Introducing Purpose Union and the brains behind the business – Barry Johnston, Daniela Flores, and Lewis Iwu. These three are witty, thoughtful, and determined – it’s clear that they balance each other out every step of the way.
Usually based in our Spitalfields location, we caught up with them at Second Home Hollywood while they were on a trip visiting clients. Read more to find out their expert tips on starting a business, their philosophy behind a purpose driven work environment, and some anecdotes that let their personalities shine.
What are your names & positions, what is your business and how long have you been at Second Home?
We’re Barry Johnston, Daniela Flores, and Lewis Iwu – all founding partners of Purpose Union, a social purpose strategy firm. We have been based at Second Home since April 2021.
Share a little bio on your business.
Purpose Union is a specialist social purpose firm comprised of strategists united by the belief that the world is better off when companies and organizations think, act and communicate with a defined social purpose. Our purpose is to combine our knowledge, experience and connections in the private, public and social sectors to help organizations drive social change and achieve their strategic objectives at the same time. We work with our clients to develop compelling narratives, identify winning arguments, build valuable coalitions and create distinctive campaigns. Our team comprises a new and diverse generation of strategists, which enables us to offer world class advice to our clients in a digitally native and increasingly millennial-driven world.
Why did you choose Second Home?
Second Home Spitalfields is in an ideal location; many of the team are based around East London so it’s easy to get to and the office has great East London vibes, as well as lots of good restaurants and pubs nearby. We were offered a good small private office to start with, and as we grew we were able to move to a larger space. Also the team on reception are really friendly and helpful, and there is a great cafe downstairs and a rooftop with views over London for after work drinks!
What is your favorite part of Second Home?
Cool office space with fun vibes and a good sense of community.
How has Second Home helped your business? How has your business changed/grown since being here?
Since being based at Second Home, our business has grown significantly and our team has tripled in size. Second Home has provided us with a creative and professional space to grow and work alongside like-minded companies. Also, clients like coming to our offices for meetings as they love all the open spaces and plants!
What is the biggest learning in starting a business?
Barry: Focus on the things you’re good at then hire and trust people to do the things you aren’t.
Daniela: Work with people you like (co-founders, colleagues, clients, suppliers) – it makes the journey much more enjoyable.
Lewis: Always aim for the highest standards of client service and don’t accept anything less.
What is the hardest lesson you’ve learned in business?
Barry: No matter how much time you set aside for admin, it won’t be enough.
One piece of advice for someone looking to start a business?
Barry: Once a year, sit down with your business partners (or take yourself for a walk if you were crazy enough to do it solo) and check that you are still doing what you set up the business to do. If not, change some things.
Daniela: Make sure you have a good back office set up; pay for a really good accountant, HR consultant etc to make sure everything runs smoothly behind the scenes so you can focus on growing and running the business.
A business / brand / enterprise that you admire/aspire/inspire from?
Barry: Big fan of anything with a B-Corp sticker on it. We’re anxiously awaiting ours.
Daniela: There are some impressive purpose-driven companies out there like Unilever and Patagonia, but also some smaller brands doing amazing work like Tony’s Chocolonely and Ella’s Kitchen.
Lewis: Nike – it has a great story, is understanding how to deploy its athletes for social good and is overall a very cool brand.
What is the biggest challenge you face at this moment in your business?
Barry: Finding the right people to join as we grow, and continuing to support and develop our existing team.
Lewis: Ensuring a creative culture in a hybrid world.
What are the key qualities you look for in an employee?
Barry: Good sense of humor, calmness under pressure, attention to detail.
Daniela: Passion for social purpose, creativity and a sense of fun.
Lewis: Curiosity, communication skills and the ability to extract insights and inspiration from lots of different places.
Enough about work, let’s get to know you a bit more!
How long have you lived in London?
Barry: I moved over from Dublin in 2011.
Daniela: I grew up just outside London and spent 10 years abroad, but have been living here most recently since 2014.
Lewis: I’ve always been a proud Londoner (save for 4 years at University).
Any advice for visiting London (bars, restaurants, places to go out, museums)?
Barry: Hit me up, I love sending people to places they will enjoy. Or else hot-dinners.com is the best go-to for where to go…
Daniela: Soho is a classic for good bars and restaurants, but it’s fun to explore other areas like Borough Market, Coals Drop Yard in Kings Cross and, of course, Spitalfields in East London. So many good museums too – I would highly recommend the Science Museum, Natural History Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum which are all really close to each other in South Kensington.
Lewis: You can’t go wrong with East London – Hackney, Dalston, Stratford.
What brought you to Los Angeles?
We’re in the US to see clients, meet potential partners and collaborators and explore new business opportunities.
Best music for concentration?
Barry: Classical/ instrumental – I get distracted by lyrics.
Daniela: Ibiza chill out tunes.
Lewis: 80’S soul and 90s R&B.
What are your hobbies?
Barry: Cooking. Eating.
Daniela: Traveling abroad to go diving / kitesurfing / snowboarding. When in London – going to the theater, exploring new places to eat and drink and spending time with my husband, daughter and dog.
Lewis: Avoiding cooking, cycling, dissecting films, reading and watching sport.
What is the funniest thing you’ve ever done (or an embarrassing moment!)?
Daniela: I awkwardly introduced myself to Idris Elba when he was DJing at Davos.
Lewis – Once asked the Attorney General of the UK who she was and what she did at a drinks reception.
Barry: No absolute favorite but The Consolations of Philosophy, In Praise of Idleness and The Third Policeman all had an impact at the point where I read them. Currently reading Beloved while in the US and feel that’s going to be added to the list.
Daniela: How to Fail by Elizabeth Day – it has so many life lessons. I am currently reading The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read which is also fascinating.
Lewis: Ron Chernow, Washington.
Show that you’re watching right now or your favorite show?
Barry: Bad Sisters on Apple TV.
Daniela: How to Change your Mind on Netflix.
Lewis: House of the Dragon.
Three items you’d take to a desert island.
Barry: Inflatable dinghy. Satellite phone. Machine for turning seawater into drinking water.
Daniela: Endless supply of wine, bread and cheese.
Lewis: DJ decks.