I love to hear stories about people taking the plunge and jacking in jobs to pursue their passion. And the number of stories I hear have not abated even during a recession.
Christine Hernar is one of those people. When she mentioned she was setting up her business on the side, I could see the determination Christine had to make it happen. At that stage she was about to return to full-time work after the birth of her second child. Now, six months on Christine has taken the leap, left her job and launched her new dream children’s wear business – benandlola.co.uk.
Christine came to London from Norway to take up her place at the London College of Fashion. She subsequently worked at Thomas Pink and Laura Ashley.
For the launch Christine has hired out a nearby rented house to show off her beautiful range of clothing. She also offered a 10% discount on the night and provided party bags – which were stylish and very welcome.
But jacking your job in – is that brave in a recession? “Working 5 days a week at Laura Ashley with two children was unsustainable and my employer couldn’t offer me a part-time option so I decided to put everything behind my passion. Fashion was the reason I came to London in the first place and I always hoped to set up on my own. Having become a mum I spend a lot of time sitting and observing the trends in the playgroups. I like the Scadinavian brands that you don’t get so much of here.”
Christine’s mum was in the medical profession but was always making things, knitting, ‘crafty and creative.’ “I can’t make things like she did, but I do have an eye for detail. I did languages at university but I always had an interest in clothing and liked clothes that were more individual. I knew I wanted to come to London or New York to study fashion to see a variety of brands.”
And what’s it like now in the early stages of setting up your business? “I’m very happy two months in.” says Chrisine. “But I had a lot of mixed feelings before leaving my job. I have put so much time into this. I worked everyday on this during my maternity leave. I can now focus 100% on it. But there are some days when I think ‘oh my god, what have I done!’ But I have to make it work! There’s a lot to do. Having done the launch I want to go to summer fairs and there’s all the advertising and PR to do aswell.”
Ben & Lola are selling Scandinavian inspired clothing & toys for girls & boys from the age of 0 months and up to the age of 8 years. Most of the brands are from Scandinavia but they have also got some beautiful English and French brands. Brands include Name It, Lille Barn and Miniature.