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In conversation with Irene Agbontaen, founder of TTYA London

In this, the second of our two Inspiring Entrepreneurs interviews on Start-up Day, we meet and hear from Irene Agbontaen, founder of fashion brand TTYA London, in conversation with Anis Qizilbash.

Irene’s company TTYA - or Taller Than Your Average - is a fashion apparel brand for taller women, supplying a market that Irene - standing at 5’11’’ - knew was underserviced. TTYA launched in Selfridge’s in 2013, becoming their first tall-specific brand. TTYA has gone on to have a home in Barneys New York and was the first pioneering tall brand to debut on ASOS.com. Irene’s designs have been worn by major celebrities.

In this discussion Irene will be speaking about how she has navigated the industry and gone on to secure contracts with major stockists whilst keeping a very strong commitment to herself, her beliefs about inclusivity and to the essence of the business. There will also be lots of practical advice about how to truly be the face and voice of your brand, and how social media, e-commerce, endorsements and collaborations are all just as much a part of modern businesses as much as planning, accounting and sales.

Whether you are starting up in fashion, or another sector, you may find yourself being expected to change and conform to fit in with the establishment. Irene talks powerfully about her inner voice to resist this and how that, ultimately, has strengthened the business. For TTYA’s first catwalk show at Lagos Fashion Week in 2018 it was a team comprised solely of women of colour that went with her.

We all face a very challenging retail landscape in the light of the pandemic and changes in consumer spending. We’ll talk to Irene about how TTYA has faced this past year and what the future holds. Having played just a small role in TTYA’s story at the beginning, as Irene accessed stats on consumers from our market research databases to help progress her business, the BIPC is so happy to work with Irene again to inspire you as you begin your business now.

How to write your value proposition


London libraries are transforming the way ideas grow into successful businesses. By partnering with ten London boroughs, we are developing a community of new and existing business owners, which is free to join and open to everyone. Whether you are just setting out, need advice on protecting your intellectual property, or simply have a brilliant idea you want to discuss, we're here to guide you. Since April 2020, we have offered all of our Start-ups in London Libraries' services online, including our core workshops and virtual one-to-ones with our borough Business Champions, many of whom will be hosting sessions during Start-up Day. To find out more about Start-ups in London Libraries and how to join our thriving business community, visit bl.uk/SiLL.

Value propositions are incredibly valuable pieces of content, which allow you to communicate what your business is offering succinctly, and which can be used across marketing materials and pitches in the start-up stage of your business. Sarah Eschner, our SME Champion for Waltham Forest from the Start-ups in London Libraries programme will host this session where we will review how to incorporate all the important elements of your value proposition using a simple step-by-step process.

This masterclass will cover:
The purpose of a value propositionTools associated with a value proposition (value proposition canvas, business model canvas, profit model)The principles of a value propositionConcept of the ‘Core motivating value’An example scenario for how to write the statement.

Sources: Founders Institute, and L. Newey University of Queensland

Getting started and seen by your new customers

This session will help you think creatively to generate the visibility and traction to establish your new business in the market.

With thousands of new businesses launching every month and more information consumed around the clock than ever before, to get your start-up noticed, you will need to cut through the noise. We’re here to tell you that although it doesn’t necessarily require a large budget, it will require planning and the ability to seize the moment.

Karen Campbell from The Small Awards will be on hand to outline some tips to help you identify what are the special and differentiating factors about your business, how you can get these messages out, and, most important of all, how to ensure those messages get noticed.

The Small Awards showcase the variety and quality among small start-ups and Karen will be joined by Fran Gubbay, co-founder of Stamptastic, winners of Best Digital Business in 2019.

When you have a clear voice about what your business does and what it stands for, it increases your chance of being heard. 18 months ago Fran decided that they as co-founders, and their personalities, needed to feature more in their business, which led to news interviews, new leads and a couple of awards as well.

Listen in to learn some practical advice on how to make your own luck for exciting marketing opportunities.

If this session is of interest then do also look at the earlier free-to-watch presentation at 09:45 – 10:30 on the latest consumer trends from market research analyst Mintel. This can help underpin any marketing strategy you develop for your business.