After university I worked in sales for Bacardi then Red Bull for a total of 15 years. With the birth of my 1st baby (Harvey Blade) I returned to work within six months. With my second child, (Issey Rose) I took the full year off on maternity leave. During this time the concept of Blade & Rose was born. At that time there was nothing like it on the market, I struggled to find quality, funky leggings. I knew exactly what I wanted and sourced sustainable manufactures to produce many many samples until I was happy with the quality.
The inspiration behind the original Blade & Rose signature leggings design came from me constantly pulling down my crawling 3-month-old daughter’s dresses to cover her bottom. This, coupled with a distinct lack of interesting legging designs on the market at the time, created a lightbulb moment. Why not embrace the beautiful bottom sticking out and design a fun range of leggings around this concept?!
A major component of the development was to not only ensure the designs were eye-catching and interesting, but that the quality of the fabric was durable, functional, would wash well and most importantly, that it was soft and kind to children’s delicate skin. The initial range was met with roaring success and quickly sold out, establishing a dedicated fanbase among children and parents alike!
Can you tell us a little about your background and the company?
I took the original samples to the baby groups I went to with Issey Rose. The feedback from mums gave me the confidence to place my 1st order. I literally called on gift shops and baby boutiques with a starter pack of leggings (at that time three designs) and sold direct from the boot of my car. Every shop I called on bought straight away as this was such a unique product. The shops that I originally called on 13 years ago still stock our brand. Proving the quality hasn’t slipped and new designs keep coming.
How have you been able to gain funding and grow?
We have grown organically, putting all profit back into the business and growing our brand. Sacrificing family holidays and other luxuries for at least the first five years.
What are the key successes?
Hitting certain key milestone turnover targets, achieving our first million pound year was a massive achievement.
Successfully exporting internationally.
Winning many awards for our concept and designs. As well as business awards, including HSBC women in business, best international sales award.
Bringing the kids Harvey Blade & Issey Rose to international meetings and trade shows, a real family experience.
What were/are the challenges and how have you overcome these?
Juggling bringing up a family and growing abusiness. My husband left his chosen career and joined to grow the business with me. Both my husband and I came to live in the Lake District for work and to start a family. Although a beautiful place to live we moved away from our families in Sheffield and Newcastle. Childcare was not on tap; our kids came to work and trade shows we built as a family. Within three years we were able to employ a small team to support and help us grow.
What are your plans now/for the future?
We want to keep our concept fresh and unique as well as continue to work with our loyal retail partners and grow our fan base around the world.
What would you like to share with others to encourage them to start their own entrepreneurship journey?
The benefit of starting your business outweighs the stress and hours and hours of work you dedicate to starting it. You get to invest your time and energy into something you love and have passion for. You get to build your vision your destiny instead of someone else’s. You get to see your creation grow from an idea into a brand.
Can you share your top tips for entrepreneurial success?
Be careful not to over-spend, grow a loyal team to support you. We wouldn’t be where we are today without our amazing team who have all grown and are growing with us together.
Be open to all opportunities and talk to people in all industries to gain as much knowledge as you can. Every day is a learning day – soak up the information.
Who are the 5 people who inspire you the most and why?
Our parents, who have always been supportive. Helping us with childcare at home whilst we were at trade shows. My dad is still Blade & Rose’s biggest fan, and unofficial PR representative. Every baby group, baby shop or parents with babies he’ll tell them all about Blade & Rose.
David Attenborough, with his passion for wildlife and conservation. Our planet and wildlife are very close to my heart. David Attenborough has all through my life been the leader in educating the world in this delicate area.
Anita Roddick who founded the Body Shop and its ethical production of cosmetics with no animal testing. An extremely inspirational lady.
Richard Branson, he has built his empire from nothing. Like myself who’s business started in our front room. I too navigate a business with dyslexia. Now he is something inspire too. Although I may be setting my goals a bit high!!
J K Rowling, who has such a creative imagination and has captured the world with her work. Her believe and perseverance in the Harry Potter script to get published after being rejected many times, shows her determination and self-belief.
What are your favourite inspirational /motivational quotes?
No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” —Eleanor Roosevelt
You do not find a happy life you make it – Camila Eyring Kimball
Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts. – Winston Churchill
All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” —Walt Disney
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