Meet the founder of Hope
Hi Nayna, thank you so much for joining me. To kick things off, tell me a little bit about the founder of Hope.
I started working with my Mum from her market stall in Birmingham from the age of 10, then I got a Saturday job with M&S and went on to join their Junior Management training scheme. From there I moved onto Next, George at Asda, per una, then back to M&S so my career went full circle. I have sat in enough customer insight presentations to understand the commercial opportunity of the 50 plus market. When I got to that age myself I certainly had a lot of empathy with some of the commentary. This made me awareof how invisible this woman is and is so often ignored by the industry. So I decided to bite the bullet and walk away from by big job at M&S – it certainly gave me food for thought.
Inspiration is always a great indication of why people launch businesses. Who or what inspired you to get started?
My Mum and her Jamaican family have always inspired me, she ran her own business for many years, that’s probably why I had a little voice inside me that wanted to start by own brand, but it was only when I left M&S and had some time out to read, research and reflect that I realised this was what I wanted to do
How do you set yourself apart from other businesses in your industry?
At Hope we aim to make the Customer feel beautifully confident with a collection designed and made in Britain or Italy with beautiful fabrics and yarns that wrap and drape the body, celebrating the parts you want to and disguising the parts you don’t.
I wanted to challenge the sizing system that is so emotive in women’s retail. We have a sizing system that positively expresses your size – I often say size is more than just a number. Who wants to be called ‘extra large’ – at Hope we call you ‘super curvy’.
As a woman’s body changes throughout her life so do the shapes she needs to wear, we address this firstly with our Foundation Collection which will smooth, sculpt and shape the body without sacrificing comfort. It’s like achieving the best base you can then layer on top.
We embrace diversity and to that end we are not afraid to use real women, often customers with real bodies, as well as models to promote the collection.
What’s the single most important decision that you made, that contributed to your business?
Being an online business that we had to invest in digital expertise to drive the business forward.
Who is your target audience?
Hope is aimed at the 50 plus Customer, I am 56 and often say 'I know this Customer because I am this Customer'.
What would be your number one tip for young entrepreneurs who are ready to launch their own business?
Don’t be afraid to work the hardest you have ever worked in your life!
What first in the mornings, phone, book, laptop or me time?
Phone – checking sales from the day before.
What plans do you have for Hope the coming 12 months?
Continue to focus on customer acquisition, building brand awareness and evolving the collection.
What’s the most important question entrepreneurs should be asking themselves?
Understanding your cash-flow projections will determine the success or failure of the business.
What are your thoughts on networking to build your business?
It’s essential, especially if you need ongoing investment as we have done.
What habits do you think helped you to become successful?
Drive, determination, passion, sense of humour!