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Jackie Lee
by Amy Duff

Jackie Lee spotted a gap in the market for dolls' house kits and hasn't looked back. She says future-proofing your business is vital to ensure your systems expand as your company does

The Dolls House Emporium celebrates its 30th birthday this year. Founder Jackie Lee says she didn't start a business that sells dolls' houses and miniatures to enthusiasts all over the world out of love—she saw a gap in the market and used a £6,000 inheritance to get the company off the ground.

"It's every dad's dream to build a dolls' house for their daughter and they think they ought to be able to do it," she recalls. "But to do it well, the amount of time involved is excessive. So we had the idea to make it more accessible by making dolls' house kits."

It's now a £5m turnover business with 70 employees and remains independently owned. Because everything except the manufacturing is in-house, from Web development and fulfilment to photography, Lee says the business can be nimble and flexible. "I haven't got to have umpteen meetings with umpteen outside people and wait for things to happen," she says.

If she's learned one thing, it's to continuously improve her business and organise it so that it is set up to be future-proof. "I was born organised," she says. "We've had our computer system for 15 years and it has expanded and developed with us so that now it's very sophisticated. We keep ahead of technology and make the best use of it."