What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at Joyce Young By Storm?
By Storm has been established for 21 years. I could write a book on the highs and lows. Business is one big roller coaster. You have to be brave and determined and hang on in there when the scary bits come along.
No business is ever plain sailing but all the challenges give you experience and empathy with others which gives you "longer legs for bigger strides" (well only in a manner of speaking mine are actually pretty short !) As my brother once said to me "if it doesn't kill you it's good for you!"
The biggest highlight has to be being awarded an OBE for services to textiles. That was so unexpected and such a great honour. Opening the new store in London has been the second highlight this year. There have been lots of highlights sometimes they come along quite unexpectedly and that's what keeps us going when the challenges come along. Happy customers, thank you letters and photographs are constant highlights.
What advice can you offer to women who want to start their own business?
Research your market thoroughly. It's so important to understand the competition and know what your point of difference is. Ask yourself if you are prepared to work very long hours, give up holidays, go without a pay to make your business a success. Make sure you have a business plan even if you don't need to secure finance. Thinking it all out and doing the projections is vital. A good idea alone isn't enough.
Ingredients for success are talent, confidence, determination and a hard work ethic. A good support team of friends and family is a big help when starting a new venture.
What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in your career to date?
No one person can do everything. Everything happens through good teamwork each person being a cog in the wheel. Good communication is everything. I see the director as being like a good conductor. The business is the orchestra and with a good conductor beautiful music comes out.
How do you maintain a work/life balance?
Not the right person to ask. I run a business no one said I was perfect! My husband Maurice and I run the business together. We literally live and breathe it 24/7. Our business and social life are mixed together. We can do this as our families are grown up and we can make our own times we don't have to rush home for anybody. However now we have grandchildren we need to free up some time to spend more time with them. Working on it!
What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
Having children. Until men have babies there will never really be true equality. I think women tend to be riddled with guilt. If you are a business type when you are at home with babies and children you feel you should be working and if you are at work you feel guilty leaving the children at nursery or with nannies. It's still usually the mum that the school phones if there is a problem.
How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
I don't really have any business mentors. When I was a designer at Bairdwear the company subscribed to a programme Towards Excellence by Lou Tice. It was all about personal and business development and I embraced it wholeheartedly. It came along at the right time for me. That was a bit of a life changer. I became more confident all round. I later followed Jack Black and enjoyed his personal development programmes for Mindstore. When I think about it in actual fact my husband it my mentor.
Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
Aung San Suu Kyi the Burmese politician and chairperson of the National League for democracy who remained under house arrest in Burma for 15 years. She has never given up fighting for her beliefs through the injustice of being imprisoned in her home but through everything she keeps her femininity and composure.
What do you want Joyce Young By Storm to accomplish in the next year?
Having just opened a beautiful new shop in Belsize park in North London we are now embarking on moving our Glasgow shop (the lease is over after 21 years and the landlord wanted to put the rent up by 75%) to the unit that we have beside our factory.
We will have to completely renovate the inside and decorate to a high standard. It makes sense to have the shop and factory together but there will be considerable disruption until all the work is complete. This will give us a lot of extra space. Therefore next year will be all about promoting our new stores in Glasgow and London.