Getting to know you: Nicola Rodney-Crook

What do you currently do?
I’m the Managing Director at Bras and Honey, a leading online lingerie retailer. We are dedicated to finding the most beautiful, fashionable and sophisticated lingerie, swimwear and shapewear. Specialising in underwear designed for women with a larger bust, we carefully select stylish garments that never compromise on comfort and support.

What was the inspiration for the business?
I initially started my career in financial services before moving into the business of bras. With seven years’ lingerie industry experience under my belt, I was looking for the next challenge and wanted to establish my own business. The idea for Bras and Honey was a result of conversations with a several female friends who talked about the ongoing trials and tribulations of finding the right underwear, particularly when it came to the larger cup sizes. A bit more research helped me identify a real gap in the market and was the real decider to get things moving.

Looking back is there anything you would have done differently?
While my financial background and industry experience have proved invaluable in ensuring the smooth day-to-day running of Bras and Honey, I often wonder why I didn’t decide to take the plunge earlier. I’m sure that many entrepreneurs think the same after realising how much they love working for themselves. For me, it’s very rewarding to see the company grow and to be able to create employment opportunities. In fact, there’s nothing better! Perhaps it’s fear or procrastination that gets in the way, but my advice to anyone with a great business idea is to face the fear and think what the heck, just do it anyway! You won’t regret it.

What defines your way of doing business?
The retail landscape may be increasingly challenging and competitive, but despite the ups and downs of the past few years the old adage ‘the customer is king’ still rings true and has been the guiding light in everything we do at Bras and Honey. For us, customers are not just an order. Buying lingerie is a very personal thing and we set out to offer clients great customer service right from the start. Buying lingerie and swimwear can be a challenging purchase, so we set up a dedicated customer advice line and online chat service. We offer advice on everything from getting the right measurements and fit to recommending the best underwear to compliment a particular outfit or the most suitable sports bra. This ensures all our customers, even though they are buying online, receive that personal touch and are guaranteed to look and feel great.

Who do you admire?
The North West is lucky to be home to some real inspirational female entrepreneurs. Hilary Devey is definitely one that springs to mind. Hilary is a real testament to the fact that determination and a strong business proposition will allow you to succeed, even in a sector that is often seen as a male dominated. Closer to home, I admire my husband. As a successful business owner, he has been invaluable in providing support and advice every step of the way.

What advice would you give to someone starting up?
Always think about your proposition. How do you plan to stand out from the competition? Getting this right is essential from the start, particularly when it comes to retail. Work hard, have tenacity and don’t give up at the first hurdle; things can be tough at times but have courage in your own convictions.