Interview 21: Blog Series 'Have you Met?' interviews Marienne Pachonick

Updated: Mar 15

In this weekly blog series we aim to highlight fantastic creative people mainly from SE London who we either work with or admire.

This week its Marienne Pachonick founder of Marienne Pachonick Architects.

1. What led you to start up your business?

I was director and shareholder at a mid size architectural commercial practice in Chelsea for 13 years.

I worked on some very big projects but after the 2008 recession the landscape started changing and with it my appetite for large projects.

I started wondering if there might be another life to live and another type of architecture to do. And just like that, almost overnight, I decided to take voluntary redundancy and set up on my own. 

I expressed this wish at a Sunday lunch to 'work for myself on domestic projects' to friends and family and I can honestly say it was one of the scariest moments of my life.

I am risk adverse, have a vocational degree and career I love and I am most definitely not a business person or entrepreneur.

However, once I expressed this wish the universe starting paving the way for me. My previous company was hugely instrumental in helping set up my new business and built me a website, set up all my office hardware, software and technical requirements as part of the voluntary redundancy package that I took.

Work enquiries promptly appeared when I made my plans known. I couldn't have asked for a better start to this journey. 

2. What were the biggest obstacles to starting up?

At the time that I left commercial architecture I had a nine storey office block opposite St Paul's cathedral under my belt with all it's complexities on every level, in the comfort of a big internal and external professional team. Working in domestic extensions there is no team around you and there is nowhere to hide, no one to consult and the buck stops with you. As the client's trusted advisor you have to have detailed knowledge about a whole host of technical aspects and when I started up this overwhelmed me.

I understood pretty quickly the responsibility was enormous and there are so many moving parts. I had to deepen my knowledge on a vast array of technical aspects quickly, to be the expert that domestic clients need me to be.

3. What do you love about your business? I love the creative process of adding value to each and every home I work on. It doesn't matter the size or budget of the project my aim is to create a unique solution that work for a specific family's needs. I love that I can provide a good detailed service to ever single one of my clients and many clients have commented on the fact that I made the process easy for them. I love the collaborative aspects of working with homeowners and the moment of inspiration where we come up with a brilliant idea or solution together. It sometimes takes time to build on that relationship but I relish them and it gives me a real buzz. I love that I have become a positive role model to my daughter as she experiences my working life, but that I could also be present for her in her growing up years. 4. Who would be your dream client

Any homeowner in South East London who sees the benefit of investing in their future home project with a detailed, creative and connected approach that allows them to end up with the spaces that can be life enhancing and sometimes even life changing. 5. Where would you like to take your business ultimately?

I am sure my business might evolve in future as a result of my own personal growth or changes in the market or trends to extend but I have no grand plan for what that might look like. I believe in sustainable evolution, not revolution.

6. Where have you received the most support along your journey? A small core group of family and friends, networking colleagues, clients, clients who have become friends. I have always had a few champions for my business along the way for whom I am extremely grateful and hope I never take for granted. 7. Would you consider going back to employment for someone else now? For many years I believed the safety net was to step back into employment but I think the reality is that I have stepped through a one way portal and there may never be a chance to go back.

8. What do you consider the key skills a small business person must have? In no order of importance - Be organised, set in place systems and methods to get easy and admin work done quickly and consistently - Never procrastinate, get stuff done - Look after your finances, no one else will - Be consistent with producing the same standard and quality of work - Look after yourself, it is a marathon, not a race - Stay open to new information and learning - Learn from your mistakes, they can positively reinforce your business and build a better offer for the future - Stay connected and in tune with your client base and their needs - Creativity, like love, is not a finite resource, it does need nurturing and care - Resilience comes through experience. If you are going through the learning experience I found what Churchill said to be very true. 'If you are going through hell, keep going' 9. Have you been influenced by any business books or blogs recently?

I love books and am an avid book collector and reader, I smell them, I treasure them and I read them for relaxation and for creative inspiration.

10. What would your top tips be to anyone considering starting their own business? Sometimes it is a blind leap of faith that needs to take you over the edge but rest assured there is a lot of people out there in exactly the same boat. Find a tribe of people you can connect with and talk to and that can support you. Another excellent Churchill quote which I believe is the plank of any business. "Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts."   11. Do you think networking is important for your business? It is the only way that a small business like mine can thrive. I came to networking before starting my business but over the years have come to appreciate it's importance even more.  I prefer meaningful connections with people that can lead to meaningful referrals and for me it comes through building up relationships. I am not a speed networker and big get togethers fill me with trepidation.  Thank you for reading this blog post and for Shona's fantastic initiative to set it up. If you would like to find out more about my services please get in touch using the following information.

Thank you for taking part Marienne!

Find Marienne on here


Telephone +44 (0) 20 877 89319


Don't miss reading more in the 'Have you Met?' series

Interview 20 - Vanessa Afful

Interview 19 - Emete Friddle

Interview 18- Maddy Carrick

Interview 17 Anja David

Interview 16 -Bridget Daley

Interview 15 -Karen Arthur

Interview 14 -Rebecca Trowbridge

Interview 13 -Angélina Jandolo

Interview 12 -Kelly Harris

Interview 11 -Sara Dalrymple

Interview 10 -Ciarán O'Fathaigh

Interview 9 -Elizabeth Knights Trench

Interview 8 -Aba Edwards-Idun

Interview 7 -Roxsanne Slatford

Interview 6 -Lara Pearce

Interview 5 -Ashanti Jason

Interview 4- Shannon Reed

Interview 3 -Claire Connor

Interview 2 -Becca Teers

Interview 1 -Cat Bateman

Singing for my Supper

If you enjoyed reading this article and maybe others I've written, found a tip that worked for you or learned something new, it would be great if you'd consider sending me the price of a cup of coffee :)

About Us

Space at 61 is a venue for hire in Nunhead near Peckham. Often used for childrens parties, workshops, classes, talks, filming and popups you can hire us from £20per hour. The 'Have you Met?' Blog interview concept was created by by Shona Chambers owner of Space at 61 and Shona Chambers Marketing. To read more like this visit


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