Last March, Reece Horide was facing the hardest 12 weeks of his life. The first national lockdown had begun, leaving the 33‐year‐old furloughed from his job as a sales rep; a career for which he had worked tirelessly for nearly a decade.
He had also discovered that his young son Harley would have to shield with his mother for three months due to his severe asthma. With Reece having split up from Harley’s mother several years previously, this meant that he would not be able to see his son for 12 long weeks.
But the dad from Brandon refused to sink under the weight of those dark days, and poured his love for his son, now eight, into a successful new business venture. Reece now runs Harleys Home and Leisure, with services including an online second‐hand shop, house clearance, removals, collections, and deliveries. And, having impressed Havebury with his recycling policies and cost‐saving incentives, he is now working alongside our supported housing team on a number of projects.
Where did the idea come from?
Reece explained how it all came about. He said: “The moment I found out I couldn’t see Harley for 12 weeks will always live with me. I remember welling up, and it took a moment to sink in. I used to have him every other weekend and we’d have adventures like going to
the zoo or just playing board games together at home. We would Facetime while he was shielding but it often made him more upset that we couldn’t see each other. “It was also really hard for me having so much free time. As a sales rep I had had a very hectic job, I’d often work 10 to 12 hour days and never took all my annual leave because I was so busy. So I was struggling both with having nothing to do and missing my son.”
He added: “I started thinking about what I could do to pass the time, and decided I would make a website in Harley’s name. I’d never done anything like that in my life and it took about eight weeks; a website designer could have probably done it in five days! But it was
just a way to think about my boy and give myself something to do.”
What came next?
Reece took the decision to create an online shop selling second‐hand items, having always enjoyed going to car boot sales and charity shops. He also created Facebook and Instagram pages for his fledgling business.
“I was looking at the things that people were giving away for free; I don’t want things to be dumped,” he said. “At first it was just little items in my Mini Cooper. I’d take them, repair them or upcycle them, and then sell them on. I spent a couple of months doing that and then, one day, I woke up to around 80 messages and 3,000 visits to my website. I genuinely don’t know how it happened.”
Many of the messages Reece received were helpful suggestions about how he could improve his website or ideas for further services he could offer. “It was a lightbulb moment.” “I thought, ‘there’s something here’. That’s when it became more of a proper business idea.
“People started asking me if I would do house clearances, so I researched it and realised I could do it differently. Instead of just hiring a skip and taking everything away, I decided to charge a lower fee to the customer to start with, and look at what I could sell on from the
clearance, or give to charity shops. So I would take the hit upfront, but then earn from what I sold. It’s a more complex business model but I think it’s more of an ethical way to do it.”
Taking the plunge
When he was made redundant from his full‐time job in October, Reece bit the bullet and became fully self‐employed. He invested in a Luton van for his new venture and has made sure he is covered by the appropriate licenses and insurances. And he continues to adapt his services depending on customer demand.
“I’m still doing a 10 to 12 hour day but there’s flexibility in it,” said Reece, whose partner Holly also helps with the business. “I am learning on the job – how to manage my costs, how to advertise, how to respond to quotes. I’m now having some amazing conversations with big companies. If you’d told me I’d be doing this last year I’d never have believed you.”
And, of course, the driving motivation behind all of Reece’s professional endeavours will always be his son Harley. He said: “We saw each other again for the first time in June and were both in floods of tears. I hadn’t told him anything about what I’d been doing and just turned up in a van with his name on the side. He started giggling when he saw his name, saying ‘What’s that, Daddy?’ He was thrilled. “I’d love it if he came and joined me in the business one day. I’m doing it all for him.”
This article will feature in the Spring 2021 edition of Havebury News. Want to get Havebury News in your inbox? Click here to sign up to The Place.