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Published: 01-09-2017

Road to Success Header

Road to Success

The road to success is rarely paved with pure gold. Look closely at some of the world's biggest businesses and you'll usually find traces of rejection, failure, and disappointment - all of which eventually led to greatness. We asked seven bright entrepreneurs to tell us their stories and their vices, and reveal the secrets behind their successes (and failures). Everyone has a different story, but they all share a common trait: they're determined to live the dream. Find out how they've done it.


Ross Barr-Hoyland

Determined to turn the UK consumer away from fast fashion and back to quality 100% British-made clothing, Ross Barr-Hoyland launched his luxury men's knitwear brand, Ross Barr. He has a soft spot for Britney Spears, and his down time is spent binge-watching Murder She Wrote. In 2017, Attitude Magazine named him the 57th most eligible bachelor in the world. "For a very long time during my adolescence, I seriously considered entering the church. I was very close to my local vicar (one of the first female vicars), and always knew I wanted to help people in some capacity. "In the world of business, you have many setbacks, but I always listen to something I heard Anna Wintour (Editor-in-Chief for Vogue Magazine) say at a conference in York last year: you must own your failures, and the true test of any success is turning those setbacks into a success.

"The fashion industry is a beautiful industry to be part of, but it is hard. It's important to be yourself and to be true to yourself. Believe in what you do and be passionate about it because, in the hard times, it's that passion that will sustain you and keep you going. Also, always remain humble. Be prepared to help others out the way you have been helped.

"My daily session of winding down involves walking my puppy, which helps me clear my head. The fact she is also incredibly cute allows her to get away with murder!"


Rachel Carrell

A frustration with expensive and low-quality childcare led Rachel Carrell to create Koru Kids, an innovative and cost-effective nanny share company. She lives off Pret A Manger food and saw Clueless at the cinema no less than 7 times back in 1995.

"As a small child, I read a lot and wanted to be a writer. Later, at school, I decided I wanted to go into business. I always knew I would be an entrepreneur. After university, I worked as a management consultant, then became CEO of an online doctor business which I built to 1.3 million patients. While doing that job, I had a baby, and realised that my true passion was to work on improving childcare. So, I quit my job and founded Koru Kids.

"It's great building a service that is making families happy every day. When we do our best work, we bring joy into people's homes. We've had a lot of minor setbacks, but we've always found ways around them.

"I don't sweat the small stuff - and almost everything is small stuff. It helps a lot to frame things as learning experiences. The best reaction to a disaster is say 'how fascinating! What can we learn from this, what can we do differently in future?'. If you have this mindset, you can cope with a lot of things.

"My team are big believers in WhatsApp, and I also use post-it notes for everything! Heaven to me is a big bag of fish and chips, wrapped in newsprint, and eaten on the beach with a bottle of Prosecco."


Martha Currie

CEO and co-founder of Mable Therapy, a speech and language therapy organisation, Martha Currie cites hard work, dedication, and surrounding yourself with amazing people as the key to success. Her favourite film is Apocalypse Now, and when it comes to her morning ritual, she's more crumpets and tea than cardio and protein shakes.

"At age nine, I wrote in an essay that I wanted to be an intellectual when I grew up, which my teacher found amusing. I didn't know what that meant, but just liked the sound of it!

"Today, connecting with children and young people is the most amazing part of what I do. Some of them have had very difficult lives, so watching them smile and forget about the world for half an hour means so much.

"Starting a business is the best thing you could ever do. The highs are high, the lows are low, and it's always going to be stressful. The successful companies are the ones able to deal with stress in a positive way.

"Coffee, my team, and my phone are the three main things that get me through my working day, and I like to follow Elon Musk on social media, who created PayPal, Tesla Motors, Space X, and Hyperloop."


Tom Lovelace

Tom Lovelace is the man behind Hawthorn, one of the UK's leading fashion manufacturers. When he's not travelling the globe, drinking tea, and avoiding social media, he tries his best to unwind by listening to Frank Sinatra or watching a movie.

"As a child, I had a fascination with Ancient Egypt and wanted to become an archaeologist. However, after discovering the film Wall Street in my teens, I decided I really wanted to become a stock broker!

"My business partner and I had a clothing brand, and we were struggling with the same old problems - mainly high order quantities and poor quality. By starting Hawthorn, we aimed to change that, and have had a steady growth since.

"Our biggest challenge was when we moved our production facility from Istanbul to Sialkot - it was a logistical nightmare, and maintaining efficient production throughout was challenging. Having owned a clothing brand ourselves, it's great to be able to assist in the development of the industry and to see new brands flourish.

"My great uncle once told me 'in a year from now, you'll wish you started today'. I try to think about that if I'm having trouble with a decision, and it's worked well so far. Everyone needs to start somewhere! You don't need the biggest brand straight away - just a few items is a step in the right direction. Utilising free marketing avenues such as Instagram is a great strategy in the modern age.

"Being an entrepreneur, it's hard to switch off, however I do try to relax in the evenings with a film or TV series. My favourite film would have to be The Great Gatsby."


Sam Marley

Rejection from investors wasn't enough to crush Sam Marley's spirit, and event photo-sharing company Blurr was born. After all, as Sam himself says, you've just got to keep swinging the bat and eventually you'll hit something...

"I changed my mind everyday about what I wanted to be when I grew up, and still do now! The common theme is that I have to be borderline obsessed with an idea to consider pursuing it seriously.

"The best thing about what I do is being able to interact, collaborate, and even compete with the smartest and most engaging people I've ever met. Whether that's internal people within the company or other founders of our competitors, or business partners, the buzz and level of fulfilment I get from being able to create, build, and grow a business with these people is incredible.

"If you're interested in my line of work, constantly ask yourself questions as to why things are done the way they're done until you find something you think you can improve. Then build or implement a solution.

"Music, Slack, and other people get me through my working hours, and I unwind by running, socialising with friends, and occasionally reading a book. My favourite movie at the moment is Wedding Crashers, as I watched it with some friends before attending a wedding where we didn't know anyone else!"


The unique relationship she has with her eldest daughter led Michelle McHale to launch Attachment Parenting UK, a non-profit company specialising in educating others on the well-being of children. She doesn't believe in routines, and likes to unwind by watching Lost in Translation with sugar-free treats from The Raw Chocolate Pie Company.

"I wanted to be a vet until I did work experience and had to hold a dog's testicles in my hand - it didn't seem such a cute and fluffy option after that! My big break was the arrival of my eldest daughter who was ultra-attached - it took me a while to understand why, and the experience helped me to discover attachment theory.

"Years later, my daughter was diagnosed with two rare heart defects - which explained so many of the challenges we went through. It all helped me to become less judgemental and more open-minded to other parenting techniques.

"Your passion has to be heart-led, and you need to be willing to not take things personally - parenting is a sensitive topic, and as carefully as you tread you'll discover some intense feelings being directed at you. I can't get through the day without my iMac, Pukka Tea, and my 'work pen' - a broken-fin dolphin-shaped biro I stole from my seven-year-old daughter!"


Rebecca Newenham

A need to balance a flexible career with family life led Rebecca Newenham to start her virtual assistant business, Get Ahead VA, in 2010. She hasn't looked back since. To unwind, she frequents her local wine boutique to explore the wonderful world of flavoured gin.

"For quite a while, I wanted to be an undercover detective. I loved the idea of knowing what was going on whilst others didn't and keeping all those secrets. It seemed much more exciting than everyday life!

"I started Get Ahead VA back in 2010, as I wanted to use the skills I had gained from my corporate buying career, while being able to attend netball matches for my three daughters.

"I love getting to know our clients and watching them and their businesses succeed. Every time we receive a positive testimonial from a client it's a massive highlight - knowing that we have made a real difference to their business. With the presence of sites like Fiver, some people do really seem to think you can get something for nothing. I am a firm believer that you get what you pay for. All of my team of virtual assistants are highly experienced.

"My clients pay more than a fiver, and they still get excellent value for money from services that make a real difference to their business. For inspiration, I follow as I find their content really useful - both for myself as a business owner and for many of our clients."

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