How Jane Porter went from a studio flat to Shangri-La

HOW I BEAT THE ODDS: The entrepreneur's uniform design business Studio 104 now turns over more than £1m.

by Kate Bassett

My light bulb moment happened in South Africa. My fiance and I had just checked into a hotel in Johannesburg and the bellboy came to the door with our bags. The room was five-star, the service was five-star but the bellboy's outfit was off-the-scale hideous. There was the idea for my new business: I'd design stylish uniforms for luxury hotels.

I flew home, quit my job as a fashion buyer for Sweaty Betty, bought a round-the-world ticket and spent the next three months quizzing hotel managers. They were all crying out for a decent uniform supplier.

I started the business from my kitchen table in March 2010 and named it Studio 104, after the number of our studio flat in London. I made sample uniforms, organised a photoshoot and created a catalogue and website. Then I paid a clever SEO guy £100 to get Studio 104 to the top of Google. Within a week, I had an enquiry from JP Morgan. It had just got a new head office in Canary Wharf and wanted someone to kit out its security guards and back-office staff. My jaw hit the floor.

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