Fashion Inside Out: Five Minutes with the CEO of Fashion Enter Ltd Jenny Holloway
Q What time does your alarm go off?
J: 5am but I have a horse and new puppy of 8 weeks to sort out…total chaos!
Q What’s a typical day like for you?
J: Well, it’s not boring and it’s never the same! Day’s are totally varied – some days are more strategic working on new projects such as the Tailoring Academy or a new hush hush collection that we are working on.
Other days – like today, I am involved in production matters and quality control ensuring that our high standards of compliance and quality are always maintained. I hate poor standards and I hate under performing!
Monday’s is always a meeting day when we have WTM – Weekly Team Meetings with our four pillars of the company; Factory, FTA, Fashion Studio and Development. Mainly these are great meetings because we are all fired up as a team…sometimes its hard work because we all want to achieve and we just can’t make business work fast enough!
I have lots of external meetings with clients, new and existing, I travel to Leicester and Ireland a lot on seminars and workshops for the company, and I seem to do emails all time of the day and night!
Q Tell us about your career route, where did it all start for you?
J: Again random! I failed my 11 Plus and my father was horrified. I remember just thinking I am going to work my butt off to succeed at the local secondary modern and it was one rough school!
It was so rough we were not allowed to do O-Levels only CSEs but I had 8 Grade 1 CSEs. I was also so unpopular as I was the school swot!
Then went on to Dudley Technical College for an OND in business studies and did A-Levels on the side. I was awarded a Distinction at OND and went on to do a Business Studies BA where I gained a 2.1.
I actually don’t like clothes that much! I fell into my job at Littlewoods. I thought I was going for a job as a Marketing Assistant at Littlewoods in Old Hall Street in Liverpool but it was for Buying. I always remember Arthur Raley the Buying Director saying ‘Jenny, I know this is not Marketing but wouldn’t you like to have a company car and go travelling around the world?’ Who would say no to that!!! I was also a Junior Buyer and guess what Junior Buyers do not have a car and travel the world…they do lots of admin jobs!
I then went to M&S as a fast track selector and then on to Arcadia as a Senior Buyer for tailoring and soft separates. I then ventured into setting up my own business ‘Retro’ until some disreputable third party took our business away (mine and my husband’s) – that’s when I vowed never to be bothered about money again and that’s why we are a social enterprise.
I then worked for Government for a while at the ‘London Fashion Forum’, loved the job, I just helped people all day and I really wanted to support young designers and enable them to succeed.
Funding suddenly stopped so then opened Fashion Enter Ltd in 2006.
Q What key skills / attributes would you say are essential for this role?
J: Grit, sense of humour, persistence, absolute team builder (I genuinely love our team here), great on no sleep and high energy levels!!!
Q What is your most memorable work moment?
J: Too many to mention…honestly. I can’t answer that truthfully.
Q What is the worst part of the job?
J: Always watching cash flows, having one eye on the future, one eye on the present and an eye at the back of my head to make sure everyone is ok!
Q Best piece of advice you have been given?
J: ‘If you reach for the Sun you may reach the moon but if you only reach for the moon…’
Q Is there anyone in the fashion sector that you think is inspirational?
J: Yes, there’s a few – Caren Downie – I love this woman. She is iconic and an absolute master at her job.
Nick Beighton CEO ASOS.com – he is a cool dude and has his finger on all the pulses. I don’t know how he does it.
And Chris North, Principal at Permira, specialists in investment and growth. He has been my mentor since I won the Social Business Trust Award and he is super visionary. He get’s me and where we are as a business like no other person.
Q After work you like to…