Kelly Hoppen is an English interior designer, author and founder of Kelly Hoppen Interiors. Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, she started her career at the age of sixteen designing a family friend’s kitchen. Her work has since spanned across private homes to hotels and restaurants. In 2014, she launched her first online shop selling a range of furniture and soft furnishings. She has also worked for a number of celebrity clients including David and Victoria Beckham. Hoppen has also written eight design books to date, and presented her own show called Superior Interiors. In 2013, she returned to our screens as a dragon on BBC Two’s Dragon’s Den.
Hoppen has achieved numerous awards throughout her career, most notably an MBE in 2009 for her services to Interior Design.
You have maintained a successful career in an industry that is highly competitive and a property sector which is still predominantly run by men. You have brought happiness and joy to so many people’s properties through your art, your craft. How have you managed to stay focused and passionate about business and life?
I truly love what I do and strongly believe that’s why I have been able to do it so well for so long. Doing business is tough and has its ups and downs but the rewards are so gratifying. It is all about balance, keep your goals in mind but remember to have fun along the way.
You have been able to achieve your success at the same time as raising a daughter who is an entrepreneur too? What is your advice to women who are facing the societal challenges surrounding being a mother and a working woman/woman in business? Can we really have it all?
It’s all about finding a balance, I was fortunate to have a great support system which allowed me to enjoy both my career and home life. The most important thing is figuring out what works best for you in line with your aims and priorities as every individual is different.
You have campaigned passionately as an ambassador of enterprise in the UK? What needs to happen in order for Britain to maintain a competitive edge in global markets?
There needs to be more support and encouragement for young people to tap into their creative and entrepreneurial talents. Innovation is the key for us to stay ahead I the global market place. I’m very proud to working with the Prince’s Trust and the government’s GREAT campaign, which helps young people and British businesses thrive.
With that in mind what did the Dragon’s Den experience teach you?
It was an enjoyable experience that showed me just a glimpse of all of the entrepreneurial potential we have in the UK. It also reminded me that real hard work is the key to success – one can only help a company so much as an investor but a great work ethic really gets you far.
What would you say are the essential traits needed to be a successful business woman?
Confidence, self belief, a good attitude and a great work ethic.
You recently opened up about your experience of being bullied as a child and your work as an Anti-Bullying ambassador for The Diana Award is inspirational. What would you say to anybody who is going through bullying (at work, at school, at home) that might be reading this interview?
Find someone to talk to whether it is a friend, family member or someone else at work/school/home. Things do get better, just focus on how you want you future to be and focus on that (?)
If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?
I wouldn’t change a thing, all of my experiences have brought me to where I am today and I am thankful for that.
Why is it so important to inspire young women in particular to follow their dreams?
I think because women have been suppressed by society and still are in many parts of the world. Only in recent history has it become the norm for women to work and be breadwinners of the family, so for that reason I think it is important to encourage women and young girls to go for their dreams of becoming business women – showing them that it is achievable.
What advice would you give to somebody who wants to start a business in your industry?
I’d advise them to be sure that it is something they truly love and want to do. I’d then advise them to keep learning, even if you don’t take a professional course, become an expert in your field through teaching yourself and reading up on relevant areas of the industry. Draw inspiration from everything and carve out your niche.
What’s been your greatest achievement personally?
My daughter Natasha Corrett
If you weren’t doing what you do, what would you be doing?
I really can’t imagine doing anything else, I have wanted to be an interior designer for as long as I can remember. My mother has stories of me rearranging the lounge as a little girl.
Who has been your greatest inspiration?
What does the future hold for you?
There are so many exciting up and coming projects I’m working on internationally at the moment and I’m writing my 40th career anniversary retrospective which is very exciting!
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