As a young woman of 29, living in London, Deborah Rossington took advantage of the lifestyle that the capital had to offer. Having worked as a night club promoter and then moved on to replace Russell Brand selling toner cartridges for a company that recruited out of work actors, she realised that she wanted more in life. After seven years, her and a work colleague decided to make it alone and created an office supply company that now has a £3 million turnover.
This feature interview was first published in issue 79 of the Lincolnshire Business weekly magazine, now available to read at www.lincsbusiness.co. Subscribe to the email newsletter to receive the latest edition in your inbox this Friday.
At 46, the mother of two has never let anything hold her back, not even pregnancy. Having set up Bright Media in 1999 with her business partner Becky Humphreys-Elvis, Deborah wanted to really stand out of the crowd and make an impact on the industry.
“Our industry is very much a male dominated industry and when we first set up we wanted to do it completely differently to anyone else,” Deborah said. “We are bright and bubbly girls, the two of us, and we only employ bright and bubbly people.”
The dynamic duo started out doing what they did best, selling their own manufactured toner cartridges and servicing printers from a basement on Chiltern Street in the centre of London. But over the years, as the industry changed and more technology was being used in offices, Bright Media was given the opportunity to grow and incorporate a wide variety of services, including IT hardware, selling servers, PCs, laptops and more.
“It was a West 1 postcode and that was just like gold dust to us because we could just ring people up and we were close by and we could just deliver.”
The original plan had been to set up the business and run it for five years and then sell it on. Deborah had never intended to still be going strong 17 years later. “We wanted to do it on a five year plan and we were making lots of money before we moved into setting up on our own. It was a big risk.
“After five years we thought we would sell or we were going to open up an acting agency, which is what we wanted to do.”
2004 came and went and when Deborah and Becky sat down to discuss the future of the business, their priorities had changed. “Both of us were married by then. I didn’t want to sell, there was no way that I wanted to sell. I wanted to keep going on and we were doing really, really well.
Both business partners decided that they wanted a family, but they refused to let this affect the running of the business. “Little did I know that I was pregnant at the time and I had Isabel (11). Six months later Becky had her first child.
“It just so happened that two years later, I had Archie (9) and six months later she had her second child. So it worked out all perfectly well.”
A difficult move
It was the 2008 recession that really made Deborah rethink how she wanted to continue her career. She had moved to Lincoln to live with her husband and had been commuting nearly every day to London, catching a 6.15am train and not getting back until 10pm. Even whilst heavily pregnant she was still continuing the journey.
“At the time you don’t think about it, you just do it. I was so scared about taking any more time off with Isabel that I went back to work when she was six weeks old and my husband took a year off. But when they’re babies, although they do need you, it’s when they go through the schooling that they really need that support.”
She was proud of her career and her success with Bright Media, which at the time was providing a service to between 200 and 400 clients. But the recession made Deborah re-evaluate her commute as both suppliers and clients’ pursestrings tightened.
Continue reading the full cover interview with Deborah Rossington in issue 79.
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