Small business grant winner: Interview with Studio Flox

Kal Watrobski of upholstery business Studio Flox will use her grant money on accountancy and social media assistance

Kal Watrobski, founder of Studio Flox in Brentford, London, is the first of our grant winners, having signed up for one of our Small Business memberships.

At, our monthly memberships (Business Essentials and Pro) give you all the tools you need to start, run and grow your business.

We know how tough it is running a business on your own, and how much time can be wasted bogged down in admin and red tape. With our all-in-one membership, you can get everything you need in one place, plus community and expert support to turn to when you need it.

What’s more, all members are automatically entered into our monthly grant competition, giving you the chance to win £2,500.

Here, we talk more to our very first winner Kal to find out what she plans to do with the grant.

Her furniture repair, upcycling and upholstery business counts designers and hotels among its clientele and on Wednesday evenings hosts classes for people who want to revamp some of their own furniture. Watrobski initially established Studio Flox in 2020 in Dalston, north London, before moving to her current Brentford studio on an ait on the Thames in October 2023.

How did Studio Flox start and what is your personal background?

“I grew up in South Africa and when I look back, I’ve always loved chairs. I’ve always collected them and thought, I could cover that. My parents had a restaurant and every three months we’d cover 190 dining chairs, which that was easy with a hand-held staple gun. I’ve always refurbed or revamped things. I studied fashion and have always made things – I started sewing when I was six.”

What challenges have you faced so far as a small business?

“Staff was a problem – I’m too small to warrant payroll – I can’t pay myself properly sometimes. Clients also want things cheap so on any given month I might use between five to eight different artisans at any one time – French polishers, framers, carpenters and sprayers. Every now and again depending on what job I get I get them in. But the client has to pay you properly.”

Tell us about the classes…

“We call them leisure classes. They are bringing something in and we help them. It’s like a book club. They bring it in and I teach them. We have a laugh and a cup of tea and everyone potters around at their own pace. It’s good fun.”

How did it feel winning the grant and what do you plan on using it for?

“So exciting. I was really excited when I got the email I thought it was a hoax. I’m getting emotional because it was amazing.

“When I’ve spent a 12-hour day making things, it’s difficult to face three hours after on business admin. So I’ve hired an accountancy contact who will help with that and some of the money will go towards her to double check everything and make sure I’m doing the right thing. That’s a number one major thing.

“And then my Instagram – I just don’t have the time to keep it up so I’ll pay someone for that. I’ve collated thousands of photographs that I have taken but I don’t have time to use. Because I’m always busy – that’s not the problem – but I’d much rather be spending time on a sofa. I get home late at night and I know I should do it [the admin] but this just gives a little bit of respite.”

Applying for a small business grant – everything you need to know We’ll take you through what type of small business grant you should apply for, how to prepare and how to increase your chance of success

The circular economy is a big thing now. Is sustainability something you’ve always been conscious of?

“It’s serendipitous because I’ve never wanted to throw things away. My granny taught me how to embroid and I used to wear all her clothes – she used to hand-make them – and she used to never throw anything away. It’s like when your dog likes to sleep on your coat – it brings you closer [to that person] so I’ve always loved it. So now that it is such a movement, it’s just serendipitous because it has always been important to me.”

Why did you sign up to Business Essentials?

“I did use the virtual GP… I did sign up specifically for that. I also signed up for insurance as I need to look at it for here but there’s lots I’m going to use it for and I intend to use it.”

If you could build your own dream membership – what would that look like?

“A community network. In fact, I’m in the process of starting a traders’ association. It’s very important to me.”

What advice would you give to small business owners?

“Necessity is the mother of invention. You can either sit back and wait for someone else to do it, or you can do it. Some people don’t have a choice. Also, join something. Get that back up so you’re not alone.”

Looking for support with your small business and want to be in with a chance of winning £2,500? Find out more about joining our monthly membership today.

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Dom Walbanke

Jaeden Harber

Dom Walbanke is a feature writer for Growth Business and Small Business, focused on matters concerning start-ups and scale-ups. He has also been published in the Independent, FourFourTwo magazine and various...

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