Looking at the personalities behind London's small businesses
Jo Jackson was one of the founders of Beyond the Valley
, the legendary concept store and community for up-and-coming London designers, and the creative force behind London's Newburgh Quarter
. She is now the marketing director of i-am beyond
, a joint venture with ‘i-am’ associates
, specialising in alternative marketing, pop-ups and brand stratiegies for the fashion, retail and lifestyle industries.How did you get your start?
"I'm a big believer in learn by doing." Jo learned that precept at 16 when she created and sold printed mugs under the auspices of Young Enterprise
, the UK’s leading business and enterprise education charity. Then, in 2004 (only one year after graduating from Central Saint Martin's College of Art and Design) and despite admitting that they had "no business learning at all," Jo and her school friends, Kristjana Williams and Kate Harwood, started Beyond the Valley. They borrowed a shop in Covent Garden and cobbled together £5,000 and an inventory of goods to be sold on consignment. While at Beyond the Valley, Jo realised she preferred the marketing aspect of the business, so she started Beyond the Valley Insight, which, in 2009, led her to i-am beyond.What has helped you develop your businesses?
"If I hadn't had the opportunity to get my feet wet with a proper business and to get to do that in a safe environment [through Young Enterprise
], I don't know if I would have had the confidence to start my own business a year after leaving school. And we received lots of advice from Central Saint Martin's too. There is amazing advice out there. You need to get as much of it as possible early on. It is only because we were so driven that we found the help that we ended up getting."Can you imagine working for someone else?
"No. I never really worked for anyone. I'veworked freelance or owned my own business. I can't imagine working for someone else. I'm a control freak. I need to control what it is I'm doing."Advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
"Get the right team together and believe in your idea. If you're doubting it, people will see that. But be practical with leases, supply chains, etc. and keep it flexible until you have yourself up and running for six months to a year."Find out more about i-am beyond
's services on its website, http://www.i-ambeyond.com/