Vicky Tallon of Tallon Perry Interiors
AFTER an eclectic career, that includes stints at a yacht designer in Sloane Square, a pharmaceutical company in Guatemala and the Foreign Office in Spain, one Newbury woman has gone full circle and started a business that allows her to embrace her first love – art and design.
Vicky Tallon spent years working abroad for some of the largest companies in the world, ticking off things on her bucket list as she went.
But now she has settled down in Newbury, close to her family, and is enjoying every second of it.
The 48-year-old was born and grew up in Highgate, North London.
She is one of four children; three of whom now live in West Berkshire.
Following her love of the arts, Vicky went to art college to study a foundation arts course.
“I loved art,” she confides. “But they have tried to make art academic.
“Everything always has to have a deep story behind it, but I am not sure art always has to have a deep story;
sometimes it is just impulsive.”
But, in her own words, Vicky is ‘a girl of the Thatcher era’, meaning she was encouraged to go out and get a good career.
Unfortunately for her, art was not it.
So, she put down her art and ended up heading into the corporate world.
It would take her two decades to finally be able to pick it back up again.
Her first job was for a yacht designer in Sloane Square, but she couldn’t see any career path in it, so she began temping in a teaching hospital, The Royal Free.
She had worked her way up to outpatient manager for the mental health unit when her boss suggested she got a degree.
She agreed and headed to Birkbeck College, part of the University of London, to study business management.
After leaving the hospital, she worked for an animation company in Soho, SoftImage, and Phillips Media.
It was at the latter that she had her first taste of redundancy – gaining a first-class degree and losing her job in the same week.
She embraced the opportunity to do something new and headed off to Guatemala to satisfy her desire to travel.
While there she worked with Shell and then Zeneca, where an initial six-week contract turned into a two-year
“They got me doing stuff that was beyond what I had ever done before and I was speaking Spanish the whole time,” she explains.
“It built my confidence so much and I ended up doing the finance manager role, which was quite an amazing thing for a 26-year-old.”
Crunch-time came when Zeneca wanted to re-evaluate Vicky’s contract and put her on a local pay scale.
She headed back to England and a job with KPMG in London, starting her career as a management consultant.
Four years later, Vicky took
redundancy from KPMG and moved to Australia, ‘to tick another thing off my bucket list’.
But the lure of family and home was too much and a homesick Vicky returned to England again.
This time she joined Ernst and Young, spending more than three years doing finance outsourcing for the firm.
“I loved the role, the people and the international side of it,” she adds.
“At one point I had 96 countries reporting in to me.
“I loved speaking to the Latino countries in Spanish, something that my time in Guatemala had helped greatly.
“I sat in the tax division, but I wasn’t a qualified accountant or tax specialist, so I felt like there was a glass ceiling and I couldn’t break through it.
“Then in 2007 I was headhunted for a niche consultancy practice, but as soon as I joined their pipeline disappeared overnight as the financial crash happened.
“I ended up doing marketing and business development and that just wasn’t my forte, so the following year I decided to leave the country again.
“This time I was interviewed for a role with the Foreign Office, to be locally employed at the British Embassy in Spain.
“I moved over there as the corporate services manager and oversaw finance, procurement and estate management.”
Vicky then spent two years in Madrid looking after the embassy, diplomatic houses, consulates and even British graveyards around Spain.
But her mother was very unwell and she needed to return to the UK, so she took redundancy and headed home.
She moved straight to Newbury and cared for her mother until her death, taking a small role at a beer company in the interim.
Chatting to Vicky, it is obvious that she has enjoyed everything she’s done and given every job her all.
She admits that to document her entire career to date would require a much longer article than this one, but her ‘zig-zagged’ occupations have clearly given her a whole lot of life experience.
“It’s not the jobs themselves that are of interest, but more what they all gave me in terms of knowledge and experience,” she adds.
That experience, of staying calm through all sorts of challenges and obstacles and knowing just how far out of someone’s comfort zone to push them, has proved invaluable to her newest venture – Tallon Perry Interiors.
It was her sister who persuaded her, shortly after their mother died, to follow her dream and so she headed back into London and began studying interior architecture and design at the Chelsea School of Art.
By October 2016 she felt confident enough to ‘throw all my eggs into one basket’ and her interior design company, Tallon Perry Interiors, was born.
She is quite clear that being an interior designer is not just about cushions and curtains and says you certainly don’t need to be rich to make the most of her services.
Vicky’s creative skills, combined with her love of space, light and colour, ensure she can offer her clients a full service, with functional designs and realistic budgets and timescales.
“Running your own business is not for the faint-hearted, though,” she laughs.
“I didn’t realise how protected I had been in the corporate world.
“You have to do everything and sometimes it is really overwhelming.”
She was quick to learn and her business is now thriving.
She is currently building up her network of local suppliers and she has found networking invaluable, but does fear that it has become a business in itself recently.
“There are a lot of people starting out who just want someone to talk to,” she adds.
“Everyone needs a sounding board.
“There are a lot of things you can do yourself, but you just need someone there saying ‘you can do it’.
“There is so much great entrepreneurial stuff going on in Newbury now; it’s a great place to be working.”
For more details visit her website here.