Interview – Nayna McIntosh Founder & CEO Hope Fashion
Lucy and I had the most amazing day at the first 30-40+ Blogger Meet in London last week, Lucy has already posted about the day and the incredible people we met read it here. Our highlight was being privileged enough to interview Nayna McIntosh, CEO of Hope Fashion, an up and coming innovative fashion brand for women of all ages, shapes and sizes. What a truly inspirational woman Nayna is.
Nayna has been in retail since the age of 12, when she worked with her Mum on a market stall. She went on to have a 30 year career in the retail industry, including 9 years at Marks & Spencer, including being a part of the launch team for Peruna in 2001. Nayna also worked on launching the Asda George brand, was at Next previous to that and undertook her management training with M & S – a very rich and successful background indeed. In fact, with those credentials Nayna could have worked for any of the major fashion brands, so what made her take the major and very risky step of starting her own fashion brand?
In her words “I felt in grave danger of becoming a lifer“, which Nayna went onto explain to us, was simply not her ambition. When Nayna hit her 50’s, she knew she wanted to do something different and work in a very different way to how she had worked in the corporate sector. “I genuinely felt, I’m more than half way through at 50, the rest has to be good”, “you have to listen to your inner voice and follow your instinct“.
Nayna explained she’d had 30 years of loving her work life but in September 2013 she took the courageous step of leaving her job at M & S. She gave herself time reading, researching and reflecting and listened to her trusted colleague and friend, Rachel Bishop from Fluorescent PR, who now manages the PR for Hope Fashion.
It was extremely important for Nayna to include within her business the values she feels so passionately about “family, love, trust and integrity”, all of which resonate deeply with Lucy and I, as does the feeling of knowing we want to do something different now are children are grown and away from home and we have more time to do things for ourselves.
We’ve become astutely aware that many women in their late 40’s and early 50’s seem to have an epiphany about how they are going to spend their later years. Nayna’s story is one of these and also proves if you set your mind to something, it can be done. (You may like to read Lucy’s blog where she talks about how she has Survived Empty Nest Syndrome.)
We asked Nayna her 3 key pieces of advice for other women who may be looking to change direction in life or even start a new career:-
- Follow your instinct – it’s normally right
- If you can, give yourself the gift of time (to really understand what it is you want to do)
- Go back to what’s important to you – what are your values
Hopefully the above section has hit a nerve with some of you and given you the inspiration and drive to take that step towards starting something you’ve always wanted to do, it doesn’t need to be a new career, it could be a hobby, volunteering or like us, starting your own blog!
Now on to Hope Fashion UK and how Nayna has used her vision and values to create a unique shopping experience for women.
ALL ABOUT HOPE FASHION
Hope is a British womenswear label designed to empower and inspire women 45+ who have become invisible to the high street and online retailers. Hope Fashion is a brand which celebrates women, no matter their shape or size, with the aim of making the shopping experience both easy and pleasurable.
Did you know the 45+ women demographic is responsible for over HALF the spend of the total womenswear market? Yet there are very few fashion brands specifically aimed at our market! Which is another reason Hope is so inspirational, I certainly came away feeling they have created a fantastic concept, not only with the clothing but with the business strategy too, here’s a few reasons why.
Hope Fashion Innovative Design
The most surprising feature of the Hope Fashion collection is they DON’T use sizing, in the traditional way we are used to. WHY? Because as Nayna explained, there is no industry standard to clothing sizes. I know personally in one high street retailer I can buy a size 10 (which is generally on the large size for me) and two doors up I have to purchase a size 14 (which can be on the tight side).
If like me you have experienced this huge sizing difference whilst out shopping, you may also have come away feeling the same way I often do, rather deflated, upset and lacking confidence because you’ve had to buy a garment with a label stating you are a larger size than you think you are. In fact, we heard stories at the 30-40+ Blogger Meet of some women who simply will not buy an item of clothing, no matter how much they like it, if they have to buy it in what is labelled as a larger size than their norm!
This is one of the reasons why Hope Fashion decided to do things differently. They know women want to experience personal service and feel good about what they are buying and as part of this they size their range by body shape, rather than standard sizing. They also use innovative materials which mean certain items in their collection can fit from a size 8-14 or 16-20. This is what they call FREE SIZING and personally I think it’s inspired! It’s not about your size, it’s about feeling comfortable and confident in the clothes you are wearing, by creating your best ever silhouette and Hope Fashion truly understand this.
How Does Hope Fashion Sizing Work
Hope Fashion aim to fit women who are a UK dress
size 8-20 the majority of their collection is in 3 sizes;
– Freesize: to fit sizes 8-20
– Dual Slim: to fit sizes 8-14
– Dual Curvy: to fit sizes 16-20
For trousers they offer 4 different options;
– Super slim: to fit size 8
– Slim: to fit sizes 10-12
– Curvy: to fit sizes 14-16
– Super curvy: to fit sizes 18-20
To top off their innovative sizing solution, they also offer two lengths in their foundation and dress ranges, and have a free alteration service for trousers. The aim is for Hope sizing to allow you flexibility on how to wear each piece of clothing – how it sits on your body, how long or short you’d like to wear it… the choice is yours.
Hope Fashion – Made in Britain (and Italy)
The next design strategy I LOVED was how much time and effort had been put in to sourcing the materials their clothes are made from. Hope are passionate about supporting British manufacturing, with almost 60% of the collection bearing labels “Made in Britain”, with the remainder using experience, knowledge and flair from Italy. By working with British and Italian manufacturers Hope are able to offer luxurious and stylish apparel, with a key focus on quality.
The Hope Code
My last personal favourite design element from the brand is The Hope Code, the Hope Collection has been designed building on the first principles of the Divine Proportion. The Divine Proportion is found in nature, science and art and represents the perfect balance of working in thirds.
Hope has taken some of these learnings and applied them to how garments are designed. By dressing to the principle of thirds it can help to elongate the body making the silhouette look taller and slimmer, it’s all about proportion.
All Hope garments are designed on a template of thirds to ensure they all work to the principles of the Divine Proportion. Hope are taking a philosophy that is acknowledged as the basis of all truly beautiful design from long ago to present day and applying it to fashion. This is the Hope Code.
If I can find a way to elongate and slim my frame, I will be forever grateful to Hope for making me aware of Divine Proportion!
Could You Be A Stylist For Hope?
I mentioned earlier, women age 45+ are responsible for over half of the total womenswear market, what I didn’t mention was we are also the biggest growth area of internet shopping (we are spending some serious pennies ladies).
Although we still go to traditional places to shop, there’s a great frustration among many of us, due to the lack of personal interaction and unique pieces to choose from. Many women in our age group prefer boutique shopping but there are less and less of these on the high street and those you do find can be highly priced.
Nayna and her team realised they needed to offer a far more personal service and the best way to do this was to sell through social settings. Whether this be through stylists at pop up boutiques or stylists selling to people in their own homes, or even the stylists home! Of course they also have an online site, where you can browse and choose items from the privacy of your own home, to take a look at their current collection here Hope Website.
If you’re a lover of fashion and are interested in taking a new direction in your life, why not take a look at becoming a stylist for Hope? Flexible, fun and rewarding, you can become your own boss, work hours to suit you, meet new people and receive ongoing training and development from Nayna and the Hope team, plus generous commissions, discounts and incentives. Surely it’s worth a look, for more information click here Become A Hope Stylist.
Before I sign off, I’d like to thank the very lovely and talented Catherine Summers who writes the Not Dressed As Lamb blog, which Lucy and I love and are inspired by. Catherine also organised and hosted the 30-40+ Blogger Meet, where we were lucky enough to not only meet and interview Nayna McIntosh but many other truly fabulous women who have also taken the plunge into the blogging arena, all of whom inspired and motivated us, so THANK YOU ALL! X