Research Associate to Founder of

What was your role in your old job?

Research Associate at a leading fund manager. I assisted two analysts manage a large portfolio investments. I was in charge of researching the companies, making recommendations on whether to buy, sell or hold and then keep indepth financial models.

What is/are your new role(s)?

Founded an online fashion retailer for up and coming British designers. We aim to support the next generation of luxury designers helping them develop a retail following and brand awareness. I do everything myself from photo shop pictures, buy the collections and package and ship orders.

Why did you change?

I have always wanted to run my own business. Over the past 4 years I have researched different business ideas developing numerous business plans before deciding to go with fashion.

Are you happy with the change?

Oh yes!! It's been an amazing journey. I went from knowing nothing about fashion to knowing so much and learning more each day.

What do you miss and what don't you miss?

Working on my own I miss the support of a team. In my own job I always had a group around to bounce ideas off. Now I have to make all the decisions which is good, but sometimes it is nice to hear other opinions. And having IT support at the end of the phone 24 hours a day!

How did you go about making the change?

I spent nearly 12 months preparing a business plan, raising finance and meeting with designers to get their backing. I then gave 3 months notice to my employers and continued to work on my idea while working long hours in the City.

What was the most difficult thing about changing?

Leaving a wonderful job where I had a great salary, bright future and security. I also had many friends and I miss the daily interaction with them.

What help did you get?

My partner is an analyst in the City as well as a chartered accountant. He was able to go through my financials and ensure that I was being realistic and accurate. I also had support from business coach Heather at Striding Out.

What have you learnt in the process?

That when setting up a business despite the most diligent planning, it always takes double your budget and triple the time. You just need to stay patient and positive.

What do you wish you'd done differently?

I made a fundamental mistake with my budgeting and then ran out of money earlier than first anticipated. As a result I needed to ask my investor for more money. If I was doing it again I would spend more time either doing work experience with someone in the fashion industry or paying a consultant with extensive fashion business experience to go through my business plan and financials.

What would you advise others to do in the same situation?

Use all the support networks you can to ensure that you are on the right track and thinking of all situations.

What lessons could you take from Nicole's story to use in your own career change? Let us know in the comments below. 

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