Five Minutes with the Founder | Pepa Gonzalez, Founder, Pepa & Co.
Today we meet Pepa Gonzalez, founder of Pepa & Co. – the luxury childrenswear brand favoured by royals – who tells us how her Spanish family and her British family in-law were the inspiration behind her business, as well as sharing her advice for budding entrepreneurs looking to launch in the luxury sector.
TELL US ABOUT PEPA & CO.
We are a quintessential British luxury children’s clothing brand for newborns to 10-year-olds. Our brand is the essence of timeless clothing for young boys and girls. We are bring back the heritage of traditional childrenswear and enjoy seeing our children look like children! We design our collections in England and produce our clothing in small workshops in Spain and other countries close by to ensure we have full control of the manufacturing, and to guarantee our collections are produced in a responsible and sustainable way.
TELL US THE STORY OF HOW YOU BUILT YOUR BRAND
I have an entrepreneurial family, and I would probably say that I am one too! After some time working as a nanny in London I saw a gap in the market for affordable, quality children’s clothing with traditional and elegant design. The same style of clothing that I grew up wearing as a child in Spain. I have always been passionate about design and love putting my creative eye into everything I do. This, together with my marketing skills, some common sense, and lots of persistence, helped build Pepa & Co. to what it is today. If you can dream it, you can do it!
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO SET UP YOUR BUSINESS IN THE LUXURY SECTOR?
As Walpole’s CEO Helen Brocklebank said, “Luxury can be described as: creativity, quality, craftsmanship and made-to-last”. These core principles represent some of the values of our brand. We design unique, quality clothing – heritage pieces that can be passed from generation to generation. Our range is built on craftsmanship, and finished in small workshops with love and attention.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE THING ABOUT YOUR JOB?
I am very fortunate to be fully involved in the company, and to have started Pepa & Co. from scratch myself. We are still in an early stage of our growth and I find everything about the business fascinating. Being so involved from day one, allows you to completely understand how every department works, as you have done everything! As you get bigger, and the team grows around you, communication between the team is the key to success – being able to trust your colleagues and creating a great team culture whilst still inspiring them. We have a tight-knit team and ideas flow between us all – I feel like a conductor in a West End theatre performance, controlling all the elements that make a spectacular show, from the actors on stage, the timing of the band and seamless coordination of production backstage! As a growing team, I see the importance of focusing my energy and limited time in the areas where I can add most value! Luckily for me they are the ones I enjoy the most, and what make our brand unique. They are all related to my vision behind the brand and protecting Pepa & Co.’s authenticity, working closely with Digital Marketing and Product Design.
WHAT IS YOUR SOURCE OF INSPIRATION AND MOTIVATION?
My inspiration comes from my large Spanish family and British family in-law. This nostalgic inspiration is evident in the designs that we offer. We create timeless and smart styles, rich with both Spanish and British heritage.
Children clothing in Spain has an enormous focus on craftsmanship. Older women in the family were always making beautiful garments for the new baby in the family, using old techniques. Hand-embroidered dresses, hand-knitted sets for newborn babies, beautiful delicate lace blouses and many other unique pieces that some of us are lucky to keep as heirloom pieces. Those old techniques are sadly being lost through the generations, which is one of my main motivations to keep building the Pepa & Co. brand.
IF YOU COULD HAVE ANY OTHER JOB IN THE WORLD WHAT WOULD IT BE?
It’s hard to answer that when you love what you do. I see myself again as entrepreneur for a different project that also involves me being creative. I have loved travelling with Mike (my husband and business partner) to countries and areas not as well developed, where we get lost on a motorbike in remote, untouched areas and my imagination runs wild thinking of thousands of ways we could be help and get involved with that community. Definitely using my skills to help others would be something I would enjoy doing.
IF YOU COULD DO SOMETHING DIFFERENTLY IN YOUR CAREER WHAT WOULD IT BE?
I was recently thinking how, as teenagers we prepare ourselves for life at school, and then end up finally having a completely different career, which bears no resemblance to what we have studied! We end up using key skills, that many of our teachers didn’t even know that we possess. I did an economics degree at University, maybe I should have done something more creative, although saying that it has taught me about business!
I firmly believe it is important to learn through absolutely everything we do in life and never underestimate the job or tasks you are doing regardless how boring it may be! It will also help you establish what tasks you prefer and where your strengths lie, as that will help drive your career to where you want to be. I think building a successful professional career requires you to be open to every opportunity and think out of the box, not follow the status quo. As mentioned before, I would like to work with humanitarian projects.
WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF AND YOUR COMPANY IN 10 YEARS’ TIME?
I see our company maintaining the same essence that we have now and expanding to other countries that are in love with our brand. We will have a bigger team with more resources, more warehouses and distribution hubs around the world, so we can continue to supply quality clothing in a more sustainable and efficient way. I still see myself involved in some areas of the company, more on the creative and product side, ensuring we keep up the Pepa & Co. brand ethics. I can see us enjoying this more advanced stage of our company’s development.
WHAT DOES SUCCESS LOOK LIKE TO YOU?
For me, success is when you are free and able to make decisions in life that make you and your family happier and allow you to enjoy every single day that life has to offer you.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR ANY YOUNG ENTREPRENEURS LOOKING TO START THEIR OWN BUSINESS?Make sure you are truly passionate about your business idea and why you are starting this business. It’s not just about making money! That passion is the only thing that will remain when you are lacking energy and will help you through the ups and downs when things don’t go as expected. When you create something, your customers need and make their life easier and happier, your company will work and the money will eventually come.
Use your common sense every day, listen to who inspires you and care about what you do, but its super important to follow your gut instinct and make quick decisions. You are the one who knows your company best.
Understand that starting your own company is not easy. It requires lot of commitment and sacrifice from the founder’s personal life. You will soon realise that being your own boss will give you the dangerous ability of working all the time! At the same time, it can also become your most wonderful addiction in life! Make sure you keep healthy mentally and physically, and always remain positive.