Holly & Co and co-founder of Notonthehighstreet
THE BIG QUESTIONS
WHAT IS YOUR PROFESSIONAL TITLE?
Founder of Holly & Co, Co-Founder and Chief Inspirator at Notonthehighstreet.
WHAT DO YOU DO ON A DAY-TO-DAY BASIS?
Coffee first thing at the Holly & Co offices in St Margarets (close to Richmond). We start the day with a full team 10am meeting, where everyone in the team updates the office on any big changes or things to be aware of. It’s amazing, as a new company we find ourselves in such an exciting time where new decisions are taken everyday, sending us in a different direction. So, despite only being a small team it's so important that we have a daily meeting to make sure we are all working towards the same goal. Currently we are working hard on putting together my first ever event - ‘The Congregation of Inspiration’. This September I plan to turn the business conferences and networking world, on its head. I’m going to share all my lessons, tips and hacks in creating and running a small business. I plan for everyone to leave (for the better) a different person to the one who arrived. This will be an event of learning and inspiration - a day the world has never seen before.
I love getting hands on with small businesses, so we have a number of small creative businesses that we work closely with to develop new products, rebrand and generally cheerleading them along what can often be quite a lonely and scary journey (seeing them is nearly always the highlight of the day!)
I still work closely with the NOTHS team as their Chief Inspirator, so I can often be found popping back into the offices during the week.
I try to be home at a reasonable time - as my son Harry is 13 and so I like to be on hand for homework and to have supper as a family.
WHAT DID YOU WANT TO DO WHEN YOU WERE A CHILD AND WHAT CHANGED?
I wanted to become a teacher or work with children. I have always loved kids and being around them - I knew from a young age that I wanted to be a mum. I don’t think it was necessarily something ‘changed in me’, I think the entrepreneurial mindset is something that is just inbuilt in me. I knew from a very young age that I wanted to run my own business - I started my schools first tuck shop aged 13. My first ‘proper’ job was a year later when my dad would drop me at 6am at a pub, where I was the weekend cleaner and he’d wait parked in the pub car park, until I was finished. Nothing like bringing a teenager down to earth with some marigolds!
WHAT ACADEMIC QUALIFICATIONS DO YOU HAVE?
I got my GCSEs and A Levels - but I am dyslexic so they weren’t anything to shout home about! On the day I picked up my A Level results I went to my first job interview - I was always in a rush to do the next thing!
WHAT’S THE BEST CAREER ADVICE YOU’VE EVER BEEN GIVEN?
You can grow a business in two ways; fat or strong. The key to growing a strong business is keeping it agile, small and focused. It must have a strong brand at its core, because if you have a strong brand, you can weather any storm. Your customer will be more forgiving of mistakes the business might make along the way and will ride out the storms with you.
WHO IS YOUR ROLE MODEL AND WHY?
In terms of another person in business I would have to say Anya Hindmarch - she’s kept creativity at the heart of everything she does, despite growing a into a global brand - it's something that is incredibly hard to do.
On a personal level, I would have to say my father - Robert. He has supported me every step of the way and has been intrinsic to both NOTHS (he was the CFO from 2006-2013) and now Holly & Co. There has never been a time when I am not discussing some aspect of finance, business or the future with him.
WHAT IS THE BEST THING ABOUT YOUR CURRENT WORKING ENVIRONMENT?
Without a doubt - the team.
Everyday, I get to work with my two Co Founders: Carrie who is my sister and third employee of NOTHS and Gabi, who is an honorary sister and who we count as family.
We then have 13 members of staff (both in the office and front of house in the shop) who work a mix of full time and part time. I am determined not to build an empire, as then all my attention would be spent on ‘running it’ not ‘doing it’. The team are all extraordinary and each have their own talents, which as a company we champion.
Holly & Co is very much a family and way beyond work colleagues.
WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE ABOUT YOUR DAILY WORK ROUTINE IF YOU COULD?
More time! I have a tendency to run at full capacity all the time, I will literally work until true fatigue hits. As I get older, I am learning that it is down to me alone to look after my own wellbeing - but some more hours in my day would be very helpful!
WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF PROFESSIONALLY IN FIVE YEARS’ TIME?
Doing exactly this! I am so happy in exactly this moment, building Holly & Co with an incredible team, surrounded by positive energy and passion. I plan to be an ‘Iris Apfel’ of small business!
DO YOU FEEL YOU CAN BE THE SAME PERSON AT WORK AND IN PRIVATE?
Absolutely - it’ s why I have built Holly & Co in this way. When I first started building Holly & Co, I had taken a step back from NOTHS and brought on a CEO for the day to day running of the company. I was exhausted, mentally and physically - we had been building for 11 years and never once stopped to breathe, enjoy the journey or even notice a season! I knew that I had a calling beyond NOTHS and so with the support of my family I decided to build Holly & Co.
WHERE AND IN WHAT ROLES ARE WOMEN IN THE LEADERSHIP STRUCTURE AT YOUR COMPANY?
Holly & Co is all women apart from two amazing men! I founded Holly & Co with my sister and honorary sister. I also have a right hand woman. I passionately believe in finding the right people for the team and then crafting the role around them, so many of the team work part time / flexible hours and many of the team are mums. We are a small team, so although we have a loose structure, everyone is 100% responsible for their area and I trust every member of the team and their decisions.
DOES DIVERSITY MATTER TO YOU?
Absolutely - for me when creating a team I look for hunger and passion over anything else. You can’t teach, learn or fake either of those qualities.
HOW GOOD IS YOUR WORK LIFE BALANCE?
I am asked a lot about work/life balance and it's taken me many years to work out the secret. But, there is no secret - it doesn’t exist. I’m a big believer in living your life as one whole. The term Work-Life to me, suggests that one is a negative and one good, that they cannot coexist and you have to balance them out. However, I believe that if you do something you truly love, you no longer strive for Work/Life balance and the two become so entwined in each other that you no longer have to strive for the elusive ‘balance’.
WHAT QUALITIES DOES BEING IN YOUR ROLE NECESSITATE?
I think as a founder of a company you have to have the ability to wear many hats - crucially you are the duracell battery of the business, so it’s imperative that you bring energy and direction. I would say I am highly emotionally intuitive - being able to read and room and adapt is crucial as is a the ability to listen to your gut instinct even when surrounded by other strong opinions.