Holly Tucker, MBE is a British entrepreneur, philanthropist, and UK Ambassador for Creative Small Businesses, but is probably most well-known for setting up the incredible online marketplace, notonthehighstreet.com.
Holly began her career involved in small businesses, from attending craft fairs to setting up Holly & Co, a network for small business owners, and she has always cared for greatly the people she has met along her journey. I am super excited to interview Holly for my INSPIRED interview, deviating away from the usual travel-focused content and instead bringing you content based around careers and personal development (something that will appear more on Sophie’s Suitcase over the coming 12 months).
How did your career first begin?
I’ve always been entrepreneurial; I remember starting businesses as a child and selling to my toys, or trying to sell my toys to my parents! It’s always been in my blood I suppose. I had an internship at Publicis that became the offer of a full time role, which was a bit crazy considering I wasn’t even 17. On the day I picked up my A-levels, my Mum drove me to work to start my full time job!
You are the powerhouse behind the iconic brand notonthehighstreet.com; what was your initial reason for creating such a business?
I used to put on an event called Your Local Fair, full of stalls where amazing small businesses would come and sell their products. Unfortunately, the success of events like these is largely dependent on the weather, and being in the UK; well, need I say more! I realised there wasn’t a place where all of these remarkable products and businesses existed together, and so the idea was born.
What did you learn from NOTHS?
So much – I still am. Having a birds eye view over 5,000 independent businesses is an amazing thing. One of the biggest things I’ve learned, is that almost everyone has the same problems and issues, and everyone feels just as frustrated by them. It was one of the biggest reasons why I started Holly & Co, so that I might share this insight and demystify some of the difficult things that crop up on the small business journey.
You’ve since started Holly & Co, a creative consultancy business and advice and inspiration hub, that champions small business owners across the world. What made you take this path?
Not only to share my insight and expertise, but to create another ‘home’ for these wonderful people to be together. Sometimes being a small business owner can be an incredibly isolating experience, we want to change that. We hope Holly & Co advises and inspires, as much as it connects and encourages collaboration. We have such huge plans for 2018 especially, I can’t wait to share them with the world!
What has been your proudest moment at work to date?
There have honestly been so many! But on this particular journey, I would have to say launching our physical space (the Holly & Co Work/Shop, a creative cafe that changes monthly to support a different creative industry), and our website and the digital side of the brand, within a month of each other. It was absolutely crazy, I can’t even begin to tell you! But I’m so lucky to have such an incredible team behind me. We’ve adapted and changed our offering since then, because we’re always listening to what small businesses really want and need from us.
And on top of everything else you are doing, you’re the UK Ambassador to Creative Small Businesses, appointed by the Prime Minister to support international trade and investment. What does that involve?
It involves getting the colourful voice of this creative community heard where it matters most. I want to put creativity on the agenda right across the UK; not just in government, but in our schools and homes too.
What is so important about supporting small businesses in the UK?
To me, there’s nothing more important than supporting homegrown, grassroots businesses; the magic their bring to our worlds is so underestimated. At a time when each city is becoming a clone town (you know, the same soulless strips of shops that dominate each high street), we need this creative group more than ever. I urge you to get out there and shop small!
Many people these days struggle to maintain a good work-life balance. I know I have done in the past! What advice would you give someone who does not feel like they have it quite balanced?
Write a list of the things that are taking up your time, and look at what makes you happy. Whatever those things are, do more of them; family and relationships are key to a happy life, so make sure you’re not overlooking them.
What is the inspirational quote you live and breathe?
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has” – Margaret Mead