Changing Room Chats: Hesper Fox

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For the second instalment of our new interview series 'Changing room chats' we caught up with the founder of one our longest standing brand partners - Kristi Edwards of Hesper Fox. 
Launched in 2016 (the same year as us), Hesper Fox is a London-based sleep, lounge, resort and style brand with an identity anchored firmly in print and fabric led design, inspired by an enduring love of travel, colour and the arts. From liquid silk pyjamas to crisp linen sleep to style pieces, Hesper Fox gives lazy Sunday brunches and poolside Fridays a chic, relaxed upgrade. To time with this interview, we have launched the global exclusive venom series with the brand, a cotton sleep collection adorned with vivid green & blue snakes intertwined. We are completely obsessed!
Thank you for always telling it how it is K x 
Founder: Kristi Edwards

Age: It begins with a “4"

Founded: January 2015

Team number: It’s me and a small army of freelancers.

Based: Richmond, London

Hero/in: My hero is my Mum and my inspiration are my friends who are running their own businesses. I love seeing their successes and their energy in pushing forward when I know how HARD small business is. 

Current fave style / shape in *your collection: Our Acacia resort dress. It has 5 metres of skirt which is mental but its such a dramatic shape and a perfect holiday piece - hides many a pasta lunch. 

Current fave from another brand: Genevieve Sweeney socks. Hands down the cosiest with the snazziest colours. 

Current fave Instagram follow: It’s actually a hashtag #underthefloralspell - follow if you want epic dahlias and inspiration from the colours of nature. 
 
Interview cont. 
 
What is the biggest hurdle you’ve hit since you founded your business? Getting things made sustainably in smaller batches - most factories want orders of 100s of pieces - and sourcing sustainable fabrics. Sustainable sourcing is getting easier but it still takes a good chunk of my time.
 
What has been your proudest moment since you founded your business? For me the proudest moments are when someone contacts me to tell me that they love what they’ve bought - that they feel good. I especially love it when I help someone buy something for their partner and they feedback that we made it easier for them.
 
What was the best piece of advice you received when you started...? Don’t say yes to everything. 

What single piece would you pass on to aspiring female founders? Watch your cash flow and don’t say yes to everything! In the early days it’s tempting to say yes to all opportunities but always, always, always keep your brand and your long game in mind. If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it.
 
How does being a *female* entrepreneur impact your experience or perspective? There is a genuine collectivism in the female entrepreneur space that I love. I’ve always been surprised by the generosity (in ideas and time) of the women in my orbit who are on a similar path to mine. I think women’s unique ability to combine thinking/feeling aspects to approach problem solving also gives rise to immense creativity. 

Is social media the answer to marketing in 2020 or is it a time suck for business owners too? I think it’s both. It’s hugely important - it’s basically a modern day business card - most people will go to Instagram before they will go to a website and because what we do is so visual, it’s impactful and a good way for your customer to hear your voice and get under the skin of your brand. I also like that it enables a conversation direct with your customer. It also uses an enormous amount of time and energy!

With big retailers declining rapidly in the last few years, more shoppers are returning to independent stores - why do you think customers are choosing to visit independent in terms of high street shopping - how have *you* experienced the shift from big retail multiples to independents, through your business and / or the industry? I think people want an experience. They want to discover new things. I think they’re sick to death walking into large retailers and seeing the same brands. I also think they want to be served and understood and to have someone listen to what they want. Chiefly, they want a dialogue and I think people love feeling part of a community and this is something that the independent stores do well. As a business, I prefer dealing with the smaller indies - I like building relationships and that is much easier to do with someone who is actually steering the ship, making aesthetic decisions and who will ‘push’ your brand and tell your story. A smaller brand can easily get lost in larger stores.
 
How can smaller business owners participate in the drive for workplace diversity? What are the challenges smaller businesses face here? The key for smaller businesses is awareness of the issues. We simply do not have the resources to undertake large scale work in this area but we absolutely can be mindful when hiring and to make genuine effort to attract people from a range of backgrounds. When I am choosing who I work with, I always try and engage people who may bring a different perspective.
 
In a world where it is still legal to ask interviewees about their family plans, what can female entrepreneurs do to help advance the discussion around women in the workplace? Not ask about family plans for a start! I think the key is to approach things as collaboratively as possible. Ask what can be done to support women in your team, put that in place and start from the position of mutual respect and trust. I think there has to be balance - to promote an openness around discussing not just what women need but how they contribute. Mentorship programs where more senior women mentor more junior women are often the incubators for really great and practical ideas about how to promote gender equality at work.  Perhaps one of the only positives to come out of the pandemic may be less reluctance to embrace more flexible working that supports women and families as well as all others who wish to work, not less hard but perhaps less traditionally. 
 
Stay tuned for chats to come with Pant Pals connected to us in all sorts of ways, and of course if you'd like to suggest someone that we should chat to, please send through suggestions to hello@thepantryunderwear.com  

Delve in to our exclusive 'venom' cotton series - created just for us in the most vividly divine print and super flattering shapes ... 
 
cotton nightie cotton nightshirt cotton pjs cotton pyjamas cotton slip dress cotton sun dress Hesper Fox illustrated pyjamas snake pjs snake pyjamas the pantry underwear venom series

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