Changing careers and avoiding the proverbial banana-skins – guest post by Nikki Hollier

Niki Hollier pic

When Viewvo approached me to become a mentor I was absolutely delighted as I love helping people and the thought of working with anyone wanting to change their career and follow their passions really appealed to me as I know I can help them along their ‘journey’.

I was in corporate IT for 20 years and was trapped by the lifestyle I was living, but what I didn’t realise was it’s a vicious circle – you go to lavish events and need a new outfit, so you need to earn the money to buy the new outfit, but once you’re out of the circle you realise you don’t need a wardrobe full of clothes or go on oodles of holidays, so you don’t need to earn a six figure salary to pay for the lifestyle.

The last few years of my career I knew I wanted to do something more creative with my life, but had no idea what direction to head in, so if Viewvo had been around then, I would have jumped at the chance to shadow an expert to see if I liked any of the careers that were appealing to me.

In the end, my new career chose me – but I didn’t know it at the time!  I had moved house many times and each time I had refurbished and renovated the house to how I wanted it.  I always received lots of compliments about my styling but I thought people were just being polite.  Then during my last house renovation I caught one of my decorators taking a photo of my tin of paint and I asked him what he was doing as I thought it was a bit odd, and he replied saying he loved the colour and that he’s never worked with an interior designer before.  That moment was my catalyst and I knew I needed to offer home renovations to others and I set up my first business a few months later.  I modelled myself upon TV program Phil Spencer’s Secret Agent.

I quickly realised I needed to expand my horticultural skills (I had already studied at Pershore Horticultural College) so I enrolled on an intensive garden design course, which enabled me to submit my application to the RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) a few weeks later to build my first show garden.  What could be difficult about building a show garden I hear you ask, but I can honestly say it was the most time consuming, physically and emotionally draining project I have ever done.  But equally it was the absolute best project ever and I would love to create another one if time & budget allowed. I won a silver award and also the Peoples Choice Award, so not bad for a newbie!

Nick Hollier pic2

During this time I also started writing for the local paper – a monthly article on gardening and I also designed and created a product called Border in a Box.  This was a seed that was sown during one of the many house moves, where I lived in a new build property and like all new houses, there was a patch of turf at the back which was so uninspiring and boring that I needed to inject some life and colour into it. The soil was horrendous, completely compacted and I could hardly get a fork into it. I had zero money to pay for a garden designer, which meant I had to get on and complete it myself. From this experience, I thought there must be many new home owners that are short on time, a limited budget but want a nice garden, so I created lovely designs and packaged them in a tin, so they make the perfect housewarming gift that is really practical, which I sell via Amazon and my website.

I also set up my first garden design centre at a local garden centre a few months after completing my show garden and converted an unused shed into my lovely office!

After being in the corporate world my network revolved around the business of IT, so to move into a completely new career, I would have loved a mentor from Viewvo to guide me through the transition, help me avoid some banana skins and generally work out a lot quicker where I needed to invest my time and money.  It’s very easy to get distracted by shiny things and people, so to have a plan in place makes life much easier. I’ve had a very interesting journey so far, and all of these amazing opportunities happened within 12-18 months of starting my business.

So if you want to know how to

  • Change careers and see if your chosen path is the right option for you
  • Find out what it’s like to be your own boss
  • Build your network and find your ‘tribe’
  • Work out how social media can help you and your business
  • Take your product or service to market
  • Survive financially
  • Plus a million other questions running around in your head!

Your brain can get really overloaded with ‘what if’ questions and ideas trying to work out what to do for the best, so a mentor is a great place to start as you can ask as many questions as you like and know that they have been through it all and can give you great advice, insight and practical solutions that can help you make a decision on the way forward. You might not want to be a garden designer, but I can certainly help you with the process of becoming your own boss.

So my only advice is to do your research about everything, love what you do and find the right mentor!


Nikki Hollier is Creative Director and Founder of  Border in a Box

 View Nikki’s ViewVo mentor profile and connect with her here


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s