My business journey: Jessica Hule
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In recognition of her services to entrepreneurship and contribution to diversity aged just 34, Jessica Hule was awarded an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) being named in the Queen's Birthday Honours list (June 2014).
Jessica became a mother aged just 17 years old and began her adult life in a hostel with just four GCSEs and no sense or purpose. Having returned to education when her baby daughter was 9 months old, after graduation through her relentless work ethic and resilience, Jessica enjoyed a glittering career in media - working with some of the world’s biggest names initially under the publicists to Mariah Carey, Simon Cowell and George Michael, before a lunch-break trip to a greeting card store became the catalyst of her entrepreneurial journey.
Inspired by the high-street’s lack of representative multi-cultural greeting cards, following a shopping trip for a card to boost her daughter’s (then aged 7) self-esteem, Color Blind Cards was launched in 2006. The award-winning multi-racial greeting card and gift company is credited with having made history as the first company to secure a presence for a black card range in the UK high street (Clinton Cards 2007), with a range which is currently stocked in ASDA stores and department and independent stores around the UK.
Despite Jessica’s achievements in the UK, Color Blind Cards' brand presence in Johannesburg, South Africa was particularly poignant due to the political sensitivity in the region following apartheid and resulted in the South African Times newspaper writing about her achievement. Following a school assembly Skype talk to 600 school children in Johannesburg about her journey, Color Blind Cards were sold in the region with 50% of proceeds going back into the school to fund the purchase of tables and chairs for the pupils to eat lunch at.
In 2008 Jessica founded JH Public Relations, a PR agency representing inspiring entrepreneurs and personalities. JHPR’s roster has included Samuel Jackson’s Glittering Stars in Dessert Nights event, Kelly Rowland and former Dragon’s Den star Hilary Devey.
Having redesigned her life through entrepreneurialism, Jessica is passionate about supporting start-ups and is a champion of social mobility and inclusivity, sitting on the boards of several national charities. Winner of the Daily Mail’s Enterprising Young Brit award and labelled one of Britain’s Most inspiring entrepreneurs by the Evening Standard, Jessica sits on Glamour Magazine’s Power List as one of the UK’s most influential women. Counting a National Diversity Award amongst Color Blind Card's many awards, Jessica has been invited to No. 10 Downing street to advise on encouraging a more enterprising young Britain and is an international speaker on the power of personal brand and profile raising.
This interview with Jessica Hule took place on the 16th of November 2016.
Can you tell us about your background and what inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
I began my career in journalism, both print and broadcast working for the BBC, Choice FM, PRIDE Magazine and the national press, before crossing over into showbiz PR. In 2008 I decided to set up on my own to have control over the individuals I represented.
What were the biggest challenges when setting up your companies?
Biggest challenges were working simultaneously on two completely different businesses. With Color Blind we were trying to break new ground and with JHPR it was working out which sector or space I wanted to focus my efforts.
What would you say is your proudest business moment so far?
Too many to mention. Seeing my cards stocked in South Africa was awesome given the political background of the country, and being awarded an MBE for services to entrepreneurship and taking my parents to the palace, have been highlights.
How many hours a day do you work on average?
7-10 but on my own terms. I make it to the gym most days and do the school run most days.
What does success look like to you?
The ability to work with people I like, for a mission I believe in, on my own terms, anywhere in the world.
In your opinion, what are some of the key ingredients to becoming a successful entrepreneur?
It depends how you describe success. My version requires an ability to develop as a person as well as professionally, building resilience, integrity and a commitment to a purpose bigger than personal gain.
What advice can you give to small businesses regarding their PR?
Do as much of it yourself as you can before investing in agency retainers. Come to one of my workshops jhpr.co.uk/events and learn how!
What do you think the current environment is like for people looking to start-up a business today?
It's the perfect time. We are spoilt with access to free or affordable resources such as the Business and Intellectual Property Centre offering at the British Library.
What does the future hold for you Jessica? Any exciting plans we should keep an eye out for?
I'm working on my first book! It's been a dream of mine to do this for a long time, excited to be bringing it to fruition. Watch this space :)
For further details visit www.colorblindcards.com
Please note: This interview took place on the MiVentures platform which is owned and managed by Wenta.