Q&A with Holly Tucker MBE, founder of Holly & Co
“Trust your gut instinct, it’s your internal compass, your true north.” Holly Tucker MBE, founder of Holly & Co talks to AGENT about her new venture which is setting out to be the home of small business.
Holly & Co is the new venture from Holly Tucker MBE, co founder of notonthehighstreet.com. Holly & Co is setting out to be the home of small business, where you can find advice and inspiration all in one place.
From a curated collection of small business stories and inspiring video content to the online ‘Pharmacy – first aid for small business’, there’s even a consultancy side to Holly & Co, where you can apply to be one of 30 small businesses that Holly takes on each year.
Alongside the online offering, there is also a physical space in the heart of St Margarets, Twickenham, where you can immersive yourself in small business and creativity.
12 Questions for Holly Tucker MBE, founder of Holly & Co
Holly Tucker MBE took time out of her busy schedule to answer our AGENT Q&A and to tell us about her new business venture and her business experiences and inspirations.
1. Briefly tell us about your business and your business goals.
I am the co founder of notonthehighstreet and since launching 11 years ago it has gone on to be one of the largest UK marketplaces supporting small creative businesses. I have recently launched my second venture – Holly & Co – which aims to be the biggest cheerleader for small creative businesses, from online business advice to creative events, we have a physical and online shop as well as a consultancy supporting small businesses.
2. What age were you when you realised you wanted to run your own business?
I knew from a very young age that I wanted to run my own business – I started my schools first tuck shop aged 13. My first ‘proper’ job was a year later when my dad would drop me at 6am at a pub, where I was the weekend cleaner and he’d wait parked in the pub carpark, until I was finished. Nothing like bringing a teenager down to earth, than some marigolds!
3. Who are your business icons and inspirations?
I have many inspirations in my life, but certainly in terms of business inspirations, Anya Hindmarch is one of them – her ability to have grown a huge brand internationally whilst retaining creativity at its heart like Anya has, is incredibly hard and something very few manage to achieve.
4. What has been your biggest challenge in business, and how did you surmount it?
My biggest challenge has been learning to ‘stop and smell the roses’ or even notice that they have grown! I work on it everyday, I am not sure I will ever surmount it, but I certainly try!
5. What gives you the most satisfaction in business?
Having the privilege to be cheerleader for this incredible small army of creatives, small businesses and entrepreneurs is truly special. I have been in a position to watch thousands of small businesses start from one idea and flourish into companies employing 15 people with turnovers of over 1 million pounds a year. I plan to dedicate my life to cheerleading this creative group bringing colour to grey.
6. Work-Life balance: is it possible? How do you achieve it?
I’m a big believer in living your life as one whole. The term Work-Life to me, suggests that one is a negative and one good, that they cannot coexist and you have to balance them out. However, I believe that if you do something you truly love, you no longer strive for Work/Life balance and the two become so entwined in each other that you no longer have to strive for the elusive ‘balance’.
7. What is the first thing you do every day?
I make a list – I think it is imperative to set goals, daily, weekly, yearly – to keep you on track. It’s the way I have always worked, it’s also the way I encourage the Holly & Co team to work. My day starts very early, my son Harry is an early riser, so I am always up by 6am! If I can, I try to go for a short walk by the river to have a think before my mind gets filled with the demands of the day.
8. What screen saver picture is currently on your phone?
My partner Frank and son Harry. They are my world and I could not have built NOTHS or Holly & Co without them. The Holly & Co team is a real family and Harry and Frank are intrinsic to it – Harry helps out in the shop on Saturdays and has his own desk in the office, whilst Frank makes all the sandwiches and salads that we sell.
9. What is the most important app on your mobile phone, and why?
Seeing as I post into Instagram 7 times a week – I couldn’t live without it. It’s the foundation building block to Holly & Co – I’ve written 800 posts over the last two years. It’s this community that’s been the wind beneath my wings.
10. What is the last thing you Googled?
The use of apostrophes! I am dyslexic and after many many years of being told I could not write, I now write a blog! I would never have imagined it would become something which I actually enjoyed doing, but it certainly wasn’t something that came naturally to me, it’s a muscle which I’ve had to work (and despite working hard, I often have to revert back to Google for a quick answer!)
11. What item do you never leave the house without, and why?
My mobile phone, I am sure everyone says that – but it really is my way to keep in touch with my team, my family. I can work on the go, have access to all my documents and stay connected. To think we started NOTHS in an era where only the ‘Nokia Brick’ was our only tool! Talk about making things doubly hard.
12. What advice would you give to your younger self starting out in business?
After 15 years of championing small creative businesses, having built notonthehighstreet and now starting up Holly & Co, there are many lessons that I’ve learnt along the way, but one stands out above all the rest… Trust your gut instinct, it’s your internal compass, your true north. You will have many people around you along the way who will advise you, often you will have hired them on the basis that they know more about a certain subject that you, but if you can stay in tune with your own instincts and be guided by them, you will always be on the right path. Even if others challenge you or disagree with you, don’t ignore the voice that was built inside of you – for a reason!
IMAGE SOURCE: HOLLY TUCKER MBE