GLOBAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP WEEK: KATIE'S START UP STORY
This November, Global Entrepreneurship Network will celebrate 11 years of helping millions of people unleash their ideas to start and scale new businesses through Global Entrepreneurship Week. The campaign began in 2008 with an emphasis on inspiring young people to make their mark.
To celebrate, we interviewed Founder of The Able Label and young entrepreneur Katie, to get an insight into her life as an entrepreneur, find out what it has been like starting up a business and get some advice for other budding entrepreneurs.
1.) How did you become an entrepreneur?
I don't really see myself as a entrepreneur to be honest - I see myself as someone who's just very hard working and extremely passionate about what I do with a fantastic team around me.
I worked in the retail world as a fashion buyer at White Stuff. This was until two key things happened in my life. The first was my grandmother being diagnosed with Parkinson's. As a very close family, this hit us hard and we wanted to do everything we could to support her in keeping her independence for as long as possible. It was with this and after my grandmother explained to me how she hated my grandpa having to help her dress - feeling as if she'd lost her dignity, that I got to thinking, "there has to be something out there to help women with dressing difficulties who still want to maintain their style and identity". There wasn't.
Shocked by the lack of options, I signed myself up for several business startup courses and spent time asking people in a similar situation to my grandmother as well as those supporting her like healthcare professionals, exactly what they'd want and need from an easy-dress clothing range.
Soon after, the second key change in my life happened. My mum had an accident which meant she would not be able to look after my nan who had vascular dementia and alzheimer's. She was the main carer for my nan. I decided that this was the right time to leave White Stuff and take on the role as carer for my nan whilst also pursuing my dream of starting a business that would help women like my grandmother.
Sadly my grandmother died three years ago, just before The Able Label launched but her spirit lives on in my commitment to help women in the same situation she was. She inspired me to help her and others like her - wanting fashion and function.
2.) In one word, describe your life as an entrepreneur.
Ongoing - you are never quite satisfied, always trying to push the boundaries, and then moving onto the next thing, which inevitably takes you back to starting over again.
3.) What's been the most challenging thing starting up The Able Label?
Running a startup business means long days. You have to give up quite a lot and be driven and passionate enough to get up every day and work hard. On average my day will be 7am to 7pm. I'm extremely fortunate to have a supportive husband!
4.) What has been the most rewarding part of your role with The Able Label?
Getting testimonials through from happy customers is without a doubt the most rewarding part of my job. Before my Grandmother passed away, I'd always try new clothes on her to get her feedback and after asking whether she minded me doing so, she replied,
"No dear, as long as you help one other person in the same situation as me, do what you have to do".
One recent example from a customer who shops for her elderly mother was,
"Just wanted to say massive thank you to your company for the great products which we have been using with our elderly mum for the past few years. She has been able to enjoy the pretty clothes oblivious to their clever design for people with mobility needs. Mum was recently in hospital and the staff there were mightily impressed with the nighties and the ease with which they were able to change her clothes."
Hearing that we are making a positive impact is extremely rewarding.
5.) What would you say are the key elements for starting and running a successful business?
Knowledge, contacts and experience. These are all priceless.
My time working as a buyer was invaluable. It gave me knowledge of the fashion industry as well as the contacts and support to start the business - but without the first hand experience of seeing my grandmother's struggle, I wouldn't have the passion, drive and dedication to take the business forward.
6.) What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting out?
Don't be afraid to ask for help - the worst that anyone can do is say 'no'. And if they do say no, always ask for two other contacts who may be able to help.
7.) What are your future plans for The Able Label?
We have really only just got started. We are selling internationally which we will continue to grow but there are so many more I'd like to support with our clothing including men.
Watch this space!
Find out what makes The Able Label so special > What Makes The Able Label Special?