Jenny Holloway has worked in the fashion industry for over thirty years; initially as an assistant buyer for Littlewoods, selector for M&S and a senior buyer for the Arcadia Group before opening her own label Retro.
In April 2006 Jenny incorporated Fashion Enter (known as Fashion Capital), an award winning social enterprise that employs over 100 people. Fashion Enter has a factory which makes 7,500 units a week, Fashion Studio for start-ups and Fashion Technology Academy for skills training.
Jenny has been a National Winner of Not For Profit /Social Enterprise of the Year Award (London & The South), so we grabbed her for a quick interview.
Forward Ladies: How did you come up with the idea for your business?
JH: For six years I’d worked on the Government funded initiative the London Fashion Forum. This helped 1000's of designers to succeed in fashion, and I knew I just had to continue helping designers be a success with real business mentoring.
Forward Ladies: What were some of the initial challenges you faced and how did you overcome them?
JH: Money! There wasn't any. We were given a free shop in Centrale Croydon and we just had to roll up our sleeves and trade. We did it! I had a wonderful intern called Jenni Sutton and we became known as the ‘Two Jenny's’. Jenni's still here today!
Forward Ladies: How did you fund your business?
JH: I had £8k in shares which were cashed in for the shop refit. Then we traded with the new designer collections. It was a lot of long days and nights, but what a result for our designers...sales!
Forward Ladies: What is your top tip for growing your business?
JH: Never ever give up. Stay focused.
Forward Ladies: Why would you recommend that people build their network and find the support they need to start and grow their business?
JH: Business is all about people and networks. I was once told to be nice to people on the way up because you may well meet them on the way down!
Forward Ladies: How do you maintain a work/life balance?
JH: It’s very difficult. I'm in Mexico now answering these questions and it's my 25th Wedding Anniversary. The truth is, you just have to keep juggling but never lose sight of what's important.
Forward Ladies: How has mentorship made a difference in your business?
JH: It's great to have a support network because sometimes being a CEO is a lonely place. Mentoring is vital, as you can see from the work we do with our designers.
Forward Ladies: Thank you for your time Jenny, you’ve been great!
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