HoL 1

Name: Olivia Martyn (aka Olive)

NEF Class of: 2014

Currently: having bags of fun!! (aka Olive Cooper)




Tell us a bit about what you’ve been up to since leaving the NEF programme in 2014?

I was lucky enough to be one of the winners of the NEF pitch prize, which gave me the kick I needed to leave my job and go full time on my own venture, Olive Cooper. Olive Cooper is a new handbag brand for women who want more from their bags. Our bags have been designed so that they can be subtly detached to become two separate bags, allowing the professional woman to go from desk to dinner in no time at all, with no aching shoulders! Other than developing the product(s) which took the majority of my time, I left NEF and had many sleepless nights watching you tube videos to get my website up and ready. I now take each day as it comes, as every day something new happens. I spend the majority of my time in the factory, getting hold of journalists, and planning our next steps.

What was the inspiration behind this? Where did you get the idea?

When working, I found I spent the majority of my time carrying a handbag larger than myself, filled with items I didn’t need but wanted access to. When I would go out in the evening, this bag would still be on my shoulders. I just wanted a bag that could split in half – so half I could leave under my desk, and the other half could come out with me. And still look great.

How’s it going at the moment?

We’ve just launched online, with our bags going in to Wolf & Badger’s Dover St and Notting Hill stores from November. We’ve had sales online from the UK and America, primarily as a result of the small amount of bloggers who have spoken about us so far, and now, we’re putting much of our efforts into getting some more exposure.

What’s next?

Now it’s time for us to build up traction. We have some exciting press coming up before Christmas, and we just need to keep this coming. We also hope to open a pop-up store in the very near future, and although wholesale isn’t our main focus, we hope to secure some key new stockists.

How did your time with NEF help prepare you for what you’re doing now?

It did more than prepare me. It was a constant reminder of what I was most motivated by, and that’s business. To start one, and grow one. It gave me real courage and key skills to enable me to take that first step.

What’s been your biggest challenge to date?

It’s so early days I can’t really tell. The biggest challenge I’m faced with is firstly, trying to get my brand out there with such a tight budget, and relying on sales to get us to the next stages. Secondly, one seriously frustrating challenge is convincing people that I’m not just a designer. I’m not trained as a designer either. I’m a product builder, I am obsessed with quality, and I want to build a scalable business.

Some people argue that running your own company at a young age is a step too far – do you think it’s a disadvantage or an advantage to start business at a young age, and why?

The only disadvantage is getting people to take me seriously. Not only am I young, but I look even younger. Other than that, being young is my greatest asset. I have nothing to lose, and my mind-set is so flexible.

What advice would you give to someone starting out on the NEF programme, or indeed any young aspiring entrepreneur?

Just get on with it.

Where do you want to be in 5 years?

Having a glass of champagne in Harrods as I discuss what’s going in their next season sounds nice.