At the heart of the barefoot accountant, it’s always been about thinking differently, acting authentically and responding positively to change.
I qualified as an accountant back in 2006 whilst living in Edinburgh, but found I spent much of my working life trying to fit the mould of a traditional accountant – and I very clearly wasn’t that! I loved (and still love) live music, the arts, creativity, communication, compassion and knowing I was doing some good in the world. And those things I loved, the things that were most important to me as a person, were not reflected in my work… and so I felt unsatisfied and stifled, and ready for change.
One day, sitting in a café during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, which I adored, I suddenly had an epiphany. Maybe the fact that I didn’t fit the mould was actually a strength. The fact that I was unique and thought differently to my work peers could actually be a brilliant USP!
I was surrounded by creatives in my family and social circles, and knew I wanted to work with the creative industries, and I realised I could offer them something completely different. Qualified, professional accountancy services but delivered in a relaxed, understandable, person-centred way backed by a real passion for, and understanding of, the unique challenges of the creative industries. The concept of the barefoot accountant was born!
My vision was to have a shop where people could just pop in for a comfortable, human experience. The rigours and rules of accountancy and tax can be terrifying, especially for creative types, so I wanted to take that fear away, and help people to feel more relaxed and more in control of their finances.
As we all know, especially right now, life can often throw us curve balls that push us temporarily off course, and the next few years were a time of huge challenge and huge change for me personally, but the seed of the barefoot accountant was always there in the background, waiting for its moment. It was only after relocating back to Hertfordshire, now as a single parent with my amazing daughter, that I took the plunge, quit the day job and finally started the company.
It was just me to start off with, and as any small business owner will know, there is a mountain of information to navigate, new skills to acquire and networks to grow alongside the financial uncertainty of needing to generate your own income. The first years were tough. As a single mother there was no option but to succeed and nothing to fall back on so I put my big girl pants on and went to my first networking event with The Businesses Community in St Albans. Here I learned how to talk to strangers about my business (which was terrifying at first, by the way!), win my first clients and rebuild my confidence (which had been in tatters for so many reasons). And things started to work, to change and to grow in a way that brought me joy, stability and a huge sense of achievement.
Fast forward to 2020 and we have a team of five kick-ass females and a fantastic shop on Redbourn High Street, in Hertfordshire, with exposed brick walls, fake grass under foot, art and quirky objects everywhere and even beautiful bespoke meeting chairs made by a brilliant local designer. As well as it being relaxing for clients, it was important to me that our working environment was a place that the team really felt at home, relaxed, inspired and free to express themselves.
Interestingly, this concept has been particularly great for us working during this past year – as many people struggle with their workplaces and working from home, we know that whenever we’ve been able to work in the office, it is a sanctuary, a safe place, a comfort and an inspiration.