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Ahead of her time in the opportunity she spotted, she had the guts to persevere in the face of the mostly men
who said no and went on to change the face of retail as we knew it. Warm, funny and honest, I'm delighted to welcome Holly to My Life in Seven Charms.
Holly, I'm so excited to talk to you.
Thank you. A pleasure to be here. Thank you for asking me.
I was trying to work out when we first met, and I think it was about eight or 10 years ago?
Yes, it's a little while ago now.
It was a little while ago, but I remember when I did first meet you and just how incredibly friendly and
just... I was totally struck by that. I think, that's why so many people must be so
struck by your warmth and total and infectious enthusiasm.
What a nice welcome, my goodness. Thank you.
But I'm really interested to know what your life in seven times is going to look like. I'm actually going
to start with your first charm, which is a
paint palette. Now, I was really excited by a paint palette because as a doula,
it's just delicious to have all
those lovely stones. I'd like it really to be white gold and then the blobs of color, I think they should be
gorgeous emerald and a ruby and maybe a blue sapphire.
Then I think on the same bale, so that the paintbrush hangs separately, the paintbrush should be really
fine, would probably be made of ebony, the actual handle, and then yellow gold brush where you can see the
texture of the brush.
Oh, gosh. Yes, please.
Moving on from how I visualize it, I'd really love you to tell me why you've chosen a paint palette and
what that means to you.
It's all to do with creativity. I suppose that when I look at my life, one of my earliest memories was
creating a... I lived in Holland. I moved to Holland when I was seven years old. My father got a job at General
Electric in Holland. At seven years old, we moved to Antwerp, and then I moved on to Amsterdam. In this time I
went to international schools and at that point I was very, very creative. It's made me really think, when you
asked me to put my life in seven charms, what has been that running golden thread in my life? I suppose that
creativity, the love of color, the love of people doing things differently, has always been this fuel, and
certainly recently I've realized as I run quite quickly in business, that the way that I relax mostly is by visiting the V&A, the next exhibition,
sitting there absorbing, and actually going back to my energy roots, so to speak.
Were your parents... Because you said that your father... Was he artistic as well as running-
No, not at all. I don't think either of them were artistic, so to speak, but just recently, actually even
just today, I realized that my mother has a way of doing... She'll have memories of people and she has this
brilliant way of converting memories into actually gifts, but very creatively. I've lived with that always. If
it was someone's 50th... I know. Yes, these things are... But actually my mother's mother was a beautiful model.
She designed theatre sets. She lived in the 1930s, '40s. She used to wear phenomenal men's shirts tied with my
grandfather's jeans on. This was not thedone thing.
She actually used to create unusual Christmas trees, and actually, she built them. I think that that has
come through. I always talk about-
Do remember that? Do you remember it or is that something that was described to you?
It was described and it was always the photographs. You know when those key photographs that you have, she
died when I was four, but when you know that someone's in your life, always, I've always spoken about her, and
my grandfather always says that I am very like her. So, I feel like her spirit is very strong in everything I've
done in my life.
Well, that brings us neatly onto your second charm, which is absolutely fascinating, this second charm.
This second charm is a vegetable wreath. Unusual, seen lots of wreaths, but not often a vegetable wreath.
Actually, I was always imagining how I was going to create this vegetable wreath. But I guess I see it, because
I like to make things which are absolutely as perfect as they can be.
I thought maybe an avocado cut in half.
Cut in half. I know it won't look so great when it's got a bit old, but I like the idea of an avocado also
because green is such a vibrant, lovely color. At the back of the wreath, I think should be lovely, yellow,
gold, and all the textures of the vegetables carved into it. But more importantly is, why on Earth, have you
chose a vegetable wreath?
Well, it's a very important thing to me, actually. It's the beginning of Not on the High Street and I wish
it was a slightly sexier story than beginning with a vegetable wreath, but that is the beginning, that's the
true beginning. I basically, when I was a lot younger, I ended up getting married to my childhood sweetheart.
That started, unfortunately, not a great period of my life. My marriage didn't work out and at the same time,
got diagnosed with a brain tumor. I needed to basically heal, and that for me was pulling together, bizarrely,
wreaths. It wasn't a morbid thing, these were all very colorful wreaths. This was using chilies and tangerines
with pink string, and it was using, as my beautiful charm shows you, vegetables.
I would go down to the local greengrocers and he would ask me what I was doing, because I was putting
colors together and I said, "Well, I'm making a wreath." He would be like, "Okay, I'll just let her do this."
Each week I would come down and I would make these wreaths with vegetables and give it out to friends and
family. That was the process, the start off my journey. Because of that wreath, I decided actually I'll do some
Christmas wreaths, and I'll go and sell them at the local Christmas fair.
I realized that there was no such thing as the local Christmas fair. I lived in Chiswick I would
have thought that there should have been one. Me being me, I actually said, well, what I'll do is I'll create
the fair and then I'll get the best trestle table in my fair to sell my wreaths, and then I'll become a
gazillionaire selling wreaths. Because it's me, I didn't have a few stallholders, I had 100, and I hired the
town hall and I've picked all the stall holders, all these amazing small businesses under one roof. It was... I
had put advertising in magazines. I'd got a father Christmas walking up and down the streets, handing out
This thing became the first Chiswick Christmas fair. It was highly successful. I sold out of all my
wreaths, delivered all the reefs and then I thought I would never want to see another wreath in my life. What
I'm going to do is I'm going to put on fairs, and that is really... I did that for two and a half years, I put
fairs on all over London, and that really was the start of it all because I had hand picked every small
How did you find them?
No, I would get all the magazines, every single weekend. I would troll through, rip them out. I would go
up and down high streets. I would actually knock on doors of independent high street shops, and I would tell
them about my fair. Actually, I would then curate this group. I had that many baby children stalls, many jewelry
stalls, I had local stalls come. Fairs hadn't really been run like that before.
But it also, it's extraordinary, in terms of energy, because you clearly have always had this
extraordinary energy, but to go around and actually find stallholders was just... Now, we just go online and
Yeah. This was back in 2002. It was a very long time ago and I suppose always through my life, I now look
back and say that actually my work has never been work, but it was just, I'd found a passion in discovering
Now, you rather casually just said, "Oh yes, and I had got married and then I had a brain tumor." Can we
just talk a little bit about that, because that is utterly extraordinary. Just tell us a little bit. You've
married your childhood sweetheart, which clearly didn't work out.
No, it didn't.
Quite soon after or?
Yeah. It's the thing I would say to my son now, and there was no telling me, I was in a hurry. I started
my first job at 17. On the day I got my results, I got my job in advertising. I was quite an old soul. By the
age of 21, do you know what I mean? I'm, an account manager in advertising. My ex-husband worked in advertising
as well. He was the same sort of path as me. We'd been together a very long time and now if I reflected and I
could talk to Harry, if he was going to make those same decisions, the person you are-
Harry is your son-
My son, sorry. If at 22 years old or 21 years old, you're still a baby. You really, really have not yet
found out who you were. So, it didn't work out, which was in highly painful, and it had me crushing very much to
the floor and I found out I had a brain tumor. Luckily, the brain tumor ended up not being something that needs
to be operated on. I'm okay. But at the time it was a very scary period. Everything seemed to be falling apart
and potentially when you're really in a hurry, maybe that's also the reflection I have. I had been driving so
fast to what I wanted. I'm not taking no for an answer, which is fine in such an entrepreneurial spirited way.
But in life sometimes you need to listen to the universe more and potentially it was telling me something.
Yeah, slow down. Slow down, take it... Just tell me a little bit about how did that feel?
I can't really remember much about that period anymore, because it was so much pain in so many ways.
It's like childbirth, you forget.
Slightly, I do. What I do remember is, the day that my dad picked me up, when it was over and he took me
back to the parental home. I knew at that point, my life was never going to be the same again. I think that at a
very young age, to be that broken, gave me a good sense of... It built strength.
Well, it hasn't stopped you. Whatever it was, thank goodness, it hasn't stopped you.
No. It's those things, isn't it? When you go through such hard times, what you come out is stronger,
wiser. I know you can relate to that in business in your life, it's something I'd never wish on anybody, but in
a way it has made me who I am.
Your next charm is this lovely, Not on the High Street tag. The way I see that is exactly as the logo of
Not on the High Street, which as we all know is a shape of an old fashioned label. I see this in lovely 18
karat, yellow gold with Not on the High Street engraved into it on one side, like the address label, but on the
other side, because the colors were blue, this is royal blue, and I would like to do that in micro pavé. So
tiny, tiny little stones of different
colored sapphires. That's how I see it, and I think it will be absolutely divine.
So do I.
Now, tell us about Not on the High Street and this charm.
Well, this was a very important charm to me. I refer to Not on the High Street as my second child. Not on
the High Street was born understanding the energy that I had created in that room, and I then decided to take it
one step further, because I'd organized all these fairs. When it rained, when it poured, when Johnny had a
football match, you name it, people wouldn't turn up. You'd got all these souls into a town hall, for whatever
reason it didn't work, but it wasn't because of their products, what we needed is a new town hall roof. At the
time, this is 2005, the internet was there, and you had things like Amazon and eBay. Do you remember when Amazon
... only books. When you went onto eBay, it was someone's socks that they didn't want at Christmas, and
they were called one, two, three, four socks, and you could bid for them for 50P. It was a really long time ago.
At this point in time, actually, I had already, been lucky enough to find a gentleman called Frank, who I
started dating and we fell in love and I was pregnant with Harry.
I thought, I don't want to do fairs ever again. I need to earn money, but I cannot let go of the electricity I'd
created bringing all these small businesses together. What I need to do is put it on the internet, but I don't
want to do it alone. I've now realized I couldn't do it alone. So, I contacted my ex boss from Publicis, a lady
called Sophie at the time and, said to her, "Listen, I've got this crazy idea, I'd like to bring everything
that's... " This was just written in an email, "Not on the High Street."
Everything that's not on the high street onto the internet. I wrote this email and I said, "Listen, it's crazy,
but would you like to join me on this?" 24 hours later, Sophie had written back and said, "You know what, I've
set up my own small business, but yes, I would." That was in 2005 and we knew nothing about retail. As in, we
were great consumers of retail. We weren't in tech, but what we did have was the eye of the consumer. We
understood that small businesses were being pushed off the high street, and actually what we wanted as
discerning consumers was to be able to go and find those brilliant products that we all love when we go to the
little lanes in Brighton and actually source them, we pool them all together, and we launched April, 2006.
We now know that this was the third marketplace in the world. We were creating technology that even eBay didn't
have. If we had known any of this, Annoushka, we would never have even started because naivety is the most
beautiful thing. People say naivety is terrible, I think it's absolutely great.
Well, it makes everything possible-
... because it's like, well, what do you mean you can't do it? Of course you can do it, we just got to
find a different way to.
Absolutely. Yeah, we launched April, 2006.
How did you fund it?
Well, we managed to get very small loan and actually at the time, Sophie's husband and parents put in a
little bit, my parents put in a little bit and Frank had just left the... Well, was still in the police at the
time, and he had a court case, he'd lost his hearing due to whatever reason, and he gave me his settlement,
which was 14,000 pounds.
We pooled together, I think it was just under 70,000 pounds between the two of us, and we thought that
that was not only contingency, but a double contingency. We thought we were being the smartest people ever.
Funnily enough, that wasn't enough money.
That wasn't enough money to get to launch either, presumably, because the cost of the tech was-
Oh, no, we could launch. Yeah, it was amazing. We managed to pool friends... You know what we do, you pull
friends and friends. This is like a village built, Not on the High Street at the beginning. Where we ran out of
money is when the proof of concept happened, that first Christmas in 2006, where the sales started to come
through and we realized that our technology wasn't strong enough, we needed more people. That is when we started
having to fundraise, which was a whole other story. Two women, blonde hair-
No, no, let's talk about that, because I think that's really interesting. I want to talk about that
because yeah, two women, it's difficult to do now, but what about then? How did you go about it?
It was an absolutely ridiculous experience now I look back at it. At the time, I would say 0.5% of all VC
funding was going to women, okay? Not even... Then we were selling very female products. We would have people
say, well, this is all very nice, but, do you really think crafts should come out of the town hall? Or my wife
does all of the shopping. I wouldn't know what their shopping malarkey is like. They couldn't see it. We were
like, "Actually, we're about to change the face of retailing."
I can always remember it was the Christmas and we were funding, Not on the High Street through our credit
card checkbooks at the time. I was maybe going to lose my home. I had a very, very young child and we'd risked
it all. We were lucky enough that we managed, thanks to a friend who was in a church in the South of France, who
happened to sit on a pew next to someone she knew, that friend knew of a gentleman called Tom Teichmann. Tom
Teichmann ran Spark Ventures, which were the first people to write the first check for lastminute.com, and it
was at that moment, that he said, "You've got the spark. We're going to invest in you."
That's amazing. In terms... But it grew very fast. This is complete ignorance on my part, but at the
beginning, was it all women run businesses or was it not that? Am I imagining that?
No, it never was. What we ended up doing, which I love is probably doing more for women wanting to go back
to work than any government scheme. Actually, funny enough, over the years, we heard more and more men quitting
their jobs in the city to join the wives than the other way round.
Because it's such a success.
Yes, but we are 95% female partners, and that is just the way it's been. Yeah, it's just the way it is.
What was the hardest thing about growing it? Because my goodness, everybody knew about it quite quickly, I
Well, that's what people think. No one knew about it forever. My goodness.
Not in your ever. Not in your ever.
Yeah, day one, I didn't understand why we weren't getting flooded with sales. I think that we did a good
job in PR. You've got to remember that we were one of the only two women in business who had raised VC funding
in a tech business out there. We had amazing small businesses on the site and they knew that we were curated.
That was the thing, Annoushka, we turned away 95% of everyone that applied to our business. Now, when you're
eating baked beans and paying people with your credit card checkbooks, you actually, definitely want to be
taking on more people, but we knew our brand had to be about quality, it had to be about really curating the
best of the best. The most difficult thing about growing that business was that we had to create everything from
scratch, and that was the most difficult thing. We were breaking glass ceilings.
You've created this incredible success.
But just tell me about, then what happened?
Well, we grew Not on the High Street. It was phenomenal. Collectively it's pumped 1 billion pounds into
our small business community. Over that period of time, our small businesses, that's 5,000 small businesses that
we have, have received over that period of time, a billion pounds. Now, when I think back to Sophie and me
persuading people that this was going to change the face of retail, we did it, we did it. I'm so happy that we
created it, but what I'm so happy about is the small businesses that never let us down, that were so creative,
and they in turn have gone on to have phenomenal lives too. It's just a beautiful story.
Your next charm is rather just lovely, the whole concept of... It's angel wings. I had seen these on a
bale. I'd seen it with a little heart in the middle, and the wings surrounding the heart. For me, those wings
have got to move.
It's got to be in white gold.
It's got to be, all full of diamonds
and you'll see the formation of the feathers, just in the gold. It's very hard to describe this to those people
that can't see, but we'll put photographs of it.
Oh my goodness. Sounds beautiful.
This is such a lovely concept. Now, why have you chosen the angel wings?
Well, at the time that I was having my lowest point when I was younger, that I described-
This is after your divorce, having been told you've got brain tumor.
Yes, and trying to pick myself literally off the ground. I met with a friend of mine who... Met up with
her ex boyfriend. That friend actually, I used to work with, I knew her ex-boyfriend. They'd actually come to my
wedding. I'd known him since I was 18 years old. This was a gentleman called Frank. From that evening, we got
on, we'd always been friends, nothing in it, but we started to see each other more. He was obviously single. I
was now divorced, and this friendship grew into love, and, he literally... I used to call him my angel from
above because I feel like he saved me. When we came along, it literally felt like he was mending me and putting
me back together. I owe him a lot.
The confidence thing is how did he manage to do that? How did he give you back something that you really
felt that you'd lost?
I think he just truly adored me. Remember, he'd known me since I was 17 years old. It was this
understanding of really who I was when maybe I didn't even know who I was at that point in time. He reminded me
of that. I would go to do something and then he'd push me to go and do it. He pushed me to go and start your
local fair. He helped me make the bloody wreaths. After his long day doing whatever he was doing at Scotland
Yard, he was then putting together my wreaths. He loved me, and I think that that is what gave me the
confidence, because at that time I was rock bottom. As I said, I didn't really know who I was.
Am I right in thinking that whilst you've built Not on the High Street and now Holly and Co, he has been
really the carer for Harry and perhaps the house and looking after things at home. How is that?
Yeah. Well, it didn't pan out so well at the beginning, as you might realize. Suddenly our DNA, the
caveman and cave woman aspects of our... Do you remember, our brains haven't really matured have they, since
those times. We all think that everything has.
It's an amazing feat though, to do that, because I do think, for men to be doing the shopping and putting
the bins out and all of those things, that's hard. That's hard. It's a huge.
Women have done it forever, but there is thing fighting against potentially what you think you should be
doing as a man. If you're the only man in the playground, it is a real adjustment. Whereas actually that was a
long time ago, we're now a decade on, and I think many, many more men are holding that position in the
How have you managed to balance... I'm sure everyone wants to know how have you managed to balance being a
mummy, dealing with all of this. I know how difficult it is, but how have you dealt with the kind of guilt?
Guilt not at work, guilt not looking after Harry, guilt not looking after Frank. How have you dealt with that?
But what I did very early on and Sophie taught me this, was it's about quality of time and not quantity.
It's about in those younger years, being there for bedtime and maybe working once they've gone to sleep. Once I
heard that, and then I worked out that it was working and my son has been a wonderful being always, that
actually I realized that the guilt was a completely wasted energy and actually I was shattered by it. I started
banishing the guilt. Certainly because the amount of interest he was showing in what I was doing, he wanted to
start a business and have a chair next to my table since the age of four, this has always been that we were
going to work together, that we... Frank was brilliant at playing, but I was great at getting things done or
building his first business with him, Sugar Boy at the age of 11.
This has been our way of communicating. Actually, I was lucky because everything was working out, but I
did miss his first footsteps. I did miss his first words, but he was okay with that, as long as I communicated
it with him. When I talked to other women and mothers who are all going into starting their own businesses, the
main thing I say to them is bring your children along with the ride with you, make them understand it and do not
have guilt. You are doing a brilliant job in educating your children about entrepreneurial-ism and it has been
an amazing thing because actually we've now, after a long period of time, have very settled in the way that we
are. Harry has had a dad at home since he was five, has always done the school run, has always been there, has
been a phenomenal male influence, and I have been the working woman, the strong mom.
But it works out. If you both have the intention, you've got to learn to compromise and understand each
other's feelings and-
Am I right in thinking that you got married in COVID when you were allowed? Am I right of thinking that?
You know that little break we had between lockdowns, we managed to... He asked me on my birthday in March
this year, and then we decided... Well, we'd waited so long, then let's do it quickly. Then that little gap that
we had, we got married, and it surprised us because we'd both been married before, but it was the best day...
After Harry being born, it was the best day of our lives.
What about Harry? Harry must've... Well, tell me how Harry felt about it?
Harry's wanted us to get married since he was four. This meant a huge deal. Actually, the moment that we
walked up the little aisle, and Harry was there as the best man, and he did the speeches, the most eloquent
speech, honestly. He learned guitar so that he could play our first dance.
Which was what?
Cyndi Lauper, oh my gosh, Time After Time. It was just the most beautiful moment. He played it on the
guitar, we danced, and then he came and gave us a hug. It was this moment of unity that our little family
finally did this, and it was the most beautiful thing. As I said, it was one of the best days of my life. It was
I could see it... It's giving me goosebumps, actually.
Your next charm is a diamond.
This is a different one, because I'm not just going to draw a socking great diamond, and God forbid, you
should choose a socking great diamond as your charm.
I've actually chosen to make a frame of the facets of a diamond so that I don't get caught out. It's the
facets of a diamond in white gold, and absolutely small pavé diamonds all around the frame. But it does mean we can
make it a bit bigger than it would be if it was a real diamond, single, solitaire diamond.
That sounds delicious.
Why a diamond? I'm diamonds all the way, but why-
And me. A diamond because I think that, moving on from Not on the High Streets, to building my second
business or my third child, Holly & Co, I-
Hold on, are you still involved in Not on the High Street?
Yes, absolutely. I'm its largest cheerleader and help management and all those sorts of things, but I'm
out of the day-to-day. Building Holly and Co was because of my experience as being the CEO and the chair lady,
and the founder of Not on the High Street, I got to see a bird's eye view of these small businesses, that I
don't think any other human has had. I feel, even though I don't have a degree, I think I have a PhD in small
I thought, again, if I know this, I have an obligation, a bit like the fair, a little bit like Not on the
High Street, I have an obligation to do something with that knowledge, and that knowledge was to build a
landscape in the UK, and I hope in the world over time, which is a very colorful environment for small
businesses to be born in and to thrive in. Because I think that government websites talking about tax is not
what a small business wants. A small business wants a cheerleader for small businesses, someone who's
vulnerable, creating great things like podcasts and events and social media and competitions and awards,
bringing color to their world.
One of the things I've realized is my job in life, why I think I've been put on this planet and what I'll
be doing until I'm 90, that's the age of my retirement, will be that I am going to try and find people's
diamonds. I believe that everyone has a diamond, and I think it's our job to find it in our children, but also
to find it in ourselves. To find that diamond that is uniquely you, the reason why you tick and potentially, and
I hope to find a way of building a business around that diamond.
Holly, how are you going to find the people's diamond? How'd you find it in each person?
Well, I believe that a diamond is
basically full of passion. It's about finding all of the things in your life that make you, you,
that make you tick and alive and smile and feel all cells start vibrating. For me, that's what I realized was
helping people be the best versions of themselves where they're so gloriously happy, that's my diamond. That was
it, and that's what I spend my time doing.
That's what Holly & Co is about.
That's what Holly and Co is about, creating a new
landscape. I'm going to take the bullshit out of business, I'm going to make business less
scary. Stop having men create a black art about it and actually get people engaged with who they are and not
building businesses to sell, building businesses because it's the true form of being rich, isn't it? Being truly
happy. I want to try and help people find that way.
Onto your sixth charm, hummingbird.
I think it's got to be in a golden cage, hasn't it? With the door open.
But I see it as a tiny miniature with a hinge door so that the door can open and the hummingbird, which I
see in... They're all different colors really, but in my mind, it's blue sapphires, with its wings out. Because
you're so tiny, I don't think I'm going to be able to get that-
In jewelry, you called it [french 00:35:35] which is when you get something to actually move.
But I think it would be so beautiful if you can. Because part of what I see about the hummingbird is,
always on the move, always flapping its wings and moving and keeping going, keep it going. That's how I imagine
it. But, yes, tell me why.
Well, basically I got to a point in Not on the High Street, where I think that lots of entrepreneurs
understand this feeling, I had grown it to the point that I felt that I could grow it, but I was losing myself
in it. At that point, there was a moment in time that I realized is this my entire future? Is there another
chapter for Holly Tucker? I decided that there was, it was a very, very difficult transition. It did take me a
while to be able to know who I was again, because, when you give everything to a business, it's very difficult
to understand who you are outside of that company.
I moved, we got a CEO in for the day-to-day of the business, and that was after my very difficult first
year of that transition, I have to say and Carrie my sister and my dear friend, Gabbie, who's also the
co-founder of Holly & Co, as much as Carrie is. They picked me up off the ground, a little bit like Frank did at
that time, and they helped remind me who I was, and that is that hummingbird. That hummingbird with all of that
color, who needed to fly out of the cage and find her flock again, who was waiting to... With open arms, they
were waiting for me and I flew up into them and they greeted me with such love and kindness.
I have built Holly & Co because of that community, and little by little, and it's been about five years
now and little by little I've grown again. I think I met my most colorful self again, which has been amazing.
Well, that's a very good explanation of why the hummingbird.
I think it describes you absolutely to perfect, actually. I really do.
Well, thank you. My goodness.
Now your last charm, it's a megaphone. What would Frank say about that?
He said, that's right, it is a megaphone. That's the megaphone she talks to me with all day long. Yes.
A megaphone is just such a divine little... It would be so adorable in miniature.
I love yellow gold. So, I think
it should be highly polished, yellow gold, obviously with a little hole up that narrow end. I thought it'd be
nice to have, in rubies, the SME because I'm suspecting, the reason you chose a megaphone is all about small
What Holly & Co is all about.
Am I right?
You're so right. You've got it spot on. Absolutely spot on. As I said, I think that my world from now on,
I'm 43 years old now, my 40th birthday, I worked out that I had 29,000 days on this planet and I had 14,000 days
left on my 40th, and for me, this megaphone represents calling for action. It's about cheerleading this group of
people, it's about taking responsibility for some of the things that we need to see. I want to help women start
businesses. I want to educate children about entrepreneurship, and I want to help educate customers about voting
with their money, for the type of world that they want to live in. I want to also help everyone who's ever
thought about dreaming about starting a business, go for it.
Because this is the thing, this is the future. I believe that the future is going to be small business. I
think as we get faster with all our tech everywhere and AI, and everything's done for us, I think we need...
Until we've got chips in our heads, I think we're going to need to want to be connected, and I think we want to
know where we're buying from.
I think we're seeing the rise of the conscious consumer now, and I think that right now, someone needs to
be saying some of the things that we're not talking about, and that is what that megaphone is. I don't want to
be a celebrity or be known, I want to take responsibility for the days that I have left on this planet and for
doing positive work, for being in service, and that's my megaphone as I do that job.
Well, judging by your Instagram, you're doing an absolutely unbelievable job.
Clearly, everyone that follows you thinks that. But we've talked so much about all the incredible energy
and businesses that you've run and helped and started. In all of this, where's the downtime? Please tell me
there's some downtime. Please tell me there's downtime. What is it?
Well, there is downtime, but I really believe, I have found my happiest place. If you ask my parents, my
husband now about where Holly is happiest, I'm happiest helping people, I'm happiest being creative, I'm
happiest breaking glass ceilings, and that happens to be the world I've created to work in. I don't have this
big work-life divide, I just have one very happy life, but I've crafted that. My downtime will be going through
independent high streets, replying to wonderful comments on my Instagram.
Really that's your downtown?
Well, I love it because I love this community and they really want to help me. They'll tell me about an
art gallery I need to go to, or they'll invite me to something, or they'll tell me a book to read. It's a
beautiful community. So, it's just a joy. As much as there's downtime having a glass of wine with family and
friends, or going to an art gallery or taking my new little puppy for a walk or all these sorts of things,
there's always an element of my, what some would call classically work in my life, and it makes me very happy.
You once said, it was a while ago, so I want to know whether you think this is still relevant, but you
said one day, I'm going to buy a holiday home in Ibiza, and I'm going to drink wine and ditch the business
suits, and I'm going to go totally boho. Question, is that still an ambition? Just asking.
My goodness. Doesn't that sound nice?
Maybe there was at a period of time in my life where I needed to escape. I had the work-life. Now
actually, I think that the caftans I wear anyway, because now I'm not in the suit and I'm not in the heels, I
wear caftans as my working wear. Actually, I sometimes look like I've lost Ibiza in my normal meeting. Actually,
no, that's not my ambition anymore. I think the day has come where I haven't got such a separated life.
The other thing you said, because I think where we met, we were on a panel together and yes, somebody
said, "Holly, what is it that drives you?" I'll never forget you say, "I want to prove my bloody teacher that
thought I was a thicker, wrong, and I also want to prove to my ex-husband... " Well, I don't know quite how you
put it, but it probably wasn't that polite.
I think that actually one of the burning things that can help people start businesses is thinking about
all the people that they want to prove wrong. Everyone has someone that they want to prove wrong, don't they?
Everyone. I actually think that when you have those low moments, thinking about a few people that you'd like to
sock it to, is actually a really great motivator. Now, it didn't last very long those feelings, but it does get
you off the starting block, thinking I'll show everybody. So, yes, it was-
I remember, it just rang so true with me because I remember one of the nuns at the convent of us that
called my mother in and said, "We don't think Annoushka should do A levels. In fact, if she does do an A level,
I'll... " She gets her A levels, "I'll jump out of the third floor window." I thought, right, game on.
Oh, gosh, I don't know how that story ends.
Tell you what, how it ends, is that the weird thing is about five years ago, I got a call saying, "Would
you become a governor of the school?" I thought it was somebody having a laugh. I just wished my mother was
around, because I was just like, there you are. You see?
There you go.
There you go.
There you go. Gosh, that's funny.
Anyway, Holly, it's been such a pleasure talking to you about your life in seven charms. Now, as I'm going
to make you one of these charms, and, I'd really like to know which one you'd like me to make for you.
My goodness, that is tough because I bet all your guests say the same, I'd like all of them please, but if
you're going to make me choose one, I think it would have to be where I found my passion in life, where I found
the rest of my life, and the calling I have, and that is Not on the High Street. Not on the High Street,
basically gave me the opportunity to really find out what my diamond was. So, it would have to be the tag,
because I would wear it with such pride.
That is something that Sophie and I created, that is the most unique business journey, and I'm so proud of
the small businesses who made it successful. I'm so proud of us never giving up and that charm, I will be an
heirloom for my family and I will give it to my son. Yeah, it will be a very special thing. That is the charm
that I would choose.
Well, I'm very excited about that, because I think it will be absolutely divine. I'm really glad you
didn't make me do the vegetable wreath.
Thank you so, so much to Holly for sharing her inspirational journey. This episode is the last in our
series. So, thank you to everyone for tuning in throughout. If you haven't had the chance, do check out the
other episodes, they're all available on Apple Podcast, Spotify and on all your favorite platforms. If you like
what you hear, please do leave a review and share it with your friends. It really helps us spread the word.
Thanks to Robin at MediaFairley for his audio production and to you for listening. See you soon for series two.