International Women’s Month 2020: Meet Elaine Penhaul, Owner of Lemon and Lime Interiors

International Women’s Month 2020: Meet Elaine Penhaul, Owner of Lemon and Lime Interiors

Elaine Penhaul, owner of leading home staging business, Lemon and Lime Interiors discusses what it’s like to be a woman in business, telling us about her biggest achievements, and the major barriers she’s faced.


Being a woman in business…

Being a woman in business has been such a positive experience for me. I have been able to lead my businesses and scale them according to stages of my life. In particular, I have been able to adapt my businesses around bringing up four children. I have a child (now a young adult) with a life-limiting genetic condition and running my own business with a great team means I have been able to flex work around her challenges over the years.

I’ve noticed that in the property sector women are in a minority, although we have worked with some great female property developers. In my spare time I chair a charity which challenges the gender imbalance in sailing, so I have no problem working and thriving in a male dominated environment! Home staging businesses are often run by women, so I do get some really interesting perspectives from attending varied networking groups.

Be brave. The best kept secret in business is that nobody else knows what they are doing either. Make a plan, tell everyone what you are going to do, look confident however you are feeling and go for it!

I enjoy understanding how to get the best from all my working relationships, as such I believe it is important to treat everyone as an individual. I love being challenged and hearing different opinions to my own, it’s the way we all learn and grow in our business lives.

I have been lucky enough to have a varied career, taking my sports coaching into business to begin with. I found myself running a property management company when I divorced my property developer husband. Learning to manage my own properties is what led me to create Lemon and Lime Interiors in 2015. Along the way I have developed several large residential homes, brought up four amazing children and I continue to battle for fairness of opportunity for women through my charity work.

Be brave. The best kept secret in business is that nobody else knows what they are doing either. Make a plan, tell everyone what you are going to do, look confident however you are feeling and go for it!


Lemon and Lime Interiors…

Lemon and Lime Interiors is a leading home staging business working in the property sector, covering everything from decluttering a lived-in home to fully furnishing an empty property. It specialises in the premium property market, working through estate agents such as Knight Frank, Savills and Fine and Country. Lemon and Lime helps vendors to achieve sales up to four times faster than comparable properties often selling at over asking price.

We proactively collaborate with other SMEs and we’re currently creating marketing collateral to not only support the estate agents we work with, but also create our own training and support to help guide other businesses looking to develop their own home staging solutions.


The business philosophy…

My business philosophy centres around collaboration. When it comes to Lemon and Lime Interiors, my team is at the heart of the business and I actively encourage their creative ideas and invite them to work with me to grow the business.

As we are working in an emerging sector – home staging – we don’t have a rigid growth plan, we’re developing our own blueprint for the sector and shaping how the business and the home staging industry looks.

This gives us a daily challenge, there is no model to follow. It also offers daily opportunity to create and to innovate which is exciting.


Not afraid to take risks…

I have had businesses before this one, I have an idea of what it means to grow a business and really drive an SME forward.

Thanks to this experience, I’m not afraid of taking risks and I don’t need to know the answer to how something will pan-out before I make the move – I feel this makes the business innovative and different to our more traditional counterparts.

I also think that my willingness and desire to listen to everyone in the business helps shape Lemon and Lime positively.  This lack of micro-management means that the business can grow organically even when I’m not in the office.


Biggest achievements…

1. Getting four children to adulthood and seeing them leave home and start to thrive in their own careers.

2. Creating a successful team and business from scratch in an industry sector that didn’t exist when I started out.

3. Writing my first book which is due to published in August – this is a great professional achievement for me, and I hope it helps to empower other business owners.


Major barriers in the last 12 months…

The biggest barrier we have been faced with has been how the political climate has affected the housing market. Brexit created so much uncertainty in our industry, especially with yet another general election, and despite this in the past 12 months, I have really developed and grown Lemon and Lime.

Brexit created so much uncertainty in our industry, especially with yet another general election, and despite this in the past 12 months, I have really developed and grown Lemon and Lime.

I’ve been full steam ahead despite this environment, working to look for creative ways we can expand and support our customers. This includes offering flexible solutions to vendors and estate agents, rather than being too rigid in what we can do to help them – for instance we’ve been able to create payment plans and tweak the duration of our packages or level of furnishing in-line with what the customer needs despite this political uncertainty.


Building strong relationships…

Building strong relationships with developers and agents is a central part of our work. I spend a lot of time visiting and talking to the estate agents we work with and those we want to work with. I know we can add value to what they offer as a service. The market has been really difficult over the last year and agents have found it hard to charge realistic fees. By educating them and providing data from our data bank we can help them understand how effective properly marketing a property with professional presentation can be. It is really important that we are not working alone but we are genuinely interested in helping agents develop their businesses and build their reputation for caring about their vendors. We know that working with us as a business helps them too.


Plans for the future…

I am excited about the growth prospects for the business. We are in an emerging market and so there are many organic growth opportunities ahead. I believe there are huge opportunities in the home staging market to develop technological solutions both to evidence the value of our service and to streamline what we are able to offer.


Susannah Griffin
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