Henrietta Adams started ethically-led shirt makers, Henri, after attending the London College of Fashion. Specialising in pattern cutting, Henrietta took the same, careful, hands-on approach and then applied it to her entire business. Her experience in the world of tailoring has yielded some great advice which is transferable to other fields of business. Check out her top tips below
1. Find your passion
“You’re going to be putting a lot of energy and hours into your business, so it’s vital to find something that you believe in. My background at the London College of Fashion and in pattern cutting meant that it was a logical next step to start creating my own clothes. I wanted to create timeless pieces that people would love.
My plan was to focus on one key thing – women’s shirts. As a result I was able to work tirelessly to perfect that one product, and cancel out other noise and distractions. The key is to try and not do too much. I wanted to do one thing really well and the way to achieve that is to constantly improve and adjust. The important thing is to take care to ensure that the product fits. Taking time and care to get things right brings me back to the point of the business.”
2. Look for new business help
“There’s plenty of support for start-ups. The British Library and the City Business Library offer free seminars and networking opportunities.”
“I was very lucky to receive support from Newable, which was funded by J.P. Morgan. They provided advice and workshops to creative businesses in East London. They’re no longer running, but this is just one example of schemes that might be available to new businesses. There’s plenty of support for start-ups. The British Library and the City Business Library offer free seminars and networking opportunities.”
3. Live out your values
“I’m passionate about sustainability. My business sources cotton carefully from ethically-certified suppliers and we use recycled hemp blends. We also work with a women’s cooperative in India that produces khadi fabric. Buying from these suppliers provides equipment and training for women (who make up 80% of the world’s fashion industry workforce) to help them support themselves financially. People stay loyal to the brand if they have an interest in sustainability.
Staying as a small business has also had the added advantage of reducing waste, as I’ve been able to order material in small amounts on a regular basis. Any extra offcuts end up as other products, such as notebook covers.
We also have articles on henri.london around issues which we think will be valued by our customers. It’s more important than people think. Creating this kind of content gives more substance to the business and ties everything together in a well-rounded way.”
4. Build good relationships
“Build really good professional relationships with both suppliers and clients, so if there are any problems you can work out a solution. Good relationships mean that you can also be assertive and honest without causing offence.”
“The business has had its fair share of obstacles to overcome. I jumped in headfirst and was probably pretty naïve. One of my first fabric orders from India was unusable and I thought it would be a total disaster. Fortunately, a new delivery was made within 2 weeks and possible crisis was averted – even though orders were delayed. The lesson is to build really good professional relationships with both suppliers and clients, so if there are any problems you can work out a solution. Good relationships mean that you can also be assertive and honest without causing offence.”
5. Amplify your locality
“I think people want to support local business, especially if they feel a connection to it.”
“I feel a strong connection to East London. I’m part of a community of brands, designers and photographers with a similar ethos. We all help each other out and attend fairs together. All of our products are made in London, which makes sense to how we operate. I think people want to support local business, especially if they feel a connection to it.”
Henrietta Adams on Dot London
“Because I have the henri.london website, my business is slowly morphing into Henri London. I think this is attractive not just to Londoners, but on an international scale too. But it also fits. Henri is a London brand.”