SOPHIE’S PASSION FOR FASHION GETS HER AHEAD IN BUSINESS
Turning a hobby into a business is a thought that occurs to many but the realities of making it happen are enough to deter most would-be entrepreneurs. However Cornish photographic art graduate Sophie King has done just that and thanks to a globally recognised business improvement methodology, her hair accessories are claiming a growing share of the international fashion market.
Sophie started creating handmade hair accessories for herself while she was studying at the University of Wales. Her eye-catching pieces were soon in demand amongst friends and shortly after graduating in 2010, Sophie launched her own business, Crown and Glory.
To help develop the business from a hobby into a fully-fledged enterprise, Sophie turned to Oxford Innovation for support under the Coaching for High Programme, funded by ERDF (European Regional Development Fund).
Oxford Innovation business coach Belinda Waldock worked with Sophie to develop a business plan for Crown and Glory. “I received fantastic support from Oxford Innovation, especially Belinda,” said Sophie. “It was such a daunting experience so the very practical support and the mentoring I received was really invaluable to me.”
With Crown and Glory established and already trading successfully, Belinda introduced Sophie to the concepts and principles of a methodology which enables businesses to improve their own systems and procedures and in so doing deliver a better quality of service to customers. Agile has its origins in the software industry but Oxford Innovation has adapted it for use across any sector under the banner, Agile Innovation.
As Belinda explains: “Agile is a highly effective methodology for planning and prioritising work especially in a fast-moving and growing business environment. Sophie’s personal profile and that of Crown and Glory have risen rapidly in the highly competitive fashion sector. Agile has been particularly useful in giving Sophie visibility of the bigger picture while retaining focus on the finer detail of design, production and logistics.”
Sophie found one Agile tool to be particularly helpful after recruiting her first member of staff, commenting: “The Agile wall planner came into its own once the team grew; it was no longer just me that needed to know the tasks and plans for that week, month, quarter and year ahead and using the wall planner was a great way for us to be able to see how the day-to-day tasks linked back into the bigger picture without the need for time-consuming meetings and progress reports. It also made it really easy to delegate and keep track of our progress over any given period. We both find that having the planner in a place of high-footfall in our office much more beneficial than having it tucked away in a folder on a computer or similar; we’re reminded of what we’re working on and towards every single day.”
Although still a relatively young business, Crown and Glory is already an internationally recognised brand having featured in magazines such as Teen Vogue, Grazia and Company and attracting celebrity fans such as pop stars Amelia Lily and Little Mix. Sophie has also worked with high street fashion chain Oasis and accessorised Italian designer Danillo Gabrielli’s Spring / Summer collection at London Fashion Week.
“Agile has fitted perfectly alongside my business,” said Sophie. “It has helped me manage growth by determining how and when to bring in additional support as well as keeping me in close contact with customers which in turn has enabled successful new product development. Having adopted Agile in the business I have no doubt I will continue to deploy it as we grow and diversify in the future.”