Something you may not know about me, is how passionate I am about the stories behind robust companies and brands. It is something I can't help, I just need to know what's the story behind every successful entrepreneur's empire.
This is due to the time I spent as Communications Director at The CEO Magazine. I spent 8 hours a day talking to successful FT500 CEOs from a variety of industries, from manufacturing to retail & fashion, and I had the pleasure of interviewing people like Daniel Grieder, CEO of Tommy Hilfiger (currently CEO at PVH– its mother company) or Georges Kern (CEO Breitling)– who by the way has a very talented daughter who shares her Opera-singing-journey on instagram (@isabellekern).
But trust me, the interview you are about to read has nothing to envy those of Breitling and Tommy Hilfiger.
In January I managed to get an interview with one of the female CEOs I admire the most: Jade Holland Cooper, founder of Holland Cooper, and before jumping into my Q&A with Jade, I must share some "behind the scene" details, which will allow you to understand why this is such a special interview:
I have followed Jade for ages now, and even before I started with @myshootingjourney, I was already impressed by how she shared her own journey as a designer. It is very smart to see how she counts with the opinion of her followers before launching a new product. In my opinion one of the reasons why Holland Cooper is such a successful brand, is because Jade really takes her follower's feedback into consideration and it is a great example of why interacting with followers is so important.
Above anything else, her country style is immaculate and when she says it is "all about the details" you just need to look at the buttons, the fabrics and even the labels in all her clothes. Holland Cooper clothes smell of quality, their touch is special and she really transmits her passion to all of us who wear the brand. Aren't we all proud of wearing it? I just love it when people stop me and ask where I bought my HC jackets.
Jade recently had a baby and days after giving birth, you could still go on her insta-stories where she would announce the launch of new jackets, wellies, gloves etc... none of the hundreds of CEOs I worked during my time at The CEO Magazine worked the day after giving birth, so... RESPECT.
The fact that she still took the time for this interview, while on maternity leave, makes it very special to me and I am forever grateful, so when you read it, I hope you understand how passionate she is about her brand...
I had lots of help from her team too as it is not easy to coordinate Jade's agenda, and the fact that they are all so nice, kind and helpful, tells me how great it must be to work for her. I collaborate with many brands in the country wear industry and her team really is amazing and understand the importance of long term relationships with influencers, so a big shoutout to all of them!
As Rebecca May stated in her 10 years of Holland Cooper interview, Jade grew up on a farm in Suffolk where her father worked 20-hour days running a large arable operation and her mother – designing from a studio on site – ran a small couture business serving international clientele.
The brand is now estimated to be worth in excess of £20 M, and here is Jade's inspiring story:
A: Why did you start Holland Cooper?
J: After spotting a gap in the market for more fashionable country wear, I left University after a year to take the leap and it has been a rollercoaster ride but one I feel so lucky to be on. I started with a tiny stand at Badminton Horse Trials, selling tweed miniskirts. I found a machinist in Ipswich who made my first set of skirts. Then I continued to book more and more shows, make more skirts and from here I built Holland Cooper into what it is today.
A: Who inspires you in your designs?
J: My mother is a couture designer and has designed outfits for the likes of Elton John and Rod Stewart. She is my muse, immensely stylish and has been an inspiration of mine since the beginning of Holland Cooper.
A: Tailoring is made in England. How difficult was it for you to find good suppliers there with the great offering there is in a globalised industry like this?
J: I have always remained true to our ethos of British Made tailoring. Holland Cooper are one of the biggest buyers of British wool and we champion UK manufacturers. As the demand for Holland Cooper has grown and the collections have diversified, it is essential the business remains commercial and thus, we have expanded our manufacturing base, I am immensely proud of our craftsman, factories and partners overseas who complement our forever partners in the UK.
A: One of the things that make people buy your clothes, apart from seeing them before they are available on your insta and how great they look on you, it is the exclusivity within the brand, so how many pieces do you manufacture for each collection of jackets and coats for example?
J: Firstly, thank you so much- I love promoting products on my own Instagram feed, as it allows me to connect with my followers on a personal level. In terms of how many pieces, this depends on the collection and what the customer wants to see. I am always listening to my followers and thinking about what they want/need from a collection and I design with that at the forefront.
A: What are the top 5 things to make a brand successful?
J: The most successful entrepreneurs I know are optimistic, it is a key part of the job description, that and determination. I always ensure I am thinking about what my customer wants and needs, making sure everything I do makes sense for the brand. It is also important to make sure to look after your suppliers, these relationships are key to growing a successful business and to always remember you never stop learning, you never stop growing and will never know it all.
A: You are a female entrepreneur, now a mother, and owner of Holland Cooper, how do you manage to still be so successful? Any secret formula for time management?
J: Since Covid, I have focussed on Instagram more than ever, promoting products on my feed. This personal connection with my loyal followers has seen sales of the website go up by 150% and products selling out within 3 weeks year on year.
The only negative I suppose is the fact you are always ‘on’ and this can become addictive and although Instagram is a fantastic medium to promote and engage with customers, it is important to allow yourself time to step away - recharge and relax.
Since having Saphaïa I have been able to continue connecting with my customers via Instagram, whilst still enjoying the family time at home and I think it’s so important to cherish those moments.
A: We see HC works with a selected group of influencers, when working with them, what do you look for in order to achieve successful collaborations?
J: At Holland Cooper we have a democratic approach to selection and work with many different models, influencers and talent. We try to offer a style and aesthetic, one that complements the HC collections.
A: You went form small fairs to having a beautiful spot at Harrods, where will we see the brand in the next 5 years?
J: I am an internal optimist. I am always looking to the future and continuing to expand the Holland Cooper brand, adding new collections, products, the opportunities are simply endless.
A: You have launched a new sports line. We see this is a global trend where after COVID there has been a boom in sports and loungewear. Why did HC decide to launch HC Studio? Is this a one off or is this something we will continue seeing in your online shop? .
J: It is definitely not a one-off. I design for the Holland Cooper woman and I want there to be something in her wardrobe for every occasion from chic city tailoring to countryside classics and stylish athleisure wear so Holland Cooper will become an all-encompassing lifestyle brand.
Thank you so much Jade for taking the time, for being so inspiring and congratulations on having little Saphaïa, the cutest baby we've seen on insta! She is very lucky to have such amazing and inspiring parents and we hope to see some baby HC clothes soon! ;)
If you want to see the full Holland Cooper collection, visit www.hollandcooper.com