I worked for 20 years in marketing for huge corporate companies like The Coca Cola Company, Kraft Foods, Inbev, and Unilever but I knew I needed a new challenge, I guess it started from a lack of personal purpose at that point and motivation about my career. My symptoms were very clear: a bit of discontent, lack of interest, I wasn’t sleeping well at night…
I was looking for something which was more in line with my love of travelling to places I’ve never been to before. I’m obsessed with meeting and learning about new cultures, interacting with new people. On the other hand, I wanted to do something more meaningful professionally.
‘I was looking for something which was more in line with my love of travelling to places I’ve never been to before.’
I started @Design.Junkie while I was still working for a big company but it was purely a hobby, posting photos on Instagram of vintage furniture reupholstered with exotic ethnic textiles. At that point, I was thinking it was similar to a board on Pinterest! It was my way of saving those beautiful images for my home decoration. But then I was inspired by my husband who had started his own business doing what he loves so I took the plunge to start Design Junkie full-time at the start of 2016.
It was all about just finding the courage to take the first step. Fear, uncertainty, and self-doubt are all raw feelings people experience when they consider the idea of starting their own business. It's scary. No doubt about that. Entrepreneurs of all ages and with various levels of experience face internal questioning when taking on a new endeavour as they bring their own unique idea out of their heads and into reality.
‘Fear, uncertainty, and self-doubt are all raw feelings people experience when they consider the idea of starting their own business. It's scary.’
My idea was to reupholster antique armchairs with Guatemalan huipiles or Mexican Otomi textiles, I loved this idea of clashing completely different styles, something that you are not expecting in a piece of furniture. I did an upholstery course and I created 6 or 8 pieces. But the logistics of the industry quickly made me reassess my approach. In many cases, the shipping cost was more expensive than the cost of the chair. Or it is very difficult to sell a chair online.
So, I focused purely on traditional textiles and baskets with intricate patterns, sourcing handmade pieces from around the world. Using insights gained from my marketing days, I created my brand positioning strategy. It took me a couple of months to identify and define what made my business unique. I believe in marketing with purpose. I knew I wanted to create a sustainable business that not only generates profits but also has a positive impact on our world. The new concept was about helping artisans from developing countries to keep their traditional textiles alive. The idea is not only to preserve but revitalize their traditions. Currently, I have pieces from 16 countries (7 in Asia, 5 in South/Central America and 5 in Africa).
‘The new concept was about helping artisans from developing countries to keep their traditional textiles alive.’
This new approach opened up new opportunities on Instagram and I noticed my followers were rapidly increasing the more I posted about suzanis from Uzbekistan, rugs from Morocco, baskets from Uganda and frazadas from Peru.I call myself a story-teller decorator as I am not an interior designer, I am a person who loves decorating homes with meaningful pieces I found on my exotic trips. I love embracing new cultures, mixing them up… I celebrate the originality of each ancestral weaving technique. For me, each piece is artistically expressive, it’s a story. Stories about the makers, the production process, the materials, the expression of a culture, the families involved in the making, the technics, about what they mean for the community.
I am passionate about helping artisans from developing regions thrive. I want to connect their talents and hard work with the more privileged who can afford to create change. In return, my customers feel that they have made a positive impact on the maker's lives while owning unique, ethnic and unusual items with exotic influences. In a way, I am trying to give my clients the possibility to personalize their homes while embracing new cultures. I encourage socially conscious behaviors to leave a positive impact on artisan’s families' lives, opening opportunities for a better future.
‘I want to connect their talents and hard work with the more privileged who can afford to create change.’
After receiving so many messages from entrepreneurs around the world, I cofounded my Marketing consultancy The Curious Beetle for entrepreneurs who want to make a difference, entrepreneurs who want to align profit with impact. We are passionate about world-wide change, for people and planet, and we want to be part of the change that we want to see in the world. The Curious Beetle helps entrepreneurs develop a social brand with a positive impact on the world, that is also a successful and profitable business in which the person can be proud of.
We believe in our ability to be a force for change in the world. We are deeply interested in what gives people purpose, what makes them truly happy, successful, fulfilled… and how we can make these passions a reality. We are here to help turn ambitions and good intentions into a sustainable, successful and impactful business. We are passionate about worldwide transformation and bringing people together. The fact we are based in two different continents, Europe and South America, means we are always thinking globally.
‘We are deeply interested in what gives people purpose, what makes them truly happy, successful, fulfilled… and how we can make these passions a reality.’
If you’re thinking of starting your own business, remember it’s never is too late to start something, to follow your dreams. Make the most with every single opportunity.
1) Set attainable goals - than ignore your inner perfectionist.
2) Throw away the idea that there's a perfect work-life balance.
3) Before you embark on a new business venture, you need to understand the market you want to break into.
4) Write a business plan.
5) Create an elevator pitch. What’s so special about my business idea?
Be brave, fight for your dreams and never give up.
Julieta Tello's story is a perfect example of how to follow your dreams and be able to persevere despite the barriers that might crop up along the way. If you're interested in reading more about successful women in the workplace, check out other recent post on Sue Benson, Managing Director of Behavioural Marketing Company