‘When Miss Selfridge rang me I knew my business was a success’

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  • Archie Archer, 38, owns entertainment agency Contraband

    ‘I’ve always been a bit of a hippy and after university, I travelled around India buying products to sell back home.

    ‘I arranged to have a stall on Portobello Road and secured a £2,500 Prince’s Trust loan. From the moment I opened, it was clear that of all the products, the bindis were the most popular.

    ‘However I knew I needed to think bigger. So I handed out my bindis to the managers of every fashion store on Oxford Street along with my contact details. Within days, Miss Selfridge called.

    ‘I’d never been to a proper business meeting before so I borrowed my best friend’s suit – and to my amazement, Miss Selfridge ordered 3,000 bindis. Soon, I was fielding calls from other major stores.

    ‘I began offering henna tattoos at events and people asked if I could arrange belly dancers and snake charmers, too.

    ‘By 2003, I had dozens of contacts for performers and becoming an agent seemed logical. Now we have 1,500 performers and a turn over of more than £2 million.’

    BE ORGANISED: ‘If a client calls, I can give them the info they need in 15 seconds.’

    YOU DON’T NEED AN OFFICE: ‘As long as you have a laptop and a mobile, you can start a business from your bedroom.’

    Archie (contrabandevents.com) won the Athena Award for women aged 36 to 49 at the NatWest everywoman Awards.

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