Quarantine Creatives: James Sahota

James Sahota

Sitting down for a conversation with James Sahota allowed me to understand the true meaning of hard graft. From educating himself on the property market to ensuring he gets the most out of his lifestyle, James is not one to shy away from hard work. This Property Investor oozes entrepreneurial spirit whose attitude is reflected across his different content platforms and became more apparent as we spoke. Locked and loaded with his headphones and mic, I got the full VIP podcast set up that I have seen on his content videos.

Raised as a second generation Indian in the UK, James is a through and through Londoner. Completing A-levels in Design and Business, he gave himself the platform to go and study at University. Being averse to living at home during his educational years, James decide to further study up North, in Manchester. Admittedly he ended up getting up to “all sort of mischief” and frankly trouble. Fights caused by James led to arrest and being faced with a judge in court. Thankfully for him the case was thrown out and so marked a turning point in his life. Graduating with an undergraduate degree in Product Design, James went on to remain in the city to pursue a Masters Degree in Industrial Design in 2003.

Showcasing a talent in design proceeded a teaching opportunity for James upon his return to London. Although it was simply an avenue to earn a wage, James made his debut onto the property ladder because of this and began paying his first mortgage (as encouraged by his Mother).

“It was almost like entertainment; I was on the stage and the kids were my audience”

As a qualified teacher, it didn’t take James long to realise that teaching wasn’t his calling and after a couple of years walked out. Yes, “walked out”. After an annoyance with another staff member, James simply got up and left, accompanied with the applause of his students.

With 24 days until his next mortgage payment was due, James delivered the confidence that he would be able to resolve his circumstance in time. In came the saviour that was E-Bay. James took to selling small prints online which then became the catalyst for him to start his business in print. This satisfied his need to work for himself, which wasn’t an easy-going journey. Within the first 5 years of his print business, he took to supply teaching on the side in order to allow him to continue developing his own company.

After 10 years in print, and admitting that it had “somewhat failed”, this was an end of a chapter in James’ life, which was the gateway to his development in the property world. It was at this point that I realised James was not shy of making mistakes and used his experiences for lessons in the future. Educating himself in property, flipping houses, and educating himself constantly has led to his successes and developments today.

“You should only have a plan A”

James gave me an insight into his work ethic, which was rooted in streamline planning. Utilising Trello and joint calendars, James is now very strict with his time allocation – something he learnt from working in print. At this point I was sitting cross legged out of sight from the camera, and felt the same satisfaction you do when indulging in organisational content online.

“Try not to have more than three or four things on your to-do list”

Having solidified his experiences in property, James creates educational content also. Advertising a ticket for a property conference is what allowed James to meet Tej, his Partner in crime for The Property Duo Podcast. Tej is also a property developer and has developed a strong working relationship with James. The Property Duo, as well as James’ own podcast, The J2 Hub podcast is a platform, for all things property, led by James and his featured guests.

Personally, I do not gravitate towards jargon laced podcasts, which is why the love is there for the J2 Hub Podcast. It is not only a place where James shares the dos and don’ts of property, but you can hear the stories and journeys of his panel. The relatability of the podcast is something that has been cemented for me after my chat with him.

Quarantine Creatives: Dilly Carter

Dilly Carter

As a Queen in the organising game, Dilly Carter has already been labelled as “London’s Marie Kondo”. With global organisational dominance on the cards for Dilly, this visionary takes full assessment of a personal space and makes it work for you. My conversation with Dilly revealed her passion for helping people and making their life a little bit easier.

Dilly’s personal journey began when she was adopted at the age of three, from Sri Lanka, and began her life in the UK. She revealed she always had an intrinsic eye for space and organising. From a young age, “even in the orphanage” Dilly always helped with the tidying. As she told me more of her story, it became apparent that organisation was wired within her.

 Growing up, Dilly cemented the empathetic side of decluttering as she was helping her own Mother, who suffers with mental health issues. Tidying wasn’t just about “immaculate kitchen cupboards” it was about providing a space with functionality and making it work for different people.

“I used to hang around supermarkets waiting for my Mum to pick me up and I would help with people’s shopping, it’s always been around me somehow”

Whilst at school, Dilly was helping her neighbours and organising local homes as well as her own house. She didn’t always know she could make a career out of her skills and went on to become a personal assistant for sales directors and large companies following school. She continued to refine her knowledge by her experience in a small fashion boutique where she “learnt to fold and organise clothes”.

Working in various office jobs to then becoming a Personal Assistant for private families, Dilly applied her intrinsic skill set to some of her live-in situations. By simply suggesting ways for families to improve their home organisation, Dilly fuelled this organisation with function and still carries this ethos to her business today.

 “I really like organising, I really like tidying up”

Following a trip with a friend, Dilly decided that she wanted to use her skills to help other people and set up as a business. The brainstorming began! The brand name, Declutter Dollies, was conceived in 2018 on a plane journey and now has a growing client base and social media following (her dollies!). Still very much in the infancy of the business, Dilly began with local homes and using leaflets as a way to spread word about her services. As her platform grew, Dilly delved into the Instagram world and began explaining what she does.

Dilly’s social media presence is one that differs from other organisers, and is a big reason why I followed her initially. Her stories reveal a very open side to her, including insight into her family life and how she organises her own home. During Lockdown, Dilly cannot enter people’s homes, so has navigated her online presence as a way to continue helping people. From her virtual cleanses to daily Instagram live videos, it is recognisable that even with the current circumstances she is committed to her business. With Declutter Dollies still in the early stages, I know Dilly has this in the bag (a very organised one at that!)

“These are good times to be in our homes, to focus on our homes, to look at what we’ve got, assess what we’ve got and think how we can improve on certain areas…we’re never gonna get this time again”

Dilly can now help you even more with her new book, Create Space, and catch her on BBC One’s new show Sort Your Life Out where she is one quarter of a dynamic team.

Quarantine Creatives: Callum Smith

Callum Smith

Always having a foot in the door with hospitality, Callum Smith is no stranger to how a good manager operates. From starting work in his early teens, Callum has an engrained work ethic which has transferred through to his whole working journey and into his own catering business. Early work in pubs in the north sparked Callum’s dream to one day owning and running his own pub or business.

From his cosy abode in Tooting, Callum’s northern charm was not a miss throughout our conversation. Born in York and raised in Leeds, Callum was educated in local schools and went to study Health, Exercise and Nutritional Biochemistry at Leeds University. With healthcare and sport tunnelling through his education choices, his modules on nutrition sparked his desire to be involved in food and even had thoughts of becoming a dietician.

Being 1 of 6 growing up, Callum admitted he was quite a shy and not the “greatest waiter” in the world whilst working at his first pub job at The Whitehouse in Leeds. Following more and more exposure to different types of people and a chef who “looked after me”, Callum’s confidence continued to grow.

 “I was scared of the chefs!”

Indeed, Callum flipped his situation around and became an exemplary staff member, to the point where he recognised things weren’t quite right. As a young teen, Callum was only paid £3.48 an hour and was pretty much running the floor. He had his first taste of training other people and realised other staff members were being paid more than he was for doing less.  He decided to take it up with his managers and “made it so everyone was being paid the same”.

Following graduation at Leeds, Callum continued to keep his foot in the door within hospitality and fell in love with the industry. He became a supervisor of a restaurant in Towton and continued to move up the ranks as manger at The Beehive and then The Rockingham Arms. Gathering the skills and learning the ins and outs of hospitality by the age of 23 put Callum in good stead to eventually run his own business.

“I learnt from horrible managers how I don’t want to treat people”

After the umbrella company of the Beehive closed down, Callum was faced with an opportunity to work within that same pub, however, was bought by his partner’s family. Together (with his partner being a chef) they helped get the business off the ground and successful again and restored it with a new plan. From here Callum and his partner went travelling to the other side of the globe in New Zealand and Australia where he worked overseas within hospitality from September 2014- July 2015 when he returned to the UK.

During his time in New Zealand the conception of his brand, Fantail Catering and Management was inspired by the wildlife he’d encountered out there. On his return he went for a site operations job with Fortnum and Masons where he began his establishment as Fantail. Although it was one of the toughest jobs, he successfully ran one of the busiest lodges in Sommerset House in London. After his move to South London, Callum was inundated with jobs and has managed and catered for the Brits, Glastonbury and Wimbledon (just to name a few).

With sourcing his staff, Callum believes in his team getting full wages and being paid fairly for their time, which is why he doesn’t use agencies. Instead Callum looks out for staff when he visits his favourite coffee and food spots around London. Recognition of Callum’s success was what opened up a position or him at Levy UK, one of the biggest culinary champions in the UK.

With the current climate with Covid -19 it is no secret that extreme measures have been taken, including the Excel centre in London being turned into a hospital for over 4000 patients. Callum is on the team who now helps run site operation here and ensuring that NHS staff as well as patients are getting their food. With services like Callum’s being vital to not just weddings and monumental events, but to the running of operations with healthcare, it goes to show that with hard work and skill development you can be a part of something big.

“I’m experiencing things at a level that I never thought I would”