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

Archie Archer, 38, owns entertainment agency Contraband

Inspire and Mentor
Inspire and Mentor
(Image credit: Steve Dunlop)

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.