy.
Why did you resign your previous role?
I also realised that for so much of my working life, my job defined who I was. I felt it gave me a sense of purpose and made me feel like that was who I was.
We all realised, during Covid, that other things were more important, and perhaps simply working very hard just didn’t cut it anymore.
Social responsibility was also something I banged the drum about for many years and really felt I had worked hard to try and implement change within my organisation.
I was struggling to make much of a difference which began to make me feel fairly futile.
You mentioned you feel like your job defined who you were. Is this the case now?
It was a really, really hard decision to make, resigning from my workplace.
Particularly as a woman with children, who’s gone through periods of maternity leave, workplace identity can feel like a reflection of your whole value.
It’s your purpose, it’s your worth. I was so desperate to say I’m not just a mum, which is awful, because actually being a mum is the best thing in the world.
Once I’d actually done it and quit my job, it felt like when you do those safety swimming lessons at school where I had to swim in your pyjamas, and pretend you’ve been shipwrecked, and you have to swim in your place for safety.
Swimming in your pyjamas is really, really hard work. As soon as you get them off, you think, ‘oh, this is great. I feel so free.’ And oh, God, I was so worried about quitting, so anxious. It had been months of sleepless nights. I think I’d completely overreacted in my head, with this ‘epoch defining’ moment of quitting a job.
Then life opportunities came up, and we also came up with this idea. Other people approached me and asked if I would work with them which was such a confidence boost. I realised I’m not just useless, futile and not getting anywhere.
I’m afraid women are still not treated equally to men in our industry, I think it’s a confidence issue as much as anything else. You spend decades feeling undervalued, underpaid, undermined, it’s really a systemic issue. And to come out and think ‘no, that’s enough,’ felt very freeing.
Can you tell me more about your business?
My husband Charlie had been interested in furniture restoration for a long time. He spent over ten years working for an auction house selling art where he’d had a fair bit of exposure with the antique furniture team.
The furniture industry can be quite an expensive minefield. A lot of people feel they either have to go to Ikea, where the quality is mixed and the prices are going up.
But then only to discover the stuff had been shipped halfway around the world to get here, and it wasn’t actually very good and falling apart quite quickly.
Or even having to go to a place such as John Lewis and spending a lot of money only to discover it was shipped from China.
Charlie was doing an MBA at the time, and ended up writing his thesis on second-hand furniture in the UK. He found out a lot of UK’s landfill is furniture. That’s when we got our business idea for Peartree.
What we’re doing is simply restoring second-hand furniture. A real mix of middle range pieces, just good furniture that can be used again.
But items that otherwise would be chucked out at house clearances, or local auctions. Just finding solid bits of furniture, making them fit for modern use and selling that.
It has been going surprisingly well. Instagram is a great tool these days. I think there was definitely a resurgence getting brown furniture specifically, and it’s also just people being a bit more conscious of it. We think about what we eat, what we wear. Do we think about what we sit on?
We established a workshop at home last summer. We’re out there most of the time, which makes a nice change from sitting at a desk.
I imagine my children will be quite shocked about how we used to live; squeezing onto a tube everyday, then sitting in a glass box where you literally couldn’t see the outside world, sometimes eating three meals a day at your desk – that’s nuts .
I sometimes can’t believe I spent 13 years doing that, it’s so good to see the world changing.
Dana is a former reporter at Mouthy Money, having previously worked for Times Money Mentor and the BBC.