If you’ve ever lusted after a uniquely shaped wine glass, lemon-adorned napkin or travertine candle holder on Instagram, chances are it was Alexandra Pappas’ No.22 that was behind the statement-making piece. Famed for its chic, elevated designs, No.22 has become known for providing a mix of homewares sourced from around the world — with the mission to prove that beautiful homewares don’t have to cost a fortune. As part of HER BLACK BOOK’s Festival of Her, a shopping event to support female-founded businesses, Pappas shares some insight into her business journey so far.

“In the beginning, No. 22 started off as a passion project as I was obsessed with homewares. I had my own consulting business, which I worked in full-time, and I would work on No. 22 at nights and on weekends. It was hard in the early days as I would package all the orders from home and used our small apartment to store products and packaging. I sacrificed my social life for a good 12-18 months to focus on No. 22 whilst working full-time. Eventually I was able to engage a 3PL company to store the products and pack all my orders and then slowly I started to reduce my hours in my consulting business to work on No. 22 more.

“In July 2021, I stopped consulting to work on No. 22 full-time. While it was scary leaving my more lucrative consulting career, the satisfaction I have gotten in the last six months while working on No. 22 has paid off for all the sacrifices I made in the early days.”

“Everything! I had no experience in running an e-commerce business, let alone building a brand. But I was obsessed with homewares and was always trying to make my home a sanctuary I didn’t want to leave. I thought if I felt like this, others would be the same and would buy products that evoke those feelings.”

“My favourite business book is The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz. I read this book when I worked for a VC firm and took away so many lessons that helped my career and resilience. I recently re-read it and found even more lessons that help me with No. 22.

“For podcasts, I love How I Built This by Guy Raz, Acquired by Ben Gilbert and David Rosenthal, and The a16z Podcast by Andreessen Horowitz.”