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Francesca Kelsey

Thrifty Little
Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Thrifty Little is owned and run by Francesca Kelsey a fashion graduate, blogger and upcycling fan girl . She started the business in May 2013 putting her passions to good use in filling the gap for high quality, versatile and affordable, upcycled clothing

60-Second Interview

Who was your biggest hero when you were younger?
I own a small upcycled clothing business called Thrifty Little and my biggest hero as a child was Hermione Granger from Harry Potter
What initially attracted you to enterprise?
I wanted to have the ability to exercise some control over my working life and be able to focus my strengths on something that I am passionate about. I have a mental illness similar to bipolar disorder which used to clash with my working life and it was important to me that one day I should be able to manage my career around my needs rather than others, in this way I have been able to handle all aspects of my life well and become a far more productive and creative person than I ever was when I worked for others. Many people with mental illness develop skills that they would otherwise have not and if the illness can be managed well and understood a person is able to focus on what they have gained from it rather than struggle with the difficulties that it can create
Can you tell us about the first £10 you ever made?
My two sisters went mad for the first few upcycled tees that I made and bought me out. Of course they got a highly discounted rate but I realised then that if they were so excited about the product, then others would be too, and I decided to go ahead and build a business around that product.
What has been your biggest challenge so far with your business?
There is no easy answer in business, no one to tell you what you should do. My biggest challenge so far has been coming to terms with the trial and error way of doing things. It's hard not to consider an unprofitable venture a waste of time but every mistake that I have made has been a huge learning curve and in a year since starting my business I now know my business and my market in more depth than I would have ever thought possible. Every decision I make or gamble I take is now far more intelligent than the last and for all of the wrong choices that I've made, it's the right ones amongst those that I was brave enough to try that I am most proud of.
Who is it that keeps you going through any tough times?
My family do all that they can to help me and I can rely on them and their varied skills to fill gaps in my own knowledge. As a sole trader it's been important for me to outsource certain aspects of my business to those who understand it better than me and luckily I come from a very talented bunch who are happy to pitch in. , as well as talk me through my worries when things get stressful!
What is it that gets you out of your bed in the morning?
When you love what you do work isn't work. I get out of bed (some days earlier than others) because I'm excited to see where my business takes me that day and what I can achieve. I've turned my hobby into my job and I'll never get bored of it.
How do you define success?
Success to me is a very small thing, if there comes a future where I can do what I love and pay my bills at the same time then I'll be happy and proud of myself. The best thing about having your own business is that there is no level where you must stop, no position that you cannot be promoted from. You make your own choices every day and where in a normal job many people can start to feel bored and stagnant, a self employed person knows that every effort they put in is repaid to them and can feel focused and passionate every day.
Where do you see your business in 5 years’ time?
It's hard to predict the future of a business with the life of an entrepreneur being eternally unsure but my hope for my business is to have created a well known, upcycled clothing brand. One that customers can buy from and trust that they are purchasing something that is cool and ethical and very high quality. I plan on selling online and in various shops and then one day having a flagship shop of my own and perhaps giving other small brands a start through that.
If you could give your “teenage self” one piece of advice, what would it be?
Life isn't as short as you think it is, it's ok to stop worrying about the future and just enjoy whatever you are doing now for a while.
If you could give your “teenage self” one piece of advice, what would it be?
Can I pick Hermione Granger? Because that would be pretty amazing! But no I suppose it has to be a real person. I'd have Sir Allan Sugar as a business contact because he is a self made man who started from nothing and because my life mantra since I started my business has been to live every day like I'm on The Apprentice.