Heather Glover is the human embodiment of “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” Not only did she survive breast cancer, she began to thrive when lightning struck to start her own company with a very niche market. She shares how her and Kate (co-founder) started their company and what awaits Skarlette in the near future as a brand.
How was Skarlette established?
I lost my breasts due to breast cancer, and I chose not to undergo reconstruction surgery. Thus, I live flat-chested. It was frustrating trying to find pretty lingerie to embrace my flat body. I asked my friend Kate, whose hobby was creating and sewing, if she could design and create a flat bra for me which sympathised with my scars and areas of sensitivity. Kate listened, understood and created a beautiful piece of lingerie. When I fastened the hooks and looked in the mirror, I was blown away with emotion – adoration, femininity, strength and beauty. Skarlette was born and was crafted to be shared with others.
How was your personal experience becoming a first-time entrepreneur?
Having no previous business expertise, Kate and I spoke to friends and family who could help. We accepted all advice and connections and were extremely grateful for such support. We were fortunate to benefit from the Innovate EDGE UK programme and NatWest Accelerator programme, which have both provided all aspects of business coaching for the last 12 months. Personally, Kate and I would not have achieved what we have without this support. However, we have always been very open to advice and feedback and have been praised for our response to these. This year, we have been selected as finalists in the Enterprise Vision Awards 2022 for a new start-up business in the Northwest of England, and also the Best Businesswoman Awards 2022 in the new business category.
What hurdles did you face, and how did you best overcome them?
We have faced many challenges and expect many more to come our way, but two of the biggest hurdles so far have been finances and personnel:
- We needed more finances than we had. Through conversations with friends, who were interested in our progress and our growing business, investment loans were offered because they believed in us, we did not need to ask.
- In our naivety, we went into business with a third party who we really did not know well enough. When it became clear their passion, work ethic and ethos for the company were not aligned, we went our separate ways.
Another big challenge has been securing affordable UK manufacturers. We never gave up. We have spoken to many people and businesses, explored every option and are proud to say we continue to manufacture in the UK.
What does Skarlette mean to you?
Skarlette means everything to Kate and I because we have invested so much time and effort around our part time jobs. Our families and friends have offered such support, they are invested too – we are very passionate about making our business a huge success. Since Skarlette has such an impact on our customers, we are more driven than ever to continue growing our business, evolving our designs and offering a greater range of products. This way we can continue with our vision – to create the most desirable lingerie and swimwear for those who are flat-chested all over the world.
At Skarlette, you aim to empower women and boost their confidence. Why is this an important aspect of your business?
A woman is not defined by the size of her breasts, cleavage, or her body shape. Our mission is to help flat-chested women feel good about themselves, to feel beautiful and desirable. By having access to attractive lingerie, they have this choice. Starting small has been our only option, however, as we grow, our size range is expanding to be more inclusive; our designs are increasing to appeal to more people; our price point is maintained within an affordable bracket, and we are including transgender people together with breast cancer sufferers and naturally flat chested women when we design our products.
“Give a job to a busy person and they’ll get it done!”
How do you effectively manage your time as a mother and business owner?
Both of us have a child at school which comes with a string of commitments.. We have our families, our part-time jobs and our hobbies, alongside our Skarlette work. I am an active ambassador for the charity Prevent Breast Cancer – which we support through our many events and social media content. Everyone could do with more hours in the day. We are both passionate, driven and reliable and we understand and respect each other – this makes managing our time much more effective.
What feedback from customers made you feel sure of your success as a business?
Our public reviews endorse what we are doing. The personal messages we receive from customers, or their partners/family members, often bring us to tears. The gratitude in those messages more than reassures us that Skarlette will only grow in success. We have many requests for further product development because people are investing in our business, and we have a passion to deliver. The knowledge that our brand is accomplishing things that have not been done before, and the positivity received from our customers, makes us feel sure of the future.
What does the future hold for Skarlette?
In the immediate future, we will be launching the first of the swimwear range, which is exciting. In the longer term, we plan to have our own factory in the North West of England. This is ambitious, but within our vision, as we will ultimately provide more than lingerie and swimwear. We will continue to support the charity Prevent Breast Cancer, and once profitable, we will be sending more regular donations to the charity. Skarlette has collaborated with C-Lash in the nearer term, to bring the North West Cancer Awards to Cheshire this October, with the purpose of recognising and celebrating our local unsung heroes in the cancer community.