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Meeting the founder of fashion brand Hope: Nayna McIntosh

PUBLISHED: 09:39 25 June 2019

CEO and Founder Nayna McIntosh

CEO and Founder Nayna McIntosh

Archant

Halfway through life, Pangbourne-based Nayna McIntosh walked away from her corporate career and founded fashion brand Hope…

Tell us about your family and where you live

I live in Pangbourne in West Berkshire with my husband, Harvey, a chartered accountant, and our two children, Arthur, 17, and Florence, 16. They're working towards their A Levels and GCSEs. We have lived here for eight years, but we have been in Berkshire for 15 as we were in Ascot before. We also have a black Labrador called Winston.

Pangbourne is definitely home for us now; our house overlooks the glorious countryside and landscape, and we love it.

Tell us about how Hope came about

I had a career of 30-plus years in retail. Then I got to the age of 50, which for me, personally, was a time to find out about what's next. I realised I was halfway through life, and I wasn't wholly satisfied with my career. I know I've been blessed to have a fantastic career which I've enjoyed, but I've been in retail since I was 10 years old, working on my mother's market stall! I needed to take some time out for me: to read, research and reflect. I asked myself: "How do I want to live the next third of my life?" I decided I wanted to work for myself but I didn't know what I was going to do. But I knew I wanted to do something involved with fashion still. So at 51, I walked away from my corporate career.

At the time, I was finding it increasingly difficult to find clothes to wear that I liked. I was 51, had two children and had recently undergone a hysterectomy. I was looking around at what other women were wearing. Mid-menopause, and realising the physical impact this has on women's bodies, I saw an opportunity in the market. I decided to launch a clothes line unashamedly for women aged 45 and over, who take up 52% of the retail market.

At this time, my thoughts kept returning to my grandparents who made the voyage from Jamaica over to the UK in the 1950s looking for a better future. They had to work hard and save to bring their seven children over to be with them, one by one. It's remarkable that they had the strength to leave them and come over here to work and earn money to be able to do this. Hope and optimism is all they had. My grandfather was a devout Christian and his faith kept them going. Hope is also my mother's name so it just seemed the right name and sentiment to pick for my brand.

Describe Hope clothes…

Hope is a collection of wearable and stylish clothes in quality fabrics and fluid designs created for real body shapes and proportions. Hope clothes are about making women feel beautifully confident and for some women, post-menopause and post-kids, it's a long time since they've felt that about themselves. Our customers comment on our quality, style and comfort - that is perfect for us. If someone feels comfortable, their confidence shines through.

Where are Hope clothes made?

When I started out, I began an obsessive search for fabrics and mills. I wanted the design of the clothes to be simple and the fabric comfortable. Supporting the British fashion industry was key to us when sourcing manufacturers and factories.

We're proud of the fact our clothes are made in Italy and the UK. We're just two hours away from the family-owned factory, which is important. We work tirelessly to ensure that all the items are ethically sourced and manufactured.

Who inspires you?

I have been a fan of Donna Karan for many years. She is an ace at nailing fit and fabric.

Do you help any charities?

At the end of the season/year, we have terminus stock. We wondered what to do with it. Many fashion brands get someone in who will buy it low-value, but then we heard about the charity SmartWorks Reading, who help women return to work. One of the joys in this world is coming into contact with like-minded businesses, such as SmartWorks. We pass our terminus stock onto them and they use it to provide clothes and styling advice to women who need it most. We benefit from the knowledge we're helping others. We love seeing photos of their clients in Hope clothes looking fabulous.

What's your work ethic?

I'm not afraid of hard work. When I started Hope, I was prepared to work harder than I ever had before and I can honestly say I have never put so much effort in. But it's joyful. It's personal. The sector is tough at the moment, but my team are brilliant and we enjoy what we do.

What's your motto in life?

Follow your instincts always. You'll very rarely be wrong.

Ambitions for the future?

We will keep doing what we're doing. We have a three-year strategy. We want to double our business online and overseas. We want to develop our wholesale accounts and raise brand awareness. There's more than 3.3 million over-45s in the UK; we just need to find them.

hopefashion.co.uk

More…

- Honest Mum Vicki Psarias: My MUMBOSS tour, awards, holidays and more - This past month has been a heady mix of MUMBOSS book tour dates in both Belfast and York (I lost my voice and heels in a taxi, which is always a sign of a successful event, right?), plus entertaining the kids during the holidays (thank goodness the sun came out to play in Windsor so the children could too).

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