Are you a Passionpreneur?

The life of an entrepreneur can be a stressful one but a rewarding one, and I can certainly vouch for both sides!

With a successful business comes difficult decisions, financial pressure and a need to keep ahead of the competition. But it’s also exciting, unpredictable and extremely rewarding which is why it’s important to enjoy what you do. I’m lucky; I’m passionate and completely in love with my job and that certainly makes things a lot easier to manage.

This year, I’m supporting an initiative called Britain’s Top Real Role Model, a nationwide competition run by Amway UK Ltd to uncover Britain’s unsung entrepreneurial heroes. Together we are searching for an aspiring Passionpreneur – someone who has set up a business related to a hobby or passion of theirs – to win a £5,000 investment for their business.

Britain's Top Real Role Model
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The Prince’s Trust

Working with The Prince’s Trust has been such an amazing and inspiring experience. I got to meet some really driven young entrepreneurs who have been able to follow their dreams and start their businesses with the help of this worthwhile organisation.

Last year I was given the opportunity to mentor one such individual called Fay and we worked together on a product that we then sold on QVC. It was a great exercise not only in product development, but also selling as on QVC you are selling into people’s homes as opposed to a shop so we got to scream and shout about it, which really made a difference. It aired in November – in time for Christmas and we had a great time doing it!

I strongly believe that anybody can make a success of their life. You just have to believe in yourself, have a passion, and make sure you can be heard. There are so many opportunities and avenues for young people to take these days and a charity like The Prince’s Trust shows that there are people who will listen and can make it happen.

Over time, I have learned a lot about being an entrepreneur and the dedication that it takes. You need to understand your market, have a good plan, and not be afraid to ask for help.

This year I met Karishma Malam of Karizma’s Collection and Jonathan Mitchell of Brothers We Stand. They are two highly ambitious young people with amazing ideas. I know their businesses will do well. Watch this video to learn more about Karishma and Jonathan and get my top 6 tips on how to start a successful business.

Dragons’ Den Here I Come

Dragons' Den

Having embarked on a new venture as a Dragon on Dragons’ Den, I wanted to share my feelings about it here with you. I‘ve always been passionate about championing entrepreneurs and the opportunity to be part of someone’s innovative new business idea really excites me.

When asked how I feel about taking the place of a fellow business woman on the show, I tell them that it shouldn’t be viewed as such. What I am hoping to do is bring a different perspective into the Den and add my own creative energy.

I still remember how I felt at 16 when I started my design business and that is the drive that I want to see in the eyes of those standing in front of us pitching their dreams. I love talking to entrepreneurs, but if I don’t see something I like, I won’t invest in it. Being a businesswoman involves giving some tough love sometimes. Saying that, I know a gem when I see one and there’ll be some real ones this season.

Tune in for the first episode on Sunday, 12th August on BBC 2. In the meantime, check out the Dragons’ Den trailer.


Secrets for Business Success

Kelly is not only an outstadning interior designer, but also a successful business woman. As part of her role with the UK Trade & Investment Kelly is always keen to help businesses become more successful by offering her expertise.

In Kelly’s latest Huffington blog post – Business 101: Taking Stock, she shares some great tips about doing business successfully. The article is featured on the front page of Huffington post, together with Arianna Huffington, the president and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group, David Lidington and Birgitta Ohlsson, as well as Sir Christopher Meyer, Former British Ambassador to the United States and Germany.

Read the article now to get some great business mentoring advice from Kelly!

For more information, stay tuned on Kelly’s Facebook and Twitter.


Kelly on BBC

Kelly has another busy day with BBC tomorrow.

She will be interviewed about her role with UK Trade & Investment. Kelly has just become the latest entrepreneur to agree to work with UKTI, and other parts of government, to promote UK excellence internationally.

The current show time is as following:

  • BBC London News (Radio) – 7.25am Live
  • BBC Breakfast News (TV) – 6:50 am Live; 7:50 repeat
  • BBC 5 Live (Radio) – 8.45am Live
  • BBC News24 (TV) – 9.30am Live

Make sure you tune in!


Kelly Works with UKTI

Great news!

Kelly becomes the latest entrepreneur to agree to work with UK Trade & Investment (UKTI), and other parts of government, to promote UK excellence internationally.

As part of her advocate role Kelly will work with UKTI sharing her knowledge and insights in international business, by giving practical support and mentoring SMEs and entrepreneurs taking their first steps into trading in international markets.

One of UKTI’s key aims is to work with more small and medium-sized enterprises to encourage them to export and support them until they are able to confidently trade overseas without assistance. Kelly has been invited by the Government to help inspire UK companies grow internationally.

Speaking of the appointment, Kelly says: “I feel honoured to be working with UKTI and I look forward to working closely with SMEs and entrepreneurs to help them grow and take the next step into international markets.”

Congratulations to Kelly and look forward to more information, so stay tuned on Kelly’s Facebook and Twitter 😉


2011 Round Up

Kelly and her family just finished a much deserved holiday in Mauritius. So in the beginning of the new year I thought I’d post a quick recap of her highlights over the last 12 months.

Kelly’s first TV programme Superior Interiors with Kelly Hoppen has proved to be a great success, working together with Channel 5 and Siemens UK.

2011 saw a strategic approach to raising Kelly’s profile online in China through the use of social networks. Kelly has profiles on 6 main social media platforms in China, including Weibo, Kaixin, with an audience numbering 5,800.

Kelly has been involved in events related to Asia during the whole year and has made quite a few trips to places like China, Taipei and Russia. Here’s an image of Kelly at Guangzhou Design Week.

2011 has been a busy year for Kelly beyond her day job as a leading interior designer. She has released a range of furniture with Barker & Stonehouse Paris and Selfridge London, and more projects including Kata Rocks Thailand. LUX* Resort in Mauritius was another highlight, and Kelly was there for “Island Light”, an amazing production that announced the concept around the new LUX* Island Resorts.

Kelly published her new book Ideas in April this year which aside from having a chic design gives great tips and tricks for styling your bedroom, kitchen, shelves and table settings.

She also branched out and produced a collection of luxury organic clothing with Earth Couture the sales of which help stop the spread of AIDS and Malaria in Africa. Kelly also contributed to the Pink Swan Project in an effort to raise fund for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

2011 was quite the year for Kelly and we are looking into more excited news and projects in the coming new year!


CNBC Meets Kelly Hoppen

If you missed Kelly on CNBC last night be sure to tune in when it repeats this weekend…this really is a must watch! CNBC reporter Tania Bryer not only sat down with Kelly but spoke with former client Gary Rhodes and Kelly’s dear friend and inspiration Vidal Sassoon.

Kelly spoke about her childhood and knowing early on that she had a real affinity for interiors. Aside from taking trips to show homes with her mother Kelly would style her own bedroom and make sure everything was just so…a designer in the making to be sure!

I was surprised to hear that Kelly had experienced bullying as a child and as a result never felt at ease at school. Though I’ve heard of many successful people who have experienced bullying it’s hard to image what those times must have been like for Kelly who was also struggling with undiagnosed dyslexia.

Kelly has spoken before about the importance of her relationship with her father but in the interview she shared what it was like to lose such an important person in her life. Coming to terms with the loss of a loved one is never easy but Kelly rebounded from the tragedy with incredible resilience following her passion for interiors that began so early in life. Starting with nothing at just 16 she took on her first project and the rest, as they say, is history.

It was interesting to hear how she adapted in the face of the global economic downturn. As a self-made woman Kelly stated that it was very difficult times when her US opportunities seemed to dry up overnight. The thing I found interesting was the real sense of responsibility Kelly felt for all the people that depend on her for their own livelihoods. She is definitely a different breed of business owner.

Her unique take on business was made even more clear when she spoke about her belief in family and that she is always on call for her children even now that they are adults. Kelly spoke openly about her two marriages and her very modern family. It was really touching to hear about the bonds between Kelly, her daughters (Natasha, Sienna and Savannah) and Jo Miller that were forged in the difficult circumstances of Jo’s fight with breast cancer.

Though Kelly’s life did (and still does) revolve around her family when the girls went off to boarding school she returned to interiors in earnest. Since then her business has flourished and aside from working with amazing clients (Anthony Hopkins, Jude Law and Victoria Beckham to name a few) her unique vision has turned into an ever expanding range of products. From furniture, to accessories, and from paints and wallpapers to home fragrence and kitchens there is no part of the home that can’t have a touch of the Kelly Hoppen!

She spoke about her desire and commitment to growing her global business by highlighting the focus she has placed on the Asian market. Kelly will be China from December 9-11 but in the last 6 months she has also launched profiles on Chinese language platforms so she can speak directly to her fans in their own language. She is on Weibo, Kaixin, RenRen, Douban and Xiaozhan. While her travel schedule can be gruelling Kelly is dedicated to helping her business reach new heights (and markets).

Perhaps it’s seeing so much of the world that has really spurned Kelly on to look for ever more opportunities to give back. While she is committed to sharing her knowledge with students in her design school she has also partnered with Earth Couture to create an organic ethical fashion line that helps fight the spread of malaria in Africa. There are even plans in place to share a percentage of the sales of her new furniture rage withcharity.

Kelly also shared her thoughts on being honoured by Her Majesty the Queen for her work with charity, employing British workers and raising the profile of a truly British brand. I was really touched by the comments made by Kelly’s mentor and friend Vidal Sassoon who said she was a woman of unique vision who has an amazing future in store that may surprise people. The “Kelly for Prime Minister” campaign started with Vidal Soon but we think it has real legs.

I’ve had the pleasure of working for Kelly for just over a year and a half now and even I was surprised by the things Kelly shared in this interview. If you’ve ever wondered what has shaped Kelly into the incredible businesswoman and inspiration she is today all your questions will be answered in this interview!

The programme airs in the UK, Europe, Asia, the Middle East and on CNBC World in America at the following times so be sure to tune in:

Rebroadcast time:

Saturday 19/11 at 21:30 gmt/22:30 cet

Sunday 20/11 at 19:30 gmt/ 20:30 cet

Monday 21/11 at 22:30 gmt/23:30 cet

Wednesday 22/11 at 22:30 gmt/23:30

Here in the UK it is on the following channels:

Sky (505), Virgin (613), Talk Talk (510), and Freesat (210)


Keeping it in the Family

I’ve written about following your passion and this week Jaime Derringer shared her own journey to creating her sites Design Milk and Dog Milk. Since I think celebrating success is a great way to insipre others to follow their own passion I thought I’d expand on this idea even more as people in my own family are doing just that but in very different industries.

I adore photography but for my brother Michael it’s his business. A professional photographer for 20 years and an avid collector of others works he opened his own gallery, The Michael Hoppen Gallery, in Chelsea in 1993. So passionate about the art form Michael has helped acquaint people with different periods and styles to gain an understanding of the important elements that go into making, not just the taking, a photograph. In 2000, he founded the Michael Hoppen Contemporary Gallery which has become important not only for international collectors but for giving emerging artists a place to show their works. My brother’s passion for photography becomes so clear when you walk into his gallery that I’ve spent hours there learning, looking and even buying the amazing pieces there.

I also want to talk a bit about Sienna and Savannah and their twenty8twelve collection. Though Sienna pursued her passion for acting and Savannah her passion for fashion in separate cities their paths eventually brought them back together to create twenty8twelve. Debuting their Autumn/Winter 2009 collection in Spring 2008 they’ve won rave reviews, worked on collections for a further 6 seasons and employ a staff of 7 to bring twenty8twelve to life. I’m so happy that the two of them are pursuing this passion together and making such a success of it!

I’ve mentioned how my daughter (she was the picture you clicked through to get to this blog post) is key to helping me stay healthy through her lovely Ganesh Munchies which are my daily treat but she has also founded an amazing company called Ganesh Retreats which provides amazing wellness retreats at really affordable prices. Having established a successful career in Event Planning, Natasha had a life changing trip to India in 2009 which made her reassess things and choose to pursue her passion for healthy and wellbeing. Always a believer in holistic lifestyle she retrained as a Reiki master in India and came back to the UK to learn more about the importance of nutrition from my good friend Vicky Edgson. Combining her event planning background with her new skills in healing and nutrition Natasha founded a company that would allow her to share this with others. She has since assembled an amazing team around her and the retreats she offers are truly life changing experiences. I’m so proud of her desire to pursue her passion and the work she is doing which is helpful to so many others.

P.S> This is a shot of the lovely food she put in my fridge this week. Delicious and so good for me!


Jaime Derringer shares business insights and resources

Yesterday, Jaime Derringer the Founder & Editor of Design Milk and Dog Milk shared her personal journey so far as she follows her passion as a profession. Today she shares her experience of creating a successful business, highlights the importance of community to building an online magazine and asseses how the interiors world is doing at embracing the digital landscape.

You’ve started an amazing business what tips could you offer to others considering starting a business themselves?

Don’t underestimate the power of the Internet, blogging, Twitter, Facebook and other forms of social media and online engagement.

Prepare to live and breathe your business. You will work harder than you’ve ever worked before, but if you’re passionate enough it never feels like work.

How important is community to what you?

At first, I didn’t think that community was a big deal, nor did I believe that face-to-face networking was all that important. Boy, was I wrong. Just because you run a website doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t get involved with your online community or get out in the “real” world and meet people.

I decided to start getting involved by actually going OFFline.

I put my photo on my website, made real business cards, started attending events — really go out there and meet people in my business, both bloggers and designers. It seems that once you attach your face and a human being to a website, there is an instant feeling of comfort. You feel more comfortable picking up the phone, emailing or contact them. They become approachable. You begin to look forward to meeting with them at events, and collaboration seems easier.

Moreover, handing out business cards and shaking hands with people who don’t know who you are is a great way to spread your brand. Once people know your face or see your logo on your business card, they will make the connection when they see your name or website mentioned online.

To anyone who wants to hide behind the computer, I say put on your sneakers and get out there and pound the pavement.

How important have facebook and twitter been to connecting with people and raising awareness for Design Milk and Dog Milk?

Essential. If you’re not on one or the other these days, you can forget about reaching a large portion of the people who spend their time online. I have been able to connect with the design lovers as young as 13, 14, or 15 because of Twitter — before they even decide to become designers or artists.

I have a large non-US population of readers on Facebook. I’m able to connect with people I wouldn’t otherwise reach with just a website. Many of my Twitter followers found me on Twitter first before ever hearing of my website.

How important is reader feedback to what you do?

Crucial. I wish I got more reader feedback. I do what I do for my readers.

Here in the UK there is still a bit of uncertainty about bloggers and online magazine. What would you say to convince people as to the merits of online resources?

This is a tough question because there are a lot of quality bloggers online but there are probably twice as many uninformed bloggers. It is hard to distinguish who is who. Since the web basically offers everyone their own voice (anyone can start a blog), everyone can instantly become a source for information. I like to stick to the well-known news resources to get my news about world affairs, science, technology, and politics.

However, when it comes to my hobbies and my own business industry, it’s a bit different. There are top print magazines who have years and years of experience in the industry who have begun to produce online content. This is very promising for the rest of us. The more traditional, well-known top names in the industry who begin to recognize the importance of online media the more their readers will also move in this direction. We need Wallpaper*, Metropolis, Elle Décor, Architectural Digest, House Beautiful, Modernism Magazine, etc to really push their readers into reading about design and getting information online.

Moreover, I think that the current generation of designers who have been in the industry for over 30 years are likely not the target audience of bloggers. We’re targeting the designers, architects, and future designers who are young, still in school, and embracing online media as their FIRST source of information and resource. I want my readers to grow with me, and I want them to tell me where and how I need to grow to meet their needs. I have a feeling that the current generation of 18-30 year olds is going to reshape where and how we get information, so I think that those who don’t accept us as valuable or valid will get pushed out the door by the new generation.

How do you think the interior design world is doing at embracing digital? Who is doing things well?

I think resource sites like Decorati , MyDeco or Modenus are great in reaching the interior design audience. I also think that weekly Twitter chats like Interior Design Chat have become a great way for IDs to connect and share resources or tips with each other.

Some of the top design magazines are doing OK but no one is really standing out just yet. I think they are still in transition. With all the movement in Editor-in-Chiefs and Online Editors happening in the past 6 months, things are changing so we should see more happening online in 2011.

Who should the interiors world look to for examples of best practice in incorporating digital tools and the web into their business plans?

I think that HGTV is doing a pretty good job of connecting online with viewers. They’ve created online video series, promoted their Twitter and Facebook on their TV channel and partnered with interior design bloggers to help promote their Design Star TV show.

I also think that there are great design-related people online like Kenneth Brown, Angelo Surmelis, ABCDDesign, Rue Magazine, Grace Bonney, there are a lot of design folks doing things right online, but I’m not seeing the REALLY big names do anything amazing yet. I think big things are coming soon. I’m hopeful.

If one has a budget allocated, I think looking into getting advice from someone like The Kaleidoscope Partnership is a good start. If designers or companies are struggling, TKP is a helpful resource to strategize, teach, and inform about social media.

Here in the UK a few of our newspapers, such as The Times, have gone behind a ‘pay wall’ and are now subscription based. What are your thoughts on this? Is it counter to what the web is all about?

I think this idea is great, but it’s not for everyone. Magazines and newspapers that were previously popular only in print are now offering their full content online because many people are now going to the web for news. If you think about it you’re essentially reading the same thing in a different format. In my opinion, just because you’re holding an iPad instead of a newspaper doesn’t make the words more or less valuable and you should pay the same price for it. Whatever you paid in a paper subscription you should pay in an online subscription.

For anyone who says online is cheaper than print to produce has never developed an iPad app, had their own server, hired a programmer or a designer. To truly provide quality, attractive, and user-friendly content, the costs add up!

Image Credit: The round-up of social networking sites came from The Ecommerce Solution.