Inspiration

7 lessons every entrepreneur needs to know

This is what we learnt when some of fashion’s most successful businesswomen gathered for a Brilliant Breakfast webinar in aid of Women Supporting Women.

When, on 15 October, fashion’s leading entrepreneurs took part in a live webinar to discuss what it takes to make it in business, we knew we’d hear some fascinating insights, tips and lessons to remember – and they didn’t disappoint.

This is what we learnt when Annoushka Ducas, who launched Links of London and her eponymous jewellery brand; Chrissie Rucker, founder of The White Company; and Daisy Knatchbull, founder of The Deck London – the first tailoring house exclusively for women on Savile Row – sat down for the Brilliant Breakfast, in aid of Women Supporting Women for The Prince’s Trust, hosted at Bicester Village.

01

Don’t listen to naysayers

“My friends thought I was mad,” says Chrissie of her initial launch of The White Company. She chose to ignore the unsupportive minority and instead persevered with her vision, focusing on the many people in her life who were constantly encouraging her. She highlights the importance of surrounding yourself with those who support you: “Have people in your life who will pick you up!”

02

Find your niche

When Annoushka first set up Links of London the idea was found almost accidentally. Her mother needed a gift for 60 fishermen she worked with, so Annoushka designed fish-shaped cufflinks for them. When Harvey Nichols bought the leftover stock, she realised she’d found her niche. For Daisy, her dream of a made-to-measure tailoring house exclusively for women was entirely unique. Find a gap in the market and you’re more likely to find success with it.

03

Ask for lots of advice

“People are always flattered to be asked for advice,” insists Daisy. Over the course of three months, while she was launching her brand The Deck London, Daisy estimates she went for coffee with more than 100 people from all over the industry, gathering invaluable advice from every one of them.

Out of things gone wrong come great new ideas.

Annoushka Ducas

Annoushka

04

Expect to struggle occasionally

No matter your business, there will always be moments where it feels impossible. For Chrissie, that moment came when the roof of her factory was blown off in the early days of The White Company. “Out of things gone wrong come great new ideas,” she says.

Similarly, Annoushka believes difficult times provide their own opportunity as they “allow you to step back and realise what the truly important things are, and concentrate on the things that make the boat go faster.”

05

Know your brand and stick to it

All three founders stress the importance of remembering what sets you apart and sticking to those core values, even as you evolve. “You need a strong and clear brand proposition,” says Daisy. “You need to be known for something and trusted for something.” As the longer-established brands, both The White Company and Annoushka are perfect examples of this; new collections remain loyal to the original principles and continue to be recognised for their quality.

06

Be confident in yourself

For Annoushka, confidence was one of the most important values passed to her by her mother, who sadly died when Annoushka was just 23. “What really struck me was that if I hadn’t had [my mother’s guidance] I would’ve found it much harder,” she says of starting her business. It’s this support that inspired her to launch the Brilliant Breakfast, which invites anyone to host a breakfast and raise money for The Prince’s Trust. Through the Women Supporting Women initiative, she hopes we can give all women the confidence to pursue their dreams too.

07

Help the next generation

Regardless of their business idea, all three businesswomen were united in their desire to help the entrepreneurs following in their footsteps. And, with young women being disproportionally affected by unemployment during the pandemic, that help is needed now more than ever.

If you’d like to help, you can organise your own Brilliant Breakfast or donate here.