Sud­den en­tre­pre­neur

The re­tail vet­eran who started her own la­bel

The Daily Telegraph - Telegraph Magazine - - Contents - In­ter­view by Anna Clarke

I was on hol­i­day when I had my epiphany.

I was in Ja­maica, sip­ping a large G&T, watch­ing the sun go down when I turned to my hus­band, Har­vey, and said: ‘I don’t want to do my job any more.’ He nearly fell off his chair. When we re­turned home to Lon­don, I handed in my no­tice at Marks & Spencer – the com­pany I had joined as a Satur­day girl, where I had risen to the rank of di­rec­tor – and left in Au­gust 2013. I think hit­ting 50 made me sit up and re­alise that I was over halfway through my life.

I didn’t know what I wanted to do next.

Af­ter 30 years of a re­lent­less work sched­ule, car­ing for two kids and hav­ing a hys­terec­tomy, I needed a break. So I took a year-long ‘me-ter­nity’. I spent it read­ing about start­ing a busi­ness and de­cid­ing what I wanted, which was be­ing around more for my teenage kids. The idea for Hope, a fash­ion brand for women in their 40s and over, came about be­cause I was go­ing through the menopause and it was af­fect­ing my con­fi­dence and style. I knew lots of women who felt the same way, so I wanted to make clothes they would feel good in.

I fi­nally ac­knowl­edged the voice in my head say­ing, ‘Why don’t you give it a go?’

I knew how to build a col­lec­tion and source fab­rics, so along with a de­signer friend, I cre­ated some mood boards and asked my fam­ily and friends what they thought.

I’ve never stopped wor­ry­ing it could all go wrong.

Since we launched Hope in 2015, Har­vey has been very sup­port­ive, but I know he has thought, ‘I hope you know what you’re do­ing.’ It was a big de­ci­sion to leave such a good job, es­pe­cially since I de­cided not pay my­self for five years to get my busi­ness off the ground.

It has af­fected fam­ily life.

Hope was based out of our home for the first four years, so some­times dur­ing the hol­i­days my kids would come down for break­fast and find the kitchen full of strangers. I re­alised we needed to move into an of­fice when my hus­band warned, al­beit halfjok­ingly, that our fam­ily might have to ‘di­vorce’ me!

Be­ing a boss is de­mand­ing.

Peo­ple think you can do what you want, and you can, but only to a point. If I want to watch my kids play­ing hockey on a Thurs­day af­ter­noon, I can, but I’ll have to claw back the hours to make up for it.

If you’re think­ing of go­ing into busi­ness, be hon­est.

Ask your­self if it is some­thing you want to pur­sue as a hobby in­stead. If not, do loads of re­search. When it comes to rais­ing the money, start with those clos­est to you. Be pre­pared to make mis­takes

– I made lots – but don’t beat your­self up, just learn from them and move on. And be ready to work harder than you’ve ever done be­fore.

Above Nayna Mcin­tosh at her of­fice.

Be­low A Hope mood board

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