Last Wednesday was a big night for me and my partner Sophie Cornish as we won the entrepreneur of the year category at the Specsavers everywoman in retail awards. It’s not our first award – we’ve been lucky enough to win 11 awards in three years. I must admit I have two favourites. Firstly, inclusion on MT’s 35 under 35 was a momentous personal achievement for me – and I’m not just saying that. I had followed the coverage of it for seven years, dreaming of being in it. And then to be recognised as entrepreneur of the year at the everywoman in retail awards last week was amazing, especially as we work closely with so many women.
Friday was also a significant day for us as we migrated the site to a revolutionary new platform, Ruby on Rails. It was no small task: our technical director has spent 14 months developing it and the move itself involves the migration of 1,500 partners and the details of every single transaction that’s ever taken place on the site. This is the biggest back-office thing that we’ve ever done at notonthehighstreet, and to be honest it’s been a constant drain. But now it’s up and running it will give us the flexibility to scale to £30m turnover in the next couple of years, which is far from impossible – we’re currently growing at an average of 260% month on month.
At the weekends, my partner – who also works very long hours – and I devote all our time to our son. We basically become ‘intense parents’ for 48 hours as we try to resolve all guilt that we haven’t spent any time with him for the last five days. Every Sunday morning we go on a three-hour walk, in the middle of which we stuff our face with burgers from the farmers market. We’ve done it religiously since the third week after Harry was born, so for four and half years we have walked the same route every single Sunday morning.
Then it was back to the office Monday meeting to discuss plans for a bespoke Christmas tree we are making to raise money for Save the Children. Every year high-end brands donate a tree to be auctioned off at the charity’s most prestigious annual event at the Natural History Museum. Past donors of trees have included Harrods, Stella McCartney and Tiffany & Co, so it’s very exciting to have been asked to take part. We’ve got this huge wooden sculpture being created that we’re packing with tons of notonthehighstreet gifts, which will then be auctioned on the night. With over 30,000 products on the site, we have lots to choose from!
The next day we had final sign-off of our Christmas catalogue – we are printing more than 500,000, which is over double last year. And this will signal a move from three catalogues this year to six catalogues next year. Then that evening I was on the judging panel of the Startups Awards, where I met some amazing and inspiring people. Afterwards it was on to a fellow entrepreneur’s party to mark the third birthday of his business. Being there made me realise that I definitely need to get out more! There must have been hundreds of people there and they were all so cool; I felt very unhip.
Sometimes I just I wish I had the life of a 30-year old male with no commitments, running a dotcom company. But I’m not. The next morning I had a bit of a sore head and I had to do the school run. But there’s no better hangover cure than having to walk into a playground full of mums...