This week I chatted to Hannah Rouch who started her career in fashion and beauty journalism at The Sunday Telegraph's Stella Magazine. She then went onto become the Fashion and Beauty Editor of Red Online. In October 2011 she launched her own online site StyleNest.
EG: Can you tell us some more about StyleNest? How you were inspired and when did it all start?
HR: I'm at the age where many of my friends are having babies. Many found they lost confidence post-pregnancy with their style and came to me for style advice and quick-fix beauty tips. The more they asked, the more I realised that there was no website for mums that focused on the mum herself, her needs as a woman not just as a parent.
When I launched StyleNest back in October the tag line was The Online Luxury Magazine for mums. The idea was never to compete with parenting sites and giants such as Mumsnet but to focus on the mum herself as a woman. Essentially, pre-baby she was interested in fashion, style and beauty and liked to travel to luxury hotels. This doesn't have to change when you become a mum; it's just a question of adapting these slightly to fit your new lifestyle.
So, I wanted to create a stylish, one-stop-shop where mums could get a little advice for themselves, find great ideas and clothes for the kids and pick up a delicious family friendly recipe all in one visit. Mums are always juggling a million things at once so it was important to me to create a site that was easy to use and navigate. We aim to make the modern mum's life a little easier.
Seven months after launch however we have seen a real growth in our readers who aren't necessarily mums but are between 28-45. They may be aunts, have friends who have children or be thinking of starting a family soon, but are looking for wearable fashion advice, practical beauty tips, recipe ideas etc. So our new tag line, which I thinks sums us up very well is: Fashion.Family.Lifestyle - The Destination For The Modern Woman.
EG: What's your favourite part about having your own business?
HR: It's incredibly exciting. There is no denying the hard work involved but seeing something grow from conception is incredibly rewarding. Every day brings new challenges but that is part of the excitement. One area I have truly loved is building a great team and brand which we will hopefully continue to grow.
EG: What obstacles did you face along the way?
HR: I think the hardest part of the journey so far was making the decision go for it. There are so many well-established, successful content sites out there with big publishers behind them. We are a small team of three and had no idea if people would like our site or not. It was a risk but I am so glad we took it.
One thing I would say is always trust your gut instinct and seek as many opinions as possible.
EG: What advice can you give young entrepreneurs who want to start something but worry about how to get started?
HR: Business Plans are arduous and time consuming but if a business is worth launching you will only find out through going through this process. Working on your business plan is essential and will allow you to really see if you have a viable and successful business on your hands.
Keep your model as lean as possible. There will always be unforeseen costs so it's important to keep your outgoings as lean as possible.
Ask as many friends and family as possible what they think about your idea. Listen to the people who offer criticism. They may have spotted something you are yet to see. This doesn't mean your plan won't succeed but you will be prepared for all eventualities.
Finally research. Read everything you can about competitors and the industry you are launching your business into. You can never be too prepared.
EG: What are your goals for the next year or so?
HR: It hasn't yet been a year since we launched StyleNest but we are already beginning work on a sister site - TheStyleStreet.com. I can't say too much about it at this stage but I think we have another exciting year ahead.
We've just been nominated for a big industry award which is very exciting. But most importantly I hope we continue to grow, gain more followers and readers and build upon the brand we started last October. It's been an exciting, rollercoaster of a year but also an incredibly enjoyable one. Starting out on your own is definitely something I would highly recommend. The work is hard but the rewards by far outway any of the stressful moments.
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