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Smashing The Ceiling

Dec 3, 2018

Laura Bartlett is a one-woman entrepreneurial whirlwind. In a world that said print journalism is dead, Laura stuck two fingers up to the status quo and founded House Of Coco, a luxury travel and fashion magazine for the "nomadic adventure seeker", of which she is also editor-in-chief. It is, quite simply, beautiful, and there's a reason it's now stocked in Harrods and Selfridges.

When you see the stunning photos of places she travels, Laura's life looks pretty great from the outside, but her career has by no means always been plain sailing. By her mid-twenties Laura had started two successful businesses and taken one to the Dragons' Den (of which more in this episode), but she then made what she thought at the time was a smart business decision that unfortunately led to the subsequent failure of her first magazine, Urban Coco which went into liquidation. Laura was, as she says, pretty broke at this point. Surely starting another magazine wasn't a good idea? Think again. 

Laura's infectious enthusiasm, can-do attitude and overwhelming positivity were really striking to me in this interview. She is not one to lie down or be crushed, even after humiliation on national television. I for one was really inspired by her and was delighted to learn that this week she has been nominated for the 'Outstanding Entrepreneur' award at the Northern Power Women Awards. Good luck Laura! 

Show notes

In this episode we discuss:

  • What Laura wanted to be when she grew up
  • Applying for her first job with no experience and landing a role as a media sales executive
  • Developing her skills in sales and advertising and getting through the ‘no’s’ to get to the ‘yes’
  • Her first business selling handbags via Facebook, and her establishment of a pop-up shop in Birmingham
  • The founding of Urban Coco, a fashion magazine distributed in Leeds, and her her subsequent appearance on Dragon’s Den
  • Resilience, coming back from a bruising experience on television and picking herself up to launch the magazine internationally on news stands the same weekend that the show aired (it was a sell-out by the way!)
  • Going to the Clothes Show Live as a media partner, investing all her money and energy into the event and losing everything on one big gamble. 
  • Starting from a point of bankruptcy to launch House Of Coco, utilising existing content and having the audacity to start a new magazine
  • Running a business without any external investment, and how to generate a profit without having to pitch to investors
  • The practicalities of running a team of 30 people remotely and Laura manages and mentors her team
  • Finding their niche in the industry as a high-end brand that is fearless, brave and honest, but being cautious in the 
  • What’s next for House of Coco, and launching the magazine in Leeds and New York in addition to London
  • Developing #TeamCoco and the #TeamCocoGang, and Laura’s aims for the future in growing a community of brand ambassadors and supporting them in their side hustles
  • The challenges of being a freelancer in the travel industry
  • Being a female leader and developing her career as a young woman in the publishing and magazine industry
  • New trends for destinations in 2019 and the team Laura has on board with different interests which give complementary views on the world
  • Self care in a world of ‘busy fools’, and having ‘Me dates’ such as a solo trip to the cinema or a massage as a reward to herself