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Hazel Russell, The Wood Life Project

Hazel Russell co-founded The Wood Life Project, based in Attleborough, with her husband Jimmy in 2019.

The company designs and sells eco-friendly wooden products as alternatives to plastic.

Hazel first sought intellectual property guidance from BIPC Norfolk, and went on to receive help with finance, strategy and raising funds.

More about Hazel and The Wood Life Project

Why did you want to start a business? What was your motivation?

The decision to create our company was borne out of concerns we had for the future of our planet and the legacy which was being left for our boys.

It felt as if every day we were learning more and more facts about the deterioration of our wonderful planet and the plastic pollution crisis.

So, we decided to create a brand with vision to end the plastic revolution and the throw-away mindset of our generation. A brand which would inspire others and change the way people consume forever.


Tell us a bit about your business

We create beautiful, innovative, eco-friendly and practical wooden products for the family home, with a focus on mealtimes.

We manufacture in the UK only and use trees which have been sustainably grown and harvested in the UK only too.

We launched to wholesale in September 2019 and to date have sold to 65 retailers in the UK. We have a few overseas retailers too.

We sell on our own website and on third party platforms such as Not on the High Street, Joules and Etsy.


How has the Covid-19 pandemic affected your business?

Prior to Covid, 90% of trade was to retailers, so when Covid struck, we lost a lot of sales due to the shops closing.

We needed to react quickly and turn our focus to growing our presence online.


Which of BIPC Norfolk's services have you used?

We first sought support from BIPC Norfolk at the Millennium Library in Norwich for help with intellectual property, then went on to get further support from a MENTA Business Advisor.


How have they helped you with the business?

The BIPC have helped us to get started with protecting our brand and our products, by the advice they have given us on intellectual property and legal documents, such as manufacturing agreements and non-disclosure agreements.


What advice would you give anyone looking to start a business?

To use the support and guidance offered by the BIPC. It is a free service, and it helps so much.

When you first have your idea, it is important to do your homework and research to see if what you are offering is unique and if you could come up with any opposition from other brands. The BIPC can help with market research to help secure your brand positioning and integrity.

They have lots of other 1-to-1 sessions available, such as with legal teams and accountancy firms - all really valuable for any start-up.


When not dealing with your business, what do you like to do in your spare time (if you have any!)?

I have two young children, who keep me very busy! I love to keep fit and challenge myself physically, so in the mornings, I set a 5.30am alarm and exercise before the rest of the house wakes up.


Has there been a book that inspired you?

I don't often have time to sit and read a book, so I tend to listen to audio books and podcasts on-the-go (when exercising and when driving).

The best book I have listened to in a long time has to be 'Happy Sexy Millionaire' by Steven Bartlett. The podcasts I listen to religiously include 'The High Performance Podcast', 'The Good Luck Club', 'Secret Leaders' and 'Conversations of Inspiration'.


Is there anything else you'd like to share about your experience of starting and running a business?

It's not who you know or what you know, it's who knows you. What I mean by this is people need to know your business exists in order to make sales.

It also means that there is huge value in having a great network around you, to share advice, share connections and learn from. All in all, running your own business is not for the faint hearted. It is a roller-coaster of emotions - very low-lows and very high-highs.

There are no days when I completely switch-off, and that is okay with me, as I am obsessed with making the business a success.


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