Susie Reid Thomas launched her business after having a bright idea, pardon the pun. Founder of Twilight Trees, a brand that offers iconic and sculptured LED trees (trees with lights) for glamorous events and clients around the world.
House of Coco spent some time chatting to this wonderful #Girlboss to find out more…
Tell us a bit about Twilight Trees and your journey to getting where you are today?
Twilight Trees have been adding both glamour and elegance to events and houses throughout the UK since 2014. It’s been an exciting two years albeit slightly mad from what started as a bit of a hair brain idea! We started working locally renting the trees for parties but trees really took off and were soon adorning some of London’s most prestigious venues, and romantic weddings up and down the country. We have sent trees to LA, a private house in Mauritius, Jamaica and overlooking the Alps, I wish I could have gone with them! We have increased our range significantly and have just launched our first range of non LED trees called ‘Trees in Bloom’.
Twilight Trees was born out of …
A gut instinct really. I previously ran a boutique PR company in London so I had business experience and as soon as I saw the trees I knew that I had to bring them to the UK market.
What has been your highlight since launching the brand?
Every event and every sale still gives me such a buzz but there’s nothing quite like seeing the whole of Burlington Arcade lit up with an avenue of LED Cherry Trees or the grand entrance of the Natural History Museum twinkling with Twilight Trees!
Describe the brand 3 words?
Illuminating, magical, fun!
Who is involved in the brand?
I head up Twilight Trees but have a small, hardworking team behind me that are involved in most aspects of the business. I also have a very understanding husband and family! My two little boys in particular like to ‘help’ where they can and wear their branded hoodies with pride.
Your trees really do give the WOW factor, tell is more about your typical client?
Our client base varies hugely. We have sold trees to people that simply want a little sparkle on their roof terrace and celebrities who want a 3m Grande cherry tree adorning their kitchen! We rent to people that are looking to create a special atmosphere at their wedding with large and small budgets. We have done several events that are so secret that we have to sign our lives away. We have also worked with quite a few retail outlets. One retailer in particular said the window was so effective in attracting customers into their shop that they sold out of their Christmas stock in a week! We also sold quite a few trees as a result and will be back again this Christmas!
Tell us what a typical day in your life looks like?
Usually its rather chaotic but I like to think it’s always a lot of fun. I work from home which means I always have people in and out of the house. Whether its clients coming to view our new showroom, builders asking questions as they build our new storage facility or my team getting on with their daily tasks- Twilight Trees HQ is never quiet. I love it that way though and really feel that we work off the energy that that type of environment brings! Of course a lot of my role involves being at my computer and I am constantly on the phone. The events themselves are as glamorous as the venues that we decorate but I can tell you that a lot of the work isn’t! I might be at a ball at Somerset house on Saturday night but until every branch is in place I am most likely to be found in my high-vis jacket and hard hat sipping tea from a polystyrene cup with the rest of the boys!
Before Twilight Trees, what did you do on the work front?
I’ve always had an entrepreneurial streak and love the sense of achievement and freedom you get from working for yourself. Before I had my children I ran a buzzing PR company I the heart of London. We mainly represented luxury brands and got to be involved with some really exciting projects. We moved down to Hampshire after I had my second son and rather than continuing the PR I went back to my creative routes and made sculptures out of cow horns which I sold to private clients and through galleries. Whatever I have done in my career I always aim to provide the same friendly and efficient service and I have always been lucky enough to have attracted lovely customers of a like mind.
It can be hard to juggle married life and a business, what do you do to switch off from work?
Tell me about it! When I do find the time to switch off I love to entertain. I know I spend a lot of time at home as my business is based there but you’d be surprised how often Twilight Trees HQ is turned into party house. We are lucky enough to have a pool so summer days are spent with great friends, barbequing, sipping rose and watching the kids just be kids!
Who/what inspires you?
I have some great role models in my life. My father has his own property business, his mind is always whirring with the next idea / project and I like to think that I have the same work ethic. My husband is also an incredibly hard worker and although we are in very different lines of work I do use him for guidance and advice. If we are talking celebrities I ADORE Joanna Lumley. We were lucky enough to have met her at a recent event and I thought I might explode when she draped herself around one of our LED maple trees and told me how wonderful she thought they were! Not only is she beautiful, fabulous and talented but she campaigns tirelessly for what she believes in. What’s not to be inspired by?
What are your plans for the brand in 2016?
Oh my gosh 2016 is our most exciting one yet! We have some huge events coming up. We won’t tell yet, but wait till you see what we have in store…
Did you always know that one day you would be a #Girlboss?
Not initially but having worked in bigger companies I wasn’t keen on the hierarchy and the fact it takes so long to get things done. I like the freedom of being your own boss and creating your own destiny.
If there’s one #Girlboss activity you could get better at, what would it be?
Twilight Trees has seen huge success in the past 2 years but I sometimes have to remind myself of that. We have worked so hard to get the business to where it is and I sometimes have to make myself stop and remember that we have real credibility in the market. I sometimes shy away from negotiation and try not to take myself too seriously but I know that this is something I have to work on. At the end of the day this is a business and every now and again I have to have to wear the metaphorical shoulder pads, talk the talk and walk the walk, even if sometimes I feel like I’m just pretending…I am the boss and I’ve worked hard to get where I am.
For women aspiring to run their own company, what advice would you give?
I think it’s a really good do as much work experience as possible and take experience from wherever you can. Always go with your gut instinct. Women tend to over think things and put barriers where there aren’t any. If you feel something’s right; just go with it and work hard. Listen to advice other people give but only pick out the relevant bits. A lot of people laughed at me when I started Twilight Trees, they thought I was utterly bonkers- it didn’t stop me, in fact it made me want to do it even more.