The LOWE Group is a family-run business, with husband-and-wife team Tim and Poppy Lowe. Poppy works on the operational side of the business ensuring all departments run smoothly. Before moving to LOWE full-time four years ago, Poppy worked in the luxury interior design sector and so has experienced two very different sides of the property industry.
Our Marketing Manager Chloe sat down with Poppy to chat about her time in the industry thus far, working alongside her husband and balancing running a full-time business with being a new mother.
How did you start your career?
Having done a range of work experience in the interior design world, I decided that the business side was of more interest to me rather than the design side and so was really happy to land my first job working for Karen Howes at Taylor Howes Designs. I joined at an incredibly exciting time in the business and having progressed to PR & Brand Manager, experienced first-hand a business going through a huge growth phase, including all the highs and lows that come with it. I had told Karen in my first interview that my ultimate goal was to run my own business and so was very lucky that when the time came to venture out on my own, she was incredibly supportive.
When did you join LOWE?
When Tim first launched what was then Lowe Cost Guardians, I was still working at Taylor Howes and so helped him after work with the brand development. After saying goodbye to the Taylor Howes team, I moved to LOWE part-time, working on the marketing whilst I began a separate project. My workload at LOWE quickly increased and having realised that I missed working in a team, Tim and I decided, against everyone’s advice, to take the plunge and work together full-time. That was now over four years ago, and it is very strange to think that we once didn’t work together! We have very differing skills and know where our own strengths and weaknesses lie, which I think is very beneficial and it stops us (for the most part!) treading on the other’s toes.
How did LOWE compare in those early days to how it is now?
In the early years, when we were still squeezed into a tiny shipping container, it was very much a case of everyone pitched in with everything regardless of your role, so whilst everyone got a really good oversight of all elements of the business, it could be quite frustrating for people as they were pulled in all directions. Whilst we are still a relatively small team of twenty, we now have separate departments for each of our services which gives everyone a lot more direction in their role. The nature of how the business works means that really great communication between each department is intrinsic to the smooth running of the company and to really grow within the team, you need to be multi-skilled and hugely adaptable.
We have tried hard to maintain a good work-life balance for everyone and so from the beginning were keen that we didn’t go into the usual start-up mode of people feeling like we needed to work all hours of the day in order to be a success. Whilst it is still rare for anyone to need to do work outside of work hours, as we have grown it has definitely become harder, particularly for the senior team, to leave all thoughts of work at the door. If Tim and I slip into work chat at home, we have to be strict about parking it until we are next in the office but naturally there are times when it does makes sense to go over things away from the office.
We have experienced many amazing highs and some very big lows over the years and have learnt more than we could have ever imagined from both. If you don’t have a thick skin already, running your own business is definitely a way to fast track getting one – you quickly learn that you can never be complacent and that if you don’t constantly evolve, you aren’t going to be able to move forward.
How did you manage becoming a first-time parent whilst running a business?
I was running the Guardian Services and Operations teams when we found out that we were having a baby and so made the decision that when he arrived, I would step down from the day-to-day guardian management and come back in a purely operation role. Freddy Halliday, our current Head of Guardian Services, joined LOWE two weeks before our son Rafa arrived, and having not come from a property background, was really thrown into the deep end! He handled the transition amazingly and it was a huge weight off my shoulders knowing that the team had been left, and continues to be, in very capable hands.
Unfortunately as many people will know when you run your own business, it is not always possible to take proper maternity leave and so for the first seven months, before Rafa went to nursery, I did a hybrid-style maternity leave, working from home whilst he slept. It was incredibly challenging trying to juggle both (as anyone working at home with children during Covid will know!) and when I was eventually able to create some separation between work and being a parent, life became a lot more manageable. Whilst I enjoyed the fact that I didn’t feel like I was ever out of the loop of what was happening at work, if we are lucky enough to have another child, I will try to take some proper time off. Our team have developed so much since I first went on maternity leave and I know that they will be completely fine without me!
How do you feel about being a woman in the property industry?
I often get asked this question and it is a difficult one for me to answer on a personal level, as I have gone from a nearly all-female interior design team to working in a team that has an equal number of both sexes and so do not have direct experience of being in a male dominated team. I often visit offices where there are either very few or no women in the team and it makes me very proud to think that we have such a diverse group of people who work with us. We always employ people based on who will be best suited to the role and the team dynamic and it has been that approach that has led to a team that not only are all great at their jobs but all really enjoy each others company.
Here at The LOWE Group, all our empty commercial property services are completely tailor-made to suit your property, designed to protect your vacant building while creating social impact within the local community. Get in touch with our team today on +44 (0) 207 856 0171 to discuss the options to suit your scheme.