Holly & Co is the latest brainchild from entrepreneur Holly Tucker MBE, the co-founder of notonthehighstreet.com. She took the PaperFest stage at this week’s Top Drawer’s to share what she’s learned about business, advising founders of small enterprises to put creativity at the heart of their businesses while playing to their strengths.
Back in 2006, Holly Tucker and her friend Sophie Cornish set up the hugely successful website notonthehighstreet.com – offering original, mostly handmade items that included greeting cards, homewares, fashion accessories, jewellery and stationery.
Holly has moved on from this and was keen to tell the story of her new brand, Holly & Co, a new venture for small businesses and artisans that connects with, and advises creatives, based on Holly’s own journey as a businesswoman. The multi-faceted business includes a website (which showcases products, including cards from artisan publishers) as well as a ’shopfront’ where workshops are held, in St Margarets, Twickenham.
“What creatives have in common is that what they do is completely unique to them, and that is the magic I see in small businesses,” Holly enthuses.
“But to be successful, creative talent isn’t enough. People have to know their own strengths and weaknesses and then play to them,” she told the audience at Top Drawer. “Right from the start, individuals have to work out who they are and what they are great at – as well as what they are not so great at – so that they can concentrate on what they do well, enabling them to progress from there. In fact, finding out who you are is one of the most important things you can do for yourself and your business,” she stresses.
Such is her belief in the importance of creativity, that she believes that if today’s big businesses could start all over again, they would put creativity at the forefront of what they do rather than letting the ‘grey’ seep in. “As the founder of a successful small artisan business, you have to do what other people don’t do,” she points out. “Holly & Co is about recognising that and celebrating the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker. We are looking to change the language of being called an ‘SME’. We are also setting out to change people’s thinking.”
Holly’s advice to the owners of small businesses is for them to be true to themselves, and to be very, very good at what they do. “They need to be unique,” she advises.
* Holly received an MBE for her services to small businesses in 2013.
* In 2015, the PM appointed her the UK Ambassador for Creative Small Businesses.