Holly & Co is the home of creative small business owners. A place to gain colourful advice and inspiration, share learnings and together, shine a light on the power of small businesses and artisans.
After a decade creating notonthehighstreet.com, Holly has decided to continue her life’s quest to bring colour to the world of grey by continuing to believe, champion and shine a light on the incredible talent of creative small business owners and artisans across the world.
Tell us about your dream job as a child.
My nickname as a child was ‘Hurricane Holly’ because I was always in such a rush to do the next thing. I knew from around the age of 15 that I wanted to run my own business. I have also always wanted to work with children. That’s why it has been such a revelation having a physical space for the first time, with Holly & Co, seeing the excitement on children’s faces when they come in and spot our fairy door is very special.
What did you do before you went into business?
I’ve always had a business mind – whether it was running my school tuck shop or starting my first local fair. But my first ‘proper’ job, so to speak, was at the advertising agency, Publicis, aged 17. I had decided that university wasn’t for me. Instead, I was the youngest at everything: account executive, manager and so on and I was looking after clients such as L’Oréal and Prestige and Collections.
Why did you go into business in the first place?
I don’t think it was a specific decision as such – as a born entrepreneur I think my brain works in a way which means I was always destined to go into business. By my very nature I’m a problem solver and futurist. I never focus on the negative things, only how we can make them better and what might be the move. After creating ‘Your local Fair’ – I knew that there was a real appetite for highly curated small businesses in one place, but I also quickly realised that as soon as the weather was bad people didn’t go to fairs. At around the same time, the internet was coming into its own, and so notonthehighstreet.com was born – a 24 hour curated fair for small businesses.
What or who has been your greatest influence in business and why?
In terms of another person in business I would have to say Anya Hindmarch – she’s kept creativity at the heart of everything she does, despite growing a into a global brand – it’s something that is incredibly hard to do. On a personal level, I would have to say my father – Robert. He has supported me every step of the way and has been intrinsic to both NOTHS (he was the CFO from 2006-2013) and now Holly & Co. There has never been a time when I am not discussing some aspect of finance, business or the future with him.
What is the best and worst decision you’ve ever made?
I don’t believe in making bad decisions, because I fundamentally believe in connecting the dots. It might not be immediately obvious why something has happened, but as you continue on your journey, you will look back and be able to connect the dots.
What is your vision for your business?
I have created Holly & Co to be the home of small businesses, to act as a place to both inspire and advise. I have committed the last 11 years to supporting small businesses (through building NOTHS) and have made the decision to dedicate the rest of my life shining a light on the incredible creative army bringing colour to grey. I believe Holly & Co will become the destination for small businesses. A place where people can connect and collaborate, where we can start conversations within the small business community and really tackle issues that affect us all.
What’s the best advice you have received in business?
After years of hiring people into a growing team, I have learnt a valuable lesson: It’s better to have a hole than an arsehole – hiring the wrong person can set your business back a year or more, particularly in a small business.
What do you do for fun?
I have a 12 year old son, Harry, so my time with him at the weekends is when we have our most fun!
What did you most fear in the early days of your business?
My son Harry was just 3 months old when I started setting up NOTHS, in those early years I missed out on so much of him growing up: his first steps, his first words. I constantly questioned whether my decision to be a working mum was damaging Harry. It in fact turns out, I wasn’t! Harry is now 12 and is thriving, he loves nothing more than coming down to Holly & Co, putting on his apron and clearing tables, I am incredibly proud of him.
What’s next for you and your business?
Holly & Co is only a few weeks old, and so the future feels very exciting for us, as an online hub it’s the first of its kind in the world. We know there’s a thirst for business advice without the grey, that being a small business can be very lonely and we hope that Holly & Co can become a virtual business partner, a hand holder for when the seas are a little stormy. What I am sure of, is that the freelance economy is set to grow to a huge 40% of the workforce by 2020, so the need for honest business advice and inspiration is bigger than ever.
If you could tell your younger you something what would you say?
Trust your gut instinct. People will be very quick to offer advice (whether you ask for it or not), listening carefully to your own instincts is crucial to survive in business.
Holly Tucker MBE