A Coffee With Phoebe Dawson
Hi, Phoebe. Welcome to the journal. We're super excited that you're here! Can you introduce yourself?
Hey, I'm Phoebe. I’m 23, living in London, running my two brands; Borrowed From and Daisy Lily. I also make lifestyle and home content on TikTok for fun, and as a side hustle.
You've shown your followers your very impressive coffee making station, so let's start with our favourite question here at Lepelclub - How do you drink your coffee?
My coffee choice is basic, but I experiment with beans; I love trying different brands from different origins. My usual choice is just a latte or an iced vanilla latte, always accessorised with a cute spoon from Lepelclub. It might be controversial, but I'm not too fond of alternative kinds of milk. I’m lactose intolerant and have tried all kinds of milk, but lactose-free milk is my go-to.
Your social media accounts inspire our interior picks every day. How did you find your personal style, and who or what inspires you?
Growing up, I constantly watched YouTube, scrolled on Pinterest, and flicked through my Mum's interior magazines. Over time my taste was formed from across the content I consumed. I fell for the 'clean girl' aesthetic when I moved out, but after a while realised that was not me. I slowly started to incorporate other aspects of design trends I gravitated towards into my interiors, and began injecting colours and textures throughout my home.
I've had the privilege to stay in some beautiful places worldwide with equally striking interiors. Last year, I visited The Lily of The Valley hotel in the South of France; the superbly curated design sparked inspiration in me. Once I got home, I started plotting my house makeover. I love travelling, I feel most creative abroad. Without exception, no matter where I am, I take photos of everything that inspires me or looks interesting. My camera roll is full of images of tiles, plant pots, chairs… Anything and everything. I've always had a creative mind; I need the environment around me to feel curated and inspiring.
My Mum has a strong love for interior design, and we regularly chat about furniture and our interior plans. Growing up, my parents were always updating and tweaking our home. They have certainly influenced my taste and love for design.
Your followers respond well to your lifestyle content, particularly your vlog-style photo rolls and videos. What does a typical day in your life look like when the camera is not rolling?
My routine changes daily, and I have more freedom to be spontaneous as I work for myself. However, I try to keep disciplined and have a good workflow. You might not think this from my content, but I am naturally disorganised and I’m constantly trying to become structured.
My TikTok shows the curated and tidied version of my life, as I am a perfectionist in my work and the content I produce. Generally, my weekday consists of doing admin for both of my brands, sending orders, creating content, and planning/hosting the weekly Beading & Boozing events I put on for Daisy Lily. And drinking a lot of caffeine in between! On the weekends, I look forward to getting a coffee or breakfast out, seeing my friends & family, visiting a new restaurant in London and, without a doubt, consuming a few spicy margs.
Alongside content creation, you've founded both an accessories business (Daisy Lily) and a clothing rental business (Borrowed From). Can you tell us more about both?
I started Daisy Lily with my sister during the first lockdown. The names of my three sisters and I all contain flowers. My sister is Melissa Daisy, and I’m Phoebe Lily, so we thought the brand name had a cute meaning behind it. I had just finished my fashion communication degree at university and felt a big part of my creative outreach had plummeted after my final hand-in. As I said, I have a creative soul, so it was only a short time before I was watching tutorials to find my next hobby. We started selling our designs to raise money for a charity, and then we started getting more interest, so we decided to keep it going as a side hustle.
I look back at when we first started and laugh at our branding, designs, etc. But everyone must start somewhere, and to see how the brand has developed and changed over time is very cool. Fast forward three years, and we now host a jewellery-making event (Beading & Boozing), where attendees can make unlimited beaded accessories for 2 hours while enjoying a drink. Thanks to TikTok, our first event sold out all dates. We now run weekly public and private events at our London Studio. You can buy tickets and shop our handmade designs on our website.
Borrowed From is a fashion rental collective founded by myself; it's my newest venture, launched at the end of 2022. Our main intention is to provide a sustainable and affordable way to shop and wear desirable fashion through renting, lending, and borrowing. The brief for my final project at uni was, essentially, to create a brand and show how I’d communicate it to my consumer. I constructed a fashion rental brand that primarily targets Gen-Z consumers; I never thought it would be possible to launch as an actual business, but after perfecting my concept and constructing my business plan, it became a reality.
Growing up in a household with five females, there were numerous hand-me-down and our wardrobes were practically shared between each other and friends. I thought - Why not create a wardrobe that can be shared with anyone and be a part of the reinvention in how fashion is purchased? You can experience Borrowed From through our website or at our London showroom (by appointment only)
What has been the most challenging part of starting your own businesses, and what has been the best?
The biggest mental challenge is that during workdays, times can become lonely. You can feel like you are missing out on the social aspect of working with colleagues. To avoid feeling this way, I regularly plan to see my friends and family during the week. I also meet many lovely people at our events, so I always leave feeling uplifted. When you are so consumed and focused on your business's success, it can become hard to have a good balance between work and play. Often, when I am performing my best at work, I am not replying to texts or making social plans. You can feel like a bad friend or become isolated from the 'fun' version of yourself. I am still working on creating a good balance between the two.
Another challenge that can hit home is criticism. Constructive or not, it always feels personal. Even though the person giving it may not intend for it to be, because it's related to my own brand, I take everything to heart. Often, I could receive ten compliments, but that one negative review will stick with me and shift my whole mood. But the positive is, it shows that I care and always want my customers to receive the best product/experience.
Advancing from school and higher education, to being your own boss, can be a hard adjustment as there isn't anyone pushing you or monitoring you to be, or even try to be, your best; it's all on you. As long as I am my own number one fan and surround myself with inspiring and encouraging people, I tell myself - You've got this! I have days where my motivation slacks, and I think for a moment - Is this what I should be doing? But I usually wake up the following day with a new perspective and new ideas for improving my brands. I’m lucky because many of my family members have their own businesses, so I have easy access to advice. They can relate to any problems I may have and help me solve them.
Following on from some of the challenges you’ve faced, what's the best piece of business advice you've ever received?
That no question is a stupid question. Feel encouraged to ask others for help or advice, especially those who have been doing it longer than you. Nobody is born with business knowledge, it's all learnt from others and personal experience. The saying - If you don't ask, you don't get, is spot on. A lot of my business highs have come from asking for something I want. Don't wait for opportunities to come to you because they may never arrive. Another piece of advice, which may sound cliché, is to always treat customers the way you want to be treated and to never step on anyone on your way up; it's surprising how people come back into your life and career.
And finally, how do you hope to stir things up further in the future?
By continuing to pursue and build my brands to reach new people, and to always be proud of the product or experience we are providing. My goal is to continue creating content that inspires other people and puts a smile on their face, whether it’s a stranger or friend. This summer, I also want to make more travel content and see what opportunities that could lead to.
Follow Phoebe on TikTok, @Phoebelily_ and keep up with her business success on Instagram, @daisylily___ and @borrowedfrom__.