Laufen Sonar bath. Basins and vanities (L-R): Laufen Pro Cloakroom, Laufen Ino and Roca

passionate Y

ou don’t have to talk to Justine Bullock for very long to discover she is about


And her enthusiasm for and knowledge of the subject is backed up by a hands-on, on-site practicality. The Tap End may only have started out in 2017, but the fact that they were a finalist in the kbbreview Retail & Design Awards, in 2018 and 2019, is a testament not only to that enthusiasm, but also their design talent.

So what did being a finalist two years running in the kbbreview Retail & Design Awards mean to The Tap End? Bullock says: “We always knew we wanted to enter the kbbreview awards and it will be a great day for us when we win. We like your awards because – in the design categories – you have to present to the judges and that seems fairer.” The Tap End has, however, won an award from its local Chamber of Commerce for start-up of the year. With this issue turning the spotlight on influential women in the industry, it was a no-brainer to dedicate a retailer profile to The Tap End. The team there is all-female, although Bullock will tell you it was not planned that way. It was started by her and her friend Lynda Rees and has now grown into a team of five.

So how has Bullock found the

industry reacts to an all-female team? “We are an all-female team and sometimes old-school builders do not respect that. I’ve been in the showroom with my husband and had old-school agents’ reps come in, walk straight past me and start talking to him. “We are not aggressively feminist,

March 2021 ·

Co-proprietors Justine Bullock (left) and

Lynda Rees

who like what we offer. It’s about the experience, not just the end result. “Yet many male clients come in and say they have been to other places and dealt with ‘sales’ people, and when they come to us, it is not a hard sell. People have the perception that we’re a bit ‘softer’ and won’t rip them off. They think ‘this women’s not going to be a cowboy builder’. They have a little more trust in us.”

We’re not aggressively feminist. We want to change people’s perception of the industry and a female’s opinions to be recognised as equal to a male’s

but we do want to change people’s perception of the industry. We want a female’s opinions to be recognised as equal to a male’s. And it is sometimes a struggle. We come up against old-school attitudes, but we are passionate about what we do and we can hold our own.”


“Sometimes we have to go out to site and show someone we know what we are doing, rather than just speaking on the phone to a fitter who has already made their mind up that because we are women, you can’t put the cistern where we say. There are five of us in the company and four of us have renovated our own homes and been really hands-on. So we have the

practical experience, rather than just being computer-based designers. When we go to site, we are not tottering around in our high heels.” It is often said that women are the

main decision-makers when it comes to kitchen and bathroom projects. So has she found that being an all-female business is an advantage? “Definitely,” she confirms. “We have a massive client base of single and divorced women or widows. Their husbands used to deal with things like the bathroom and now they don’t know where to go, or who to trust. They will come in for a chat and we build really nice relationships. We like being somewhere that has no massive agenda. We don’t want to be offering discounts. We like to deal with people

But despite having twice been a finalist in the kbbreview Retail & Design Awards, The Tap End is still a young business. It was started in 2017 by Bullock and her friend Lynda Rees. Bullock did a degree in fashion design at the same time as doing part- time work as a hotel receptionist. Within three months, she was pro - moted to supervisor at the hotel and put on the management track. “By the time I finished my degree,” Bullock explains, “I was 23 and already had three or four years’ management training in customer service, which meant when I left university I went straight to work for an interior design company at management level rather than as a junior.

“I had no interior design experience,” she admits. “However, my degree was in fashion design, which does transfer into interior design. That business also had a bathroom side and from day one I was really passionate about the bathroom side of things. I liked the technical aspects of it and the way that clients would put their bathroom designer.”

trust in the So how did the partnership with

Lynda come about? “Lynda was a client of that interior design company. She renovated her own home. That company then

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