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.
High streets are the beating heart of our local communities. Having a presence on the high street gives businesses a unique opportunity to connect with their customers, and the responsibility to meet their needs as these change and evolve. What additional service could you offer to those who interact with your brand in person? What extra impact could you generate by sharing your spaces with neighbours and fellow makers?
We have brought together a panel of three loved and respected local businesses, our high street heroes. Their founders will share practical tips through their inspiring stories and tell us more about their individual journeys.
Mary Otumahana, award-winning musician and founder of The RecordShop; a grassroots independent organisation based in Wood Green, that focuses on making an impact with a multipurpose music space located on the high street. By providing access to a recording studio and music career training, Mary is leading a mission to educate, inform and inspire inner-city youths to connect to their community through music.Hellen Stirling-Baker, founder of children’s store, Small Stuff, has led her business from an experimental pop-up shop to a successful, eco-friendly bricks and clicks model at the heart of her high street in Crookes, Sheffield. A perfect example that being a small shop doesn’t mean you can’t have big values; Hellen is a local leader who champions ethical suppliers and supports other retailers, often sharing her shop for community-building events. Hellen is the deserved winner of this year’s High Street Hero for the Small Awards 2022.Carolynn Bain, founder of Afori Books, the first Black-owned bookshop in Brighton. Carolynn almost did the opposite of most during the pandemic; inspired to stock only Black authors in response to the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, she started her business as an online shop. Demand was so high however, that Afrori Books was approached to open a physical bookshop in Lighthouse, a local Arts-based charity, with fit-out costs successfully crowdfunded.
We are running this event with the British Independent Retailers Association (BIRA) who are also champions of high street businesses and are here to help, all year round.
Business & IP Centre Northamptonshire is hosting an open conversation exploring social enterprise, mental health and wellbeing, and environmental sustainability. Is it really possible to make money and do good at the same time?
Join Barry Crisp from BIPC Northamptonshire to find out, as he discusses the topic with Agi Brodzinski (Jolibi), Ali Mitchell (Wildflowers), Ben Francoise (Saints Coffee) and Salma Shah (Granola by Salma Shah).
Join BIPC London’s intellectual property information expert, Jeremy O’Hare, for this introduction to intellectual property.
An understanding of intellectual property and its protection is vital for anyone with an idea, whether it’s an invention, a brand name or a song. This online webinar will introduce the four areas of intellectual property and help you understand which may apply to you and your business.
These four main areas are:
PatentsTrade MarksRegistered designsCopyright
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.
Running your own business can give you greater control over when you work and how you do things, but it’s not easy finding the right balance between work and personal commitments.
Join award-winning social entrepreneur, Dr. Yuliana Topazly, to hear about her story and learn some tips about how best to manage your work/life balance.
This session is particularly beneficial for parents with start-up businesses who are currently balancing responsibilities in multiple arenas during these challenging times.