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Flashback to 1984: Catching up with Gillian Naylor

Wed, 11 June 2014

In 1984, Gillian Naylor won a Shell LiveWIRE award with her business, Repeat Repeat. We caught up with her to find out more about her entrepreneurial journey…
What can you remember about your involvement with Shell LiveWIRE?
It was great meeting people in the same boat as ourselves – young, inexperienced, little business knowledge and not really knowing what we were doing. Our fellow contestants were an inspiration. They were enthusiastic, energetic and full of ideas.
There were many different types of people with a rich variety of business ideas, in totally different fields than ourselves. Sharing everyone’s good experiences was an inspiration, and sharing bad experiences was very useful in anticipating possible future pitfalls.
 
How have things changed for you since you won your Shell LiveWIRE award?
It's been 27 years since we won the award so things have changed considerably since then!
 
We began as a design company that manufactured our own ranges of textiles and plastic furnishings. Being based in Stoke-on-Trent, the heart of the Potteries, it was not long until we added Bone China Mugs to our range. The Bone China became a success and we have being designing and manufacturing Contemporary Bone China ever since!

                      Repeat Repeat
Gillian Naylor and Mark Faulkner of Repeat Repeat.
 
How have you had to adapt as an entrepreneur over the years?
‘Adapt’ being the operative word. We had to constantly adapt our designs to suit different design trends. We had to adapt to the constraints of the manufacturing processes. We had to adapt to the fluctuations in the strength of Sterling which affected our export market, and we had to adapt to changes in buying trends. Being able to adapt is invaluable.
 
What has been the biggest obstacle you have overcome in business?
We were very young, naive and insecure when we first started in business. Our designs were very unusual at the time. Suppliers and potential customers did not understand what we were trying to do and did not take us seriously, which can be very disheartening. Youthful exuberance, and a firm belief in what we wanted to achieve got us through the tough early years. 
 
What are your top three tips for a young entrepreneur who is about to set up in business?
  1. Try your very best to do more than is expected of you.
  2. Try your very best to do more than is expected of you.
  3. Try your very best to do more than is expected of you!
Shell LiveWIRE UK has been running for over 30 years. If you have been involved with the programme at any point and would like to share your story, please contact Emily Carlson at
emily.carlson@shell-livewire.org.

 
 
 

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