THE PODCAST,
my life in seven charms
THE PODCAST,
my life in seven charms
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Holly Tucker

Entrepreneur, philanthropist, and UK Ambassador for Creative Small Businesses

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Annoushka Ducas:
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.

Annoushka Ducas:
Holly, I'm so excited to talk to you.

Holly Tucker:
Thank you. A pleasure to be here. Thank you for asking me.

Annoushka Ducas:
I was trying to work out when we first met, and I think it was about eight or 10 years ago?

Holly Tucker:
Yes, it's a little while ago now.

Annoushka Ducas:
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.

Holly Tucker:
What a nice welcome, my goodness. Thank you.

Annoushka Ducas:
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.

Annoushka Ducas:
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.

Holly Tucker:
Oh, gosh. Yes, please.

Annoushka Ducas:
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.

Holly Tucker:
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.

Annoushka Ducas:
Were your parents... Because you said that your father... Was he artistic as well as running-

Holly Tucker:
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.

Holly Tucker:
She actually used to create unusual Christmas trees, and actually, she built them. I think that that has come through. I always talk about-

Annoushka Ducas:
Do remember that? Do you remember it or is that something that was described to you?

Holly Tucker:
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.

Annoushka Ducas:
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.

Holly Tucker:
I do.

Annoushka Ducas:
I thought maybe an avocado cut in half.

Holly Tucker:
Why not?

Annoushka Ducas:
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?

Holly Tucker:
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.

Holly Tucker:
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 leaflets.
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 business.

Annoushka Ducas:
How did you find them?

Holly Tucker:
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.

Annoushka Ducas:
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 work at-

Holly Tucker:
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 small businesses.

Annoushka Ducas:
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.

Holly Tucker:
No, it didn't.

Annoushka Ducas:
Quite soon after or?

Holly Tucker:
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-

Annoushka Ducas:
Harry is your son-

Holly Tucker:
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.

Annoushka Ducas:
Yeah, slow down. Slow down, take it... Just tell me a little bit about how did that feel?

Holly Tucker:
I can't really remember much about that period anymore, because it was so much pain in so many ways.

Annoushka Ducas:
It's like childbirth, you forget.

Holly Tucker:
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.

Annoushka Ducas:
Well, it hasn't stopped you. Whatever it was, thank goodness, it hasn't stopped you.

Holly Tucker:
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.

Annoushka Ducas:
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.

Holly Tucker:
So do I.

Annoushka Ducas:
Now, tell us about Not on the High Street and this charm.

Holly Tucker:
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 sold books-

Annoushka Ducas:
Only books.

Holly Tucker:
... 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.

Annoushka Ducas:
Well, it makes everything possible-

Holly Tucker:
Everything.

Annoushka Ducas:
... 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.

Holly Tucker:
Absolutely. Yeah, we launched April, 2006.

Annoushka Ducas:
How did you fund it?

Holly Tucker:
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.

Annoushka Ducas:
Wow.

Holly Tucker:
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.

Annoushka Ducas:
That wasn't enough money to get to launch either, presumably, because the cost of the tech was-

Holly Tucker:
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-

Annoushka Ducas:
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?

Holly Tucker:
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."

Holly Tucker:
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."

Annoushka Ducas:
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?

Holly Tucker:
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.

Annoushka Ducas:
Because it's such a success.

Holly Tucker:
Yes, but we are 95% female partners, and that is just the way it's been. Yeah, it's just the way it is.

Annoushka Ducas:
What was the hardest thing about growing it? Because my goodness, everybody knew about it quite quickly, I think.

Holly Tucker:
Well, that's what people think. No one knew about it forever. My goodness.

Annoushka Ducas:
Not in your ever. Not in your ever.

Holly Tucker:
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.

Annoushka Ducas:
You've created this incredible success.

Holly Tucker:
Yes.

Annoushka Ducas:
But just tell me about, then what happened?

Holly Tucker:
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.

Annoushka Ducas:
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.

Holly Tucker:
Wow.

Annoushka Ducas:
It's got to be in white gold. It's got to be, all fully 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.

Holly Tucker:
Oh my goodness. Sounds beautiful.

Annoushka Ducas:
This is such a lovely concept. Now, why have you chosen the angel wings?

Holly Tucker:
Well, at the time that I was having my lowest point when I was younger, that I described-

Annoushka Ducas:
This is after your divorce, having been told you've got brain tumor.

Holly Tucker:
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.

Annoushka Ducas:
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?

Holly Tucker:
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.

Annoushka Ducas:
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?

Holly Tucker:
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.

Annoushka Ducas:
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.

Holly Tucker:
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 household.

Annoushka Ducas:
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?

Holly Tucker:
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.

Holly Tucker:
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-

Annoushka Ducas:
Am I right in thinking that you got married in COVID when you were allowed? Am I right of thinking that?

Holly Tucker:
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.

Annoushka Ducas:
What about Harry? Harry must've... Well, tell me how Harry felt about it?

Holly Tucker:
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.

Annoushka Ducas:
Which was what?

Holly Tucker:
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 just tremendous.

Annoushka Ducas:
I could see it... It's giving me goosebumps, actually.

Annoushka Ducas:
Your next charm is a diamond.

Holly Tucker:
Yes.

Annoushka Ducas:
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.

Holly Tucker:
Wow.

Annoushka Ducas:
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.

Holly Tucker:
That sounds delicious.

Annoushka Ducas:
Why a diamond? I'm diamonds all the way, but why-

Holly Tucker:
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-

Annoushka Ducas:
Hold on, are you still involved in Not on the High Street?

Holly Tucker:
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 businesses.

Holly Tucker:
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.

Holly Tucker:
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.

Annoushka Ducas:
Holly, how are you going to find the people's diamond? How'd you find it in each person?

Holly Tucker:
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.

Annoushka Ducas:
That's what Holly & Co is about.

Holly Tucker:
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.

Annoushka Ducas:
Onto your sixth charm, hummingbird.

Holly Tucker:
Yes.

Annoushka Ducas:
I think it's got to be in a golden cage, hasn't it? With the door open.

Holly Tucker:
Beautiful.

Annoushka Ducas:
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-

Holly Tucker:
Flutter.

Annoushka Ducas:
In jewelry, you called it [french 00:35:35] which is when you get something to actually move.

Holly Tucker:
Oh, wow.

Annoushka Ducas:
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.

Holly Tucker:
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.

Annoushka Ducas:
Yes.

Holly Tucker:
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.

Holly Tucker:
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.

Annoushka Ducas:
Well, that's a very good explanation of why the hummingbird.

Holly Tucker:
Yes.

Annoushka Ducas:
I think it describes you absolutely to perfect, actually. I really do.

Holly Tucker:
Well, thank you. My goodness.

Annoushka Ducas:
Now your last charm, it's a megaphone. What would Frank say about that?

Holly Tucker:
He said, that's right, it is a megaphone. That's the megaphone she talks to me with all day long. Yes.

Annoushka Ducas:
A megaphone is just such a divine little... It would be so adorable in miniature.

Holly Tucker:
Yes.

Annoushka Ducas:
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 medium enterprise.

Holly Tucker:
Yes.

Annoushka Ducas:
What Holly & Co is all about.

Holly Tucker:
Yes.

Annoushka Ducas:
Am I right?

Holly Tucker:
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.

Holly Tucker:
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.

Annoushka Ducas:
Well, judging by your Instagram, you're doing an absolutely unbelievable job.

Holly Tucker:
Thank you.

Annoushka Ducas:
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?

Holly Tucker:
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.

Annoushka Ducas:
Really that's your downtown?

Holly Tucker:
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.

Annoushka Ducas:
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.

Holly Tucker:
My goodness. Doesn't that sound nice?

Annoushka Ducas:
Yes.

Holly Tucker:
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.

Annoushka Ducas:
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.

Holly Tucker:
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-

Annoushka Ducas:
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.

Holly Tucker:
Oh, gosh, I don't know how that story ends.

Annoushka Ducas:
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?

Holly Tucker:
There you go.

Annoushka Ducas:
There you go.

Holly Tucker:
There you go. Gosh, that's funny.

Annoushka Ducas:
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.


Holly Tucker:
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.

Annoushka Ducas:
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.

Annoushka Ducas:
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.


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