The retail veteran who started her own label
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