3 June 2021|Female Founder Spotlight, Latest Posts, Meet the Successful Founder
Sophie Birkert founded Screen With Envy in 2017. It is her sheer determination and drive for success, even in the most challenging of circumstances, which has seen the company grow and succeed. Combining the desire for both a beautiful outdoor space and adequate privacy, Screen with Envy provides affordable and well-made garden screens, fences and accessories. Available in a range of chic designs and made from wood composite, the brand’s mission is to help people achieve zero maintenance, stunning gardens. We caught up with Sophie recently to discover more about her entrepreneurship journey.
Can you tell us a little about your background and the company?
Screen with Envy was born out of a desire to offer beautiful, durable garden screening. Its portfolio now covers everything from screens and fences to trellises, slat panels, gates and posts, plus revolutionary ‘wallpaper’ fencing. All products combine chic design with vigorous testing and practicality, and with bespoke, made-to-measure designs also available, there is undoubtedly a Screen with Envy for every home. Screen with Envy’s mission is to transform homes and gardens up and down the country, achieving zero maintenance, stunning spaces.
How did the idea come to you for the company?
I had a real need for the screens in my own garden. I had been granted planning permission on our small London flat that was heavily overlooked, and I wanted a screening solution that was stylish, affordable, and could be easily cut to size. I could not find anything so made it myself!
How did you achieve awareness?
With our Instagram page and press coverage. We have done some great collaborations with influencers and have seen coverage in the likes of Grazia, The Times and Ideal Home magazine.
How have you been able to gain funding and grow?
I have not received any funding and have used all the money that came from sales to go back into the business – creating products, expanding, and building an amazing team. This has not always been easy, but I am so glad I still own the company fully and have not needed to give up any equity to fund the growth.
What are the key successes?
Probably how we were able to still grow during the pandemic. Even for the largest corporations in the UK, the news of lockdown in response to the COVID-19 crisis was worrying. For a small business with a new lease and staff to pay, this could have been catastrophic. Furthermore, with garden centres closing, our stock was piling up with no way of shifting it anytime soon. In addition, as many full- time working mothers were to experience, I was required to immediately home school my children, while managing the business, warehouse and ensuring sales were coming in to pay my staff.
What were/are the challenges and how have you overcome these
I re-strategised my business, focussing on lower priced products points and volume rather than higher ticket items. We also started selling Covid – 19 screening, enabling businesses to re-open post-lockdown in a safe and stylish manner. We wanted to support other small businesses like ours in these terribly difficult times.
What are your plans now/for the future?
New products and new markets. I am a product person to my core. I will make more products and expand Screen With Envy in new countries. The future is exciting.
What would you like to share with others to encourage them to start their own entrepreneurship journey?
There is no right time to start, so go for it. And never give up. Every day has difficulties, but the journey is amazing. Each day I would choose it again and again. I started the business while I was pregnant with my 3rd child. I had no childcare. I had no support, but I was determined, and I worked really hard. Looking back on it now, I am amazed that I took such a risk at such a time but it was worth it!
Can you share you top tips for entrepreneurial success?
· Be optimistic – I always believed I could do it, and I still believe the best of Screen With Envy is ahead of us
· Don’t be afraid of money – spending it on new ideas and making those ideas happen
· Be original – I have no interest in selling other people’s products or ideas
· Move – I have not stopped chasing growth and new opportunities
· Visit – other businesses, see what other people are doing and how they
Who are the people who inspire you the most?
I don’t really follow other accounts and I am not big into reading about entrepreneurialism. Sara Blakely’s journey is incredibly inspiring but I must admit I have just focused on my work and have not spent a lot of time looking at other people.
What are your favourite inspirational /motivational quotes?
“Solutions solve problems” and “I don’t give a ***, it’s happening” – normally after someone tells me something can’t be done, or is impossible.
What are your social handles and website links so our readers can connect with you?