Tuesday 19 November 2013

2Inspire Profile Interview: Rachel Holland

In this profile interview we meet the amazing Rachel Holland, a highly successful fashion stylist, consultant and art director who has worked with designers and publications from across the world. 
Rachel Holland
Please tell us what is a typical business day for you?
It depends on what sort of project that I've got on, but if it's a non-photoshoot day then I usually start the day with plenty of tea and checking through my emails, then replying to any of the urgent ones. I then go through my calender and look through my days to-do list, what's scheduled in and if I have meetings, appointments or events that I need to go to.
On a photoshoot day, the day usually involves me being picked up early in the morning with all of my rails, samples and styling kit and am taken to the set, where I meet the team and setup with my assistant.
So, if it's a non photoshoot day then I work through my list of requirements such as, having informal meetings via phone or skype with my creative team, designing moodboards for styling and art direction visuals, sourcing specific clothing items or pouring through various lookbooks or coming up with ideas for future work. Then there's the admin side of things, the finances and invoicing, the usual sort of business work that everyone has to do! Then I may go to a few press agencies to pull some pieces for an upcoming shoot, it really depends on what projects I have on and what's been asked of me in the brief. I always try to make sure that at the very least I go for a walk or try to get to the gym on days like these and I also keep up to date with what's happening in the world of art, news, politics, science and fashion.

What made you start the business and how did you get started?
It really started by accident, though I've worked for myself in some capacity since I graduated from university. My business started when I was made redundant from a job that I really loved, so I decided to venture out on my own, as I really enjoy to be creatively free with my own work. I started off not really knowing what I was doing and then as time went on my role as a 'prop designer', 'set stylist', 'designer', 'consultant' and 'writer' and all of the other things that I was doing narrowed down to 'stylist' as this was what was the most in demand skill from me and also what I was being hired to do. Gradually the other work faded away, though it still comes in handy now as I still draw on the these other skills when needed.

Once I got into the swing of things as a regular stylist, I set myself up as a business and  I've worked onwards from there. I like the idea of going back into my previous skills now that I'm more established to really evolve my work deeper as a creative and also to develop some new projects.

What would you say has been your greatest accomplishment in the business world to date?
It's hard to pinpoint what is my greatest accomplishment when I view all of my achievements as good in their own way. I feel that my greatest moment has been producing work that I'm really proud of personally, rather than following the crowd of what's on trend or popular right now. Everytime that I achieve something that I know is completely original, then I feel fulfilled. For me that's more important than anything else.
What has been your biggest challenge in business so far?
This has been without a doubt getting myself established and being taken seriously as a creative within the industry. Fashion is a notoriously difficult industry to get involved in and the boundaries and rules of normal business change within it. Lots of people give up because it's so hard to infiltrate, but I've weathered the storm and been very determined and ultimately I've tried to work progressively towards my goals, making my work speak for itself rather than trying to gain instant recognition from my peers.

What are your future plans for the business?
At the moment I'm looking at that intensely...asking myself what is the next step and where do I want to be in a few years time. I still haven't 100% answered that for myself so I couldn't commit to an answer right now. All I know is that it will be developing my work further in the areas that interest me and being less of a people pleaser. Plus I'm toying with the idea writing a book amongst other things!

If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?
I would go and get more industry experience before officially starting my work by shadowing other people in the industry and gaining confidence that way. I entered the industry blind with only my creative skills in place. I had no idea how things worked and I underestimated the difficulty of establishing myself, I had to figure it all out on the job, as I went along. It was intense!

Why is it so important to inspire young women in particular to follow their dreams?
Because women have a history of being pushed back or for being scared to ask for more, at least in my experience it happened many times to me when I was in employment. That's behind a lot of the reasons that I started wanting to work for myself, because even though you can work with lovely, modern people, ideas of sexism are still rife. In my employment history I would often land very good jobs with lots of responsibilty, managing teams of people in a mostly male enviroment and yet I'd still be expected to do the washing up, empty the recycling bins and make everyone tea as part of my job. That sort of treatment led me away from wanting to work for another business as it continued to happen over and over again even when I was promoted! That and being spoken over in meetings or not getting sufficient credit for my work, it became tiring.
I believe that the future lies in women being able to start profitable businesses from the kitchen table, with almost nothing and leading the way for a new generation of girls to create their own pathway and dream job rather than looking for approval elsewhere. Businesses created on our own terms that have a positive impact on each other and society, I wish that I had started working full-time for myself much sooner!

What advice would you give to somebody who wants to start a business in your industry?
Realise that you're not going to get where you want to be overnight and you will have to work harder than you've ever worked for the first few years to become established. Get some experience shadowing someone who's career you aspire to and learn everything that you possibly can from them. Also, build up your own visual language, define what makes you excited creatively and start working towards creating your own visual identity. Then take baby steps towards your goals, allowing room to make mistakes and experiment. Also realise that the fashion industry is a very small world, so be mindful of your actions, don't step on another person to get where you want to be quickly, take your time and created a trusted name for yourself. In the long run you'll be glad that you did this. Also, trust yourself, your gut instinct will tell you the right path for you.

What or who inspires you in business and why?
The people who inspire me in business are the people doing things differently, on their own terms, with kindness, integrity and who are making the world better in their own unique way. A few people or companies that are inspiring me personally at the moment are Danielle La Porte, The World Land Trust, Greenpeace, Satya, Kirsty Mitchell, Cereal Magazine, Marianne Williamson, and fashion-wise All Walks Beyond the Catwalk.
Check them out, you won't regret it!

What is your favourite inspirational quote?
Be the change that you want to see in the world.

Rachel Holland

Tuesday 12 November 2013

2Inspire Profile Interview: Harriot Pleydell-Bouverie founder of Mallow & Marsh

In this fantastic profile interview we meet the amazing Harriot Pleydell-Bouverie, founder of Mallow and Marsh,  business that literally took her by surprise!
Please tell us what is a typical business day for you?

I don’t think I have a typical day yet. Mallow & Marsh is just launching, so my days are spent juggling everything from being sat in our storage unit packing boxes to meeting with the senior buyers at Sainsbury’s. It’s pretty mixed. As a one person company the buck stops with me on absolutely everything, so I have definitely become a bit of a jack of all trades, as I jump from Accountant, to Sales Director, Chef, CEO, Admin Monkey and Design guru. It’s a never ending circle and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

My phone is permanently charging yet always out of battery, and I rarely arrive on time for social evenings.

What made you start the business and how did you get started?

I have always dreamed of launching a business. At school I was the kid that bought in a ton of chocolate before Easter and sold it on to the other kids. However, when it came to it, I found myself working in the city, and although I enjoyed the company and people, I always knew I wanted to do something else, something that was mine.

I initially launched a company called De Bouverie –an internet based company which brought independent designers together on a community platform. Things were going well and I went to develop my skills at a start up weekend in September 2012. At the event, I was challenged to make some marshmallows, which I brought in the next day. I have never seen a response like it - the feedback and enthusiasm was amazing. I couldn’t stop thinking up new ideas and began experimenting with flavours and textures. Marshmallows just got under my skin and before I knew it Mallow & Marsh was born.   

There was nothing out there similar to what I wanted, and I realised you just couldn’t buy good marshmallows. I was lucky in that I was already working for myself and could split my time accordingly but it happened so fast. I made up a few batches and sold them to friends and family, and before I knew it I was stuck in my kitchen cooking and had corporate orders coming in and I got a stand at Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution. For me it was about being passionate about marshmallows and being prepared to work very long days. Within 2 months De Bouverie was being closed down and I was turning my hand to marshmallows full time. It was a very quick transition.  

What would you say has been your greatest accomplishment in the business world to date?

Very early on in the company, I applied for a competition called Pitch up with Sainsbury’s. It was a chance to pitch the Sainsbury’s buyers, and although I knew I wasn’t ready I thought it could be a great experience. A few months later I got the letter to say I was a finalist and that I was actually going to pitch them. I don’t think I left the office for a week, there was so much to prepare, and on the day I have never been so nervous. It was a great experience and I loved every second of it, but when I heard a week later that I had won I didn’t know what to do. It made everything so real and really took the business to a new level. So from a preliminary research start in March I had a 12 month contract with Sainsbury’s by September. Without a doubt that will be one of my best memories of all of this. 

What has been your biggest challenge in business so far?

Throughout the summer I had planned to test my products and price range at markets, festivals and all things foodie. I was very excited and had a very busy diary of events and then the heat wave hit. The entire of England was basking in 30 degree heat and loving it. However, I was dying in a 46 degree kitchen and a mountain of mushy marshmallows. It turns out marshmallows
melt in heat waves … it wasn’t fun.

It was a great thing to go through though. Had I launched and been a fully functional wholesaler by then I could have had major problems. As it was, I was able to figure out a way through the problem so that next year I wont have the same problems, and I only lost out on a few shows. My only wholesale client was incredibly considerate and understanding and helped me work out the problems. That is why its best to launch small and test the business first – as any number of things can go wrong that you can learn from and fix when your small but could break you as a larger business.

What are your future plans for the business?

Mallow & Marsh is only just getting going. We intend to show people what a real marshmallow tastes like, and make them accessible. They aren’t exclusive treats, but low fat, high energy cubes of delight!

Our sales strategy is only just starting and with a 12 month contract with Sainsbury’s already under our belt, interest from distributors, and an exporting opportunity, we intend to grow the company so that everyone can easily access our marshmallows. We have new flavours, a new product line and an enthusiastic list of retailers and events coming up – so watch this space!

If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?

Not really. Everything happens for a reason and you have to make mistakes along the way to learn from them. Each learning curve got me closer to where I am now, and right now the business and I couldn’t be in a better position and its only because of all the ups and downs we’ve been through to get here. Money is the only thing I would warn people to be wary of. I would spend less at the beginning and concentrate on sales and bringing money in before you grow too fast. You can be enthusiastic but sometimes you get caught up in the world of big businesses and forget that you don’t need everything a big business needs.

Why is it so important to inspire young women in particular to follow their dreams?

For some reason many young women have felt that business isn’t for them. They’ve been intimidated by hard talking men, and that false belief that you can only be a successful business woman if you are hard and have no emotions. This isn’t true at all. I spend my life dealing with
people who are only ever incredibly kind to me and people have quite literally bent over backwards to make things work for me and I haven’t got that from being nasty to people. I want to help banish the mirage that you have to be hard nosed and masculine to be successful and show young women that they can have these dreams and they can make them a reality.

Starting a business has nothing to do with whether you are a man or a woman. It has everything to do drive, passion, business acumen, and shear determination. No one should be put off because of whether they are a girl or boy, young or old. Having a dream is what living life is about and if that dream is business and entrepreneurship then you should grab it with both hands.

What advice would you give to somebody who wants to start a business in your industry?

You can always start a business for less than you think. My first business was a great learning curve for me, but the benefit of hindsight showed me that I could have done it for a lot less money. Cash is key so don’t let go of it unless you really have to. I managed to launch Mallow & Marsh off £250 a feat even I am surprised by. It goes to show anything is possible. Test the market slowly and sell sell sell, then grow once you know your product sells. Once you have proven it works, then look at the growth stage and a start up loan, or investment. Prove your concept first then grow.

What or who inspires you in business and why?

I think that anyone who goes out and does their own thing deserves a lot of credit, even when it doesn’t work, when you try it shows huge strength and courage. To me my mentor Charlotte Knight, founder of G’nosh is incredibly inspirational. She is both a mother and a business owner, she juggles a hundred different things and G’nosh has been growing from strength to strength. Despite being overly busy she always has time for me. She is one of the most determined, passionate and exciting people I know with an incredibly big heart.

My other main inspiration is food. I love food. I love everything about food. Be it sweet or savoury. So to think up new recipes, new flavour combinations or practise different ideas is less work and more pure heaven to me. Nothing like combining my passion with my job.

What is your favourite inspirational quote?

“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty” Winston Churchill

I also have a bit of a life rule that is - Everything will be ok in the end. If it’s not ok, then it’s not the end. 
Contact details
W: www.MallowandMarsh.com
A: Floor 4, Farringdon House, 105 - 106 Farringdon Road, EC1R 3BU
T: @mallowandmarsh
F: www.facebook.com/mallowandmarsh

Monday 11 November 2013

Global Entrepreneurship Week: FREE EVENT - "From Idea to Enterprise" 21st November 2013

‘From Idea to Enterprise’-This event is part of an initiative to engage Adults and young people in entrepreneurial development as a way to improve their socio-economic futures by encouraging them to explore entrepreneurialism as a way to address unemployment. This is currently a major challenge for people and for the borough in general. This event aims to surround them with inspirational high achievers, who can educate, inspire and empower by encouraging them to take responsibility for their futures.
P.S if you would like a stand/table at this event let me know.
Free Ticket: http://greenwichbrightfutures.eventbrite.com/

Friday 8 November 2013

2Inspire Inspire Profile Interview: NoScrunchie

In this profile interview we meet Leillah Sekalala, the founder of NoScrunchie. NoScrunchie is the UK’s only Afro salon finder, with peer reviews. Use NoScrunchie to find a good Afro salon near you or review one that you have been to. Read about Leillah's inspirational business story here.


Please tell us what is a typical business day for you?  
There are no typical days at NoScrunchie or at any start up, I think. We do everything from calling up salons, responding to emails, looking for new marketing and networking opportunities, social media, accounts, VAT returns, writing blog posts. It just depends what day it is and what deadlines are approaching.

We try and go for at least 2 networking evenings a week. At this stage, we need to meet as many people as possible to get our ideas out there.

What made you start the business and what steps did you take to start operating as a business? 
We had been thinking about the salon ratings side of the website for a few years but it was not until we figured out the product to sell and the price points that we started the business.

We wrote a business plan after doing some research.

We registered the company with companies house, bought our domain names and we were ready to go!

What would you say has been your greatest accomplishment in the business world to date?
We have not made a year yet but a few moments we will remember are our first sale and being asked to be the salon finder link on www.blackhairmagazine.co.uk.

What has been your biggest challenge in business so far?
Biggest challenge has been getting our name out there on the little resources that we have.

It's very hard to do good quality marketing on a tight budget.

What are your future plans for the business? 

Our future plans are to have at least 1000 salons on the site in another 6 months.

The rest of the plans are top secret at the moment. 

 If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently? 
I would have started sooner, maybe 3 years earlier!

What’s the best compliment you could receive in business?

The best compliment that we receive is ‘this is something that Afro Caribbean women need!’ Its really good to hear that there is a need for our service.

Why is it so important to inspire young women in particular to follow their dreams? 

A lot of young women are not as confident as the young men out there and they need an extra boost from us the old hands. Its really hard as ayoung girl when you are battling so many insecurities to realise how important your dreams are.

What advice would you give to somebody who wants to start a business in your industry? 

Do your research and write a business plan!

What or who inspires you in business and why? 

Anybody who is running a profit making business inspires me. But if I am to pick one person, I would choose Karren Brady.

What is your favourite inspirational quote?
It usually takes a decade or two before overnight success kicks in. Scott Robert Lim.


Thursday 7 November 2013

So...Amazing Health and Lifestyle Show Saturday 30th November 2013

Following the huge success of the last event, So...Amazing is proud to announce that its next Health and Lifestyle Show is due to be held on Saturday, 30th November, 2013, at the Holiday Inn Express, Ilford.
The event will allow visitors to meet face-to-face with some of the top health experts in London. The show also acts as an ideal opportunity for local businesses to promote their products, meet new customers, and promote their business.

At the show, there will be a huge array of events – and there is sure to be something to keep everyone entertained. Those attending will have the opportunity to indulge themselves with pampering sessions, get advice about health issues from local business owners, and attend one of the free inspirational health and lifestyle workshops.

Feedback about the last Health and Lifestyle event has been incredibly positive; One happy exhibitor said:
"Just to let you know that I am absolutely delighted with the success of the whole day and with the results. You ran the event in a really slick, professional and customer oriented way.
The enthusiasm and energy that the event has generated has made it all worthwhile. I have some very positive leads which I will follow up.”
“I also received some terrific feedback from my team. In their words, they 'had a ball' and really enjoyed the whole day. The structure of the day, the facilities and service was superb. The promotion that my company received was also excellent.”
Andrea Richards – The Accounts Navigator.

And another said:
“I was very impressed with the show, there was a great deal of choice for the customers to see and learn. The live Zumba lessons was an amazing idea, to get people involved and the guest speakers. I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the show.”

“I have taken part in a number of events before, so I came to the event with a preconception that events are mainly about making customers aware of your brand and not so much sales. But as I mentioned above I made more sales at this show than I have at any other show, and built up awareness of the brand.”
Lorraine Smith – Got to Be Natural

The next event will be held at the Holiday Inn Express, Newbury Park, Ilford, from 10.00am-6.00pm.
If you are an independent health or lifestyle expert and would like to exhibit at the event, visit http://soamazing.co.uk/exhibitor-information/ for more details.
If you are interested in sponsoring the event, visit http://soamazing.co.uk/sponsor/
To find out more about the Health and Lifestyle Show, visit the website at:
To contact So Amazing, call:
07805 010 226
Or use our contact form at:
Social Media:

Business woman Suzette McLean is the London-based organiser of the Health and Lifestyle Show. Suzette believes in the need to make healthy lifestyle choices; “My aim is to provide a platform that enables people to make informed choices that will ultimately improve or give them greater control over their health”

The So…Amazing Health and Lifestyle Show brings together a host of independent health experts all under one roof.
Event Sponsors: