Amalia Booker, Amanti - My First Job
PUBLISHED: 20:25 24 September 2012 | UPDATED: 21:57 20 February 2013
Amalia Booker, who runs Amanti, a gift and homeware store in Beverley, talks about her varied career
What was your first job?
My first proper job after I graduated was as an administrator for a housing association. I organised the office, provided reception services and offered secretarial support. It was hectic and completely different to any of the other part-time jobs Id done through my school and university years.
What lessons did it teach you?
In the real world of work, academic qualifications mean very little. Everything I was asked to do was way out of my comfort zone so I learnt to pay attention, ask questions and volunteer for everything so that I would pick things up more quickly.
Perhaps the most important thing I learnt was how to really listen to what customers were telling me. Understanding what your customers want and need is the key to any successful business and Ive applied the same skills in every career move Ive made since.
How has your career progressed?
I stayed with the housing association for six years, ending up in a managerial role. I was then appointed director of a new organisation called the Housing Diversity Network (HDN). We had no staff and no money. But we did have plenty of challenges and ambition. It was an amazing opportunity for me and the learning curve was very steep but everything came together. HDN now works across the UK and is about to celebrate its 10th anniversary.
I left to set up Amanti, the business I now run with my husband. We sell furniture, home accessories and gifts from our showroom in Beverley, East Yorkshire and online.
I love the excitement and creativity of starting new things and wanted to see what it would feel like to do it for myself as an owner, rather than as an employee. The economic climate has been hugely challenging over the last few years but we have continued to grow, which has been very satisfying.
Alongside Amanti, I spent two years as director of the School for Social Entrepreneurs in the Yorkshire & Humber region. This is an amazing organisation that supports people to set up social enterprises businesses that are about social returns, not just profits. It was a privilege to be able to share everything I haved learnt about running a business over the years with people of all ages who are passionate about their own vision.
What do you enjoy most about your job now?
At the risk of sounding ego-centric, I love being in charge. Its great being in control of your own destiny. On a more pragmatic level, I enjoy the day to day interaction with customers and feeling like part of the community. Theres a huge amount of satisfaction in giving great service.
Buying is probably the most fun aspect of the job choosing great products that Id like to own myself.
Whats next for you?
Who knows? In the short term, well continue to develop Amanti, focusing on growing our online business. Other than that, Im open to all opportunities that may come my way. My priority is to challenge myself and stay excited about my working life.
What advice would you give?
Dont put yourself in a box and think that you can only do one thing. Recognise your skills and explore all the different ways you could apply them until you find the thing you really love.