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In 2014 after being a stay at home mum for seven years, I wanted to fulfil my potential and achieve my dream of starting a design business; so, I decided to set up my textile and cushion brand Penelope Hope. Originally a potential name for a baby Penelope Hope suited the style of my business. My name is also the Russian translation for hope so the birth of this business represents an extension of myself. Whilst pregnant, I began researching, drawing up designs and patterns, and generating ideas for branding. At this stage, I consulted with Tony Brassell and Carl Symes at Startup Guernsey to gain help and to discuss my idea’s potential. The meeting was very positive and supportive.
Startup Guernsey advised me of the next steps I needed to take and what direction I should pursue. I was also informed of the networking co-working Wednesday coffee mornings at Urban Kitchen. These gave me a chance to meet other entrepreneurs and make valuable contacts.
I really like saturated colours and lots of patterns. I found a gap in the market when I was redesigning my house; I couldn’t find any of the bright fabrics I was looking for. I knew Penelope Hope was going to be about colour, patterns, glitz, and lots of lovely fabrics and I wanted the materials to be sourced and manufactured in the UK.
As a Guernsey-based designer, it is very important that consumers can gain access to my collection so I expanded my market by setting up a website to give me the opportunity to sell to anyone in the world. I also wanted to be able to offer some of my products to wholesale customers and it was a dream to have my products stocked in some of the leading stores across the UK. Currently, the business is in its infancy.
I have just come back from London where I exhibited my brand at a show called Tent London, which is part of London Design Festival that attracts over 30,000 visitors over four days. The exhibition was a brilliant experience. I received positive feedback from consumers and storeowners and am now in the process of following up on leads.
My advice is to do your best to follow your dream. I began following mine by doing a lot of work behind the scenes; researching, gathering information and using helpful social media tools like Pinterest to make mood boards. I didn’t initially train as a textile designer; I obtained a BA (Hons) degree in Retail Management and worked in merchandising and marketing M&S and Specsavers. I knew I wanted a more creative and design-orientated role so I enrolled in online courses. These courses gave me a chance to retrain myself and gave me more confidence and skill in my area of work. Whatever your passion or dream may be, you should pursue it.
There are little steps along the way that can benefit you, for example, networking. You never know what opportunities will come if you talk and interact with people. You need to have courage in your conviction and any mistakes you make are always good learning experiences.
The Penelope Hope Studio and Showroom are located at 14 Mill Street in St Peter Port. I can be contacted via email [email protected] and on social media