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How I Built My… with Vicki from Smith Nicholson Painters & Decorators

Vicki Smith isn’t your average painter & decorator.

She’s a marathon-running, multiple-sclerosis conquering mother with her own successful business.

We sit down for a brew to see what drives her to overcome what seem like insurmountable odds and all while running her company, Smith Nicholson.

Vicki, thanks for having us! Tell us, how did you start out in the world of painting and decorating?

I started my apprenticeship with a company in Central London when I was 20, after being interested in the trades for a while. We worked on some amazing buildings including The Royal Courts of Justice, Clarence House and The Foreign and Commonwealth Office – to name a few!

And what do you do now?

I’m now 30, self-employed and a fully qualified painter and decorator. I started my own business just over two years ago and have been very busy ever since. I’m also a mum to two girls.

Describe your typical day

My typical day starts with an early wake up call to get the kids ready for school, then a trip to breakfast club before their school day starts. Then I dash to wherever I may be working that particular day. I could be stripping wallpaper, hanging it, painting a small bedroom or completely re-vamping a large lounge. Then I pick my girls up from the childminder, help them with their homework and do dinner etc. Once they’re in bed, I go on to catch up on any emails or enquiries and keep up with my paperwork.

How would you say you go that extra mile for your customers?

I always give honest and friendly (and free!) advice to all of my customers. I also make sure that I don’t leave until the customer is 100% happy.

If you had to choose, what’d be your favourite bit of kit?

Does my van count?! I treated myself this year to a brand new one and it’s been the best purchase I’ve made!

How do you unwind?

I play golf or go to the driving range.

What are you most proud of?

Aside from my children and my husband, it has to be the obstacles that I have overcome. I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and chiari malformation in 2013. I had brain surgery in 2014 and then suffered meningitis 3 weeks afterwards. I then ran the London marathon 9 months after that. I’m pretty proud of the fact that despite these odds, I’ve managed to create a good business and reputation.

We’re brewing up – what’s yours?

Strong coffee, white, with two sugars.

Finally, what’s your top bit of advice for anybody thinking of starting out in a trade?

Get your qualifications/accreditations and don’t be afraid to take that jump. It might be scary at first, but work hard and a few months down the line, you’ll wonder what on earth you were worried about!

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