Mumpreneur Profile: Sophie and Holly of Notonthehighstreet.com

Name of Business: notonthehighstreet.com

Holly and Sophie
Holly and Sophie

Tell us about your family: Notonthehighstreet.com was set up by Holly Tucker and Sophie Cornish. Holly lives with partner Frank and son Harry, 3, just across the river from the notonthehighstreet.com offices in West London. Sophie is married to Simon and has a daughter aged 10 and a son aged 12.

When did you launch? Notonthehighstreet.com launched in April 2006

How did you get started?

We first worked together about 11 years ago, but got the idea for the business when I was a freelance journalist and Holly was working freelance in media sales. We came up with a fabulous idea and felt that we had to do it. The last thing on our minds was that it would be easy.

We both came from a media background which is a huge help: we know how important it is to have a very visible profile. We have been blessed by the way the media has covered the business. The way notonthehighstreet.com supports small businesses in the UK resonates with people and journalists. Holly had also been involved in upmarket local shopping fairs which was a good start.

What has worked well about your business?

The response of the media has been almost exactly as we hoped. The products are genuinely gorgeous and we have hundreds of inspiring small businesses selling on the site. We work with a lot of friends and family which works well. Holly’s sister is our picture editor, her father is our financial director, and her mum works in talent spotting. Five or six of the staff are friends, or friends of friends. We find that people care so much more when they are friends and family that it really benefits the business.

What has been your biggest challenge so far? How have you dealt with it?

Starting the business was a phenomenal challenge. The ongoing challenge has been the fact that there is never enough cash. We started with personal savings and small bank loans which took up through the first hundred thousand or so, and have been through two rounds of venture capital funding. (Venture capitalist trusts look at investments of £500,000 or more.) This sort of thing can take all your time for months and months.

The other challenge is personal. Holly and I are permanently exhausted. It is all consuming. We do an 8.30 to 6 day, and there are many periods of catching up or covering events during evenings, early mornings and weekends. We can be looking at sales at 11 at night and again at 6.30 the next morning.

How do you fit in work with the family?

We can occasionally drop the children at school and then come straight into work. More often though, our nannies arrive at around 7am to do the school run while we head into the office. My little one was only six when we started; Holly’s son was just a baby, and before we had offices, she would often come to my house and set up the travel cot and Harry would let us get on with work.

Not letting the family down is important. I’ll always be at sports days and concerts. We don’t need to ask for time off for these events, but you are always aware that the person left in the office is busting a gut to keep pace in your absence. I do miss being at the school gate each day. My nanny is great and does it really well. When I’m home I catch up on what they are doing, but I can still fell like an outsider at school.

What advice would you give to someone else wanting to work in this area?

Do your homework by fully researching your market and your idea, plan ahead with budget forecasting for at least three years, make sure you have plenty of money for the inevitable setbacks, listen carefully to people you trust, changing and modifying your plans as you go. But don’t ever let anyone deter you from your core dream.

If you have a flexible working business opportunity, please explain briefly what you offer and how people find out more.

You can find most of the facts about joining notonthehighstreet.com at http://www.notonthehighstreet.com/join/why. If you want to increase your odds of getting accepted we want businesses with great photos of what you offer. Less populated areas in the site include fresh independent fashion and some domestic staples on the homes and gardens arena such as china and bedlinen. The initial start up fee to appear is in the region of £600 and there is a commission on sales.

Your website: www.notonthehighstreet.com

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