Whilst there are many reasons and motivations behind starting a new business, the sage business advice is to ensure that you are solving a problem in the market. If that problem also happens to be your passion, then you’re probably off to a good start.
Enterprise for London have recently been working with a duo that’s managed to combine both of these elements successfully. Sisters Denise and Janis sher set up Rockcoco Fans – a bespoke and artisan Fan Company – in 2014, after discovering how difficult it was to find high quality contemporary styled fans. This provided them with a clear mission: to create beautiful and stylish fans for the modern woman.
Luckily, Denise and Janis were no strangers to the design business. Their grandfather Jack, established Charkin Hats in 1936 in the City of London. Their father William, joined the company in the 1940s, followed by Janis in the 80s. The company designed hats for an array of companies such as BIBA and Debenhams. Coming from such an established fashion business, the sisters had realistic expectations of the manufacturing process.
Through avid research and development, the pair are bringing innovation to the sector by investing in production, with their new designs reinvigorating the once flagging industrial output of a small village in Spain known for manufacturing traditional Spanish fans.
We caught up with Denise and Janice to find out more about their business.
Q) Tell us about your business: your service / product, how long have been trading and where?
Janis and I are sisters. We decided to go into business together designing and producing beautiful handmade fans. Our fans are made from only the best materials, and some of them are hand painted and signed by the artist.
Q) What was the inspiration behind setting up your own business?
Denise collected and used antique fans for many years but could not find any high quality and stylish fans in the current market. It always surprised us to see to see beautifully dressed and stylish women wearing expensive accessories but carrying inferior fans.
After researching the market extensively we could see these sorts of fans did not exist, so we decided to create and design them ourselves. We decided to call our brand ‘Rockcoco’, which sums our product up: classical with an edgy twist. Our artisan fans are made using only the finest materials e.g. ebony, palo santo wood, finest lace, cotton and silks.
Q) What has been your highlight and biggest challenge since setting up?
Our biggest challenge was sourcing and researching the fan companies in Spain. The companies we deal with have been making fans for generations and it’s been very interesting learning about this niche industry. Of course the language was initially a problem, but we now have an interpreter in England who works and travels with us.
Our highlight has been seeing our designs successfully come to fruition.
Q) What is your number one strategic goal for your business over the next year?
To re-introduce the hand fan for modern women of all ages.
Q) Who is your favourite entrepreneur and why?
Our biggest inspiration is Mary Quant. She was able to be so creative and influential but she was also a successful business women. Mary changed the face of British fashion for the young in the 1960’s, introducing the mini skirt and hot pants. She put English fashion onto the world stage.
She is quoted as saying: “Risk it; go for it. Life always gives you another chance, another go at it. It’s very important to take enormous risks.” We think this was good advice for us!
Q) What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs about to start their own business?
To have belief and passion for your product or idea and to work hard to realise your dream.