Today, we want to talk to you about another great woman behind a great business: Rio Brown and her Literary Emporium. Rio started her bookish company in 2012 as a creative outlet for her love of English literature. Her products are aimed to book lovers like her, looking for memorabilia of their favourite writers.
Literary Emporium’s pieces are all unique and personally developed by Rio. They range from clothing items to jewellery, stationery and prints. Rio’s success has also taken over different stockists in London: you can find her products sold in The National Portrait Gallery and Keats’ House, other than Oxford University’s Bodleian Libraries.
Rio agreed to take part in our series ‘Women Entrepreneurs’ and has answered for us a few questions about being a woman in business in this day and age. Here’s what she had to say:
Did you have any knowledge of how to run a business before starting one? Being it from school, personal acquaintances or work.
I had absolutely no idea how to run a business, but I knew that it was what I wanted to do so I was happy to learn as I went along. Six years on, I’m still learning new things every day – no day is the same when you run your own business!
When you decided to start your business, what was it that made you say ‘yes, the world needs this right now’? Especially as the entrepreneurship world can seem quite overwhelming and overwhelmed at the moment.
The business started more as a creative outlet for me rather than identifying a gap in the market. I was just lucky that when I tentatively started selling a few items, they were well received, and it just grew from there.
There’s obviously been a lot of talks lately around sexism in the workplace, gender pay gap and issues that generally affects women in business. What was the difference between the expectations you had and what you actually found as a woman creating her own business?
I went into business having no particular expectations about being a woman-led business, but I have experienced ‘micro-sexism’ such as questions in meetings being directed to my boyfriend rather than to me. Thankfully this doesn’t happen often, but I have found that sometimes people take the business less seriously because I’m a woman.
Do you feel the pressure to present in a certain way, or act in a certain way of being a woman in business?
I haven’t personally experienced any pressure, but I can relate to that fact that women seem to be shoehorned into certain roles in business such as a ‘mumpreneur’ or ‘girl boss.’ I choose not to be involved in anything that could pressure me to present in a certain way.
Was it hard to get people invested in your vision and how did you go on about it (from actual investors to the people working around you, to your customers)?
Luckily the book community on social media is very strong and full of people who are passionate for all thing’s literature, so it didn’t take long for my customers to get my vision and be part of my business journey. It’s so useful to be able to share ideas on Instagram etc and get direct feedback from customers.
Thank you so much to Rio for taking the time to be part of our series. We encourage and support every woman to follow their entrepreneur dreams and hope these interviews will give you the confidence to do so.
If you liked this post, make sure to read beauty brand Lamazuna’s interview as well.