Entrepreneur Friday – Jill White
Welcome to this weeks Entpreneur Friday with Jill White. Jill has followed her passion for women clothes, by starting Distinctively Me. Grab a cuppa and enjoy Jill’s interview.
Entrepreneur Friday – Jill White
Tell us a bit about your business?
Distinctively Me is a women’s tailored clothing business. It is aimed at those women who have passed the high fashion stage, and are now looking for perfectly fitting, beautifully made, tailored clothes that will still be a part of their capsule in years to come as much as they are today.
What inspired you to start it?
Distinctively Me was launched out of a frustration of never finding clothes that really fitted.
Each woman’s body is unique – we don’t fit “blocks” – and when we wear perfectly fitting clothes our body confidence soars – whatever shape we are. Our range of clothes achieves the perfect fit at prices that are compelling.
What is your career background?
I worked in the corporate world for nearly 30 years. I am an accountant by training, so have a good business brain, and have run businesses. However, I feel a real passion for women’s clothes – how they make you feel, both good and bad. I also like to take on new challenges, so the thought of starting a new business is both exciting and scary in equal measure.
What is your vision for your business?
I would love Distinctively Me to shift women’s views on how they wear clothes. Why should we put up with clothes that are made for artificial blocks rather than real women? Let’s celebrate women’s body shapes in all their forms. Let’s give women clothes that not only look smart and elegant but let’s have them feeling as comfy as your favourite jammies!
You’ve balanced being a successful business woman with raising a family. Any advice for other women?
I never had children, but still felt I didn’t have balance in my life. What I have realised is that we make time for those things that are important, which is great, but what we don’t do very well is stopping all those things we fill our lives with that aren’t really necessary. I decide what goes in my diary now and start with the must do’s and then add other things to my diary with the day to day stuff that needs to get done. It is amazing that I then don’t have the space to put in the worthless stuff – phew!
How do you maintain a good work/life/family balance?
I fill my diary first with the things I must do, whether that is from a business perspective or from a broader fulfillment perspective. I am a befriender for Age UK, which brings me so much joy, that I get on with my other tasks that day with a focus that I’m not sure I would always have. It’s the same with all the things I love doing – walking my dog every morning is a great time to clear the mind and set the focus for the day. In the past I would have thought – I don’t have time for that.
What was your light bulb moment? When did you realise you wanted to be an entrepreneur/business owner?
Looking in my wardrobe at the six pairs of black trousers I owned. None of them fitted whether I had spent £200 or £20. I wanted to get the perfectly fitting pair before I went back to work. I couldn’t find them, so my work became providing the perfect fit for all women.
What lessons have you learned along the way?
Be patient, be resilient, work with brilliant people, have fun.
What has surprised you about owning your own business?
I was always someone who could switch off from work when they left the office. That’s not the case when it’s your own business. Ideas and tasks pop into my head constantly. That’s why doing things you love become even more important to help you switch off
Do you have a daily routine or rituals you do?
Walking my dog on the Heath every morning. It allows me to get fresh air, get my blood pumping and set my focus for the day. I work in short bursts – 2 hours max, as my concentration definitely wanes after that, and I get up and do something active.
What obstacles have you had along the way?
Finding the right person to work with. John is my third tailor and the from the first moment I met him, I knew he was the right person – not just his skills but his personal values and ambitions. Money is a constant worry, especially as I have spent most of my career in a highly paid salaried job.
What is one thing you wish you’d known when you first started?
Things will take longer than you plan for, so make sure you are patient, resilient and have the will to win.
Tell us your favourite tools that make your life easier (apps, websites, software etc)
Know what you are good at, and get help for the rest. I am a good business woman and accountant. Quickbooks has been great to run my accounts from and I can quickly keep myself up to date. Social media and marketing is not my forte, so I have employed an agency to work with. I also employed a company to build, host and maintain my website.
What is your favourite quote?
The day you stop learning is the day you start dying. This is true as a business or an individual.
Having worked in the corporate world for 30 nearly 30 years, Jill has now followed her passion for women clothes, by starting a business called Distinctively Me. Using the experienced gained through senior business positions in FTSE 100 companies, she has partnered with an experienced tailor, to create a beautiful range of timeless, tailored clothes made in London to fit perfectly. When she is not working you will find her walking her dog, volunteering with Age UK to befriend lonely people in London, or watching her beloved Chelsea with her nephew.