Emily and Sabrina founded Sunuva in 2007 after meeting on holiday and by chance their children knew each other from nursery.
Sunuva was founded over mutual frustration at the lack of stylish and protective swimwear for children. The brand was founded offering UV protective swimwear along with clothing to be available all year round.
Since launching Sunuva, Emily and Sabrina have established a global fashion brand for children that is stocked in major department stores and boutiques worldwide. The range now includes teen, women’s and menswear styles.
Emily already had start up experience after starting her career working in PR and was one of the three entrepreneurs behind cosmetics brand Pout as well as a consultant for Sir Philip Green. Pout went on to be sold to the owner of Victoria Secret. Following the sale Emily worked with Sir Philip Green and Topshop consulting on a new cosmetics range for Topshop. Prior to co-founding Sunuva Sabrina previously worked on a costume jewellery business that supplied the high street and prior to that had trained as a chartered accountant.
Sunuva have just celebrated their 10th anniversary after starting the brand by hosting private sales which provided a chance meet with a Harrods buyer through a mutual friend. Harrods to this day are Sunuva’s largest stockist.
Sunuva is available from major department stores around the world including Harrods, Selfridges, Fenwick, Harvey Nichols, and Bloomingdales, as well as independent boutiques, luxury resorts worldwide such as The Four Seasons and The One and Only. The brand has a growing A list celebrity following including the Beckhams, Madonna, Gwen Stefani, The Cowells and has been worn by Prince George.
Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role
I have been an entrepreneur for about 20 years now, Sunuva is my second business, I sold my previous business Pout Cosmetics to Victoria Secret in 2007. Sabrina and I are partners and the creative directors of Sunuva, we design everything, art direct all the shoots, and are heavily involved with the look and feel of the brand from every perspective and really love what we do.
Did you ever sit down and plan your career?
I have never planned my career, I have just rolled with opportunities from the day I started working. Each time you gain confidence and experience in a role, it gets you ready for the next step. I Stared out in fashion, moved onto to PR, went into cosmetics and now I am in children’s fashion. I think its about identifying either what you love to do, or if you are setting up a business from scratch, identifying a gap in the market which you feel you can fill or create something new.
Have you faced any challenges along the way?
So many challenges along the way. Sometimes (and more often than not) they are financial, especially when you have your own business, cash is tight most of the time and you have to be very careful and focused on how you spend your money. Also convincing well established suppliers or companies to take a leap of faith and work with you can be extremely challenging. I don’t believe running a business can come without challenges almost on a daily basis.
How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?
Our Non Exec Chairman Peter Kenyon (ex Chelsea and Man U Football club) is our mentor. It is a real blessing if you can have someone experienced looking over your shoulder and holding your hand when you need some extra support. I don’t mentor myself but I would happily get involved in smaller set ups as and when my work allows me to find the time.
What do you want to see happen within the next five years when it comes to diversity?
New products, new concepts, new ideas within our collection. Its always important to strive to become better and better and what you do, and to try new things. Whether it’s an adult range, opening a shop, expanding into new territories, we are open to everything, but it needs to be at the right time.
If you could change one thing for women in the workplace, what would it be?
I always find the balance struggle with kids and work is a constant challenge. If you can mange to nip out to the odd netball or football match, or identify one day a week that you pick your kids up from school. It’s a struggle, but with good help its manageable. I think as a business we are very flexible with our staff (all whom are women except one man)
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
Prince George being dressed head to toe in Sunuva in his official 3rd birthday photos, which appeared on the front page of newspapers around the world.
What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?
The next challenge for us is finding a couple of new people to join our team as we are expanding the EComms department. Finding the right, and good people is always a challenge and can take some time to get right.
The future for us is all about trying to be the best one stop shop for kids holiday wear, never to stop pushing the boundaries, and always to try harder and harder.