Hello, I’m Hanna Sillitoe - author, entrepreneur and mum to my one year old, Freddie.
I’m so excited to share my ‘Day in the Life’ with you. Not just because I’m incredibly proud of
everything that’s enabled us to create the life we’re living, but because I want to highlight the
opportunity to work a little differently in the hope of inspiring change. Whether you’re looking to
switch careers, or considering quitting the 9-5 entirely to build your own enterprise, I want to
share the amazing opportunities that await. In short... don’t hesitate, just do it!
To give you a super-condensed overview on how I got here; nine years ago I wrote a book
detailing my personal journey healing eczema through diet and lifestyle change. My book, and the
results people achieved through implementing the changes I shared, eventually led to my natural
skincare range. In 2019 I told my story on BBCs Dragons Den, receiving offers from all five
Dragons and ultimately going on to work with Tej Lalvani and Peter Jones. Fast forward three
years, my little boy Freddie is one year old, my skincare range is stocked in over 500 Holland and
Barrett stores, and my big focus for this year is growing and expanding my brilliant team from our
new workspace in Cheshire.
Pitching on Dragons Den in 2019
When it comes to what a typical office looks like these days, we’re living through unusual times. For some companies, the traditional concept of a strict 9-5 sat at a desk has become redundant. Replaced instead by a hybrid model of hot-desking and flexible home working. My vision was to take things a bit the other way. For me, Covid highlighted the importance of people connections. Whilst I embrace the convenience of a zoom call, there’s something so lovely about sitting in the same physical space as another human. Making actual eye contact, laughing, joking, brainstorming and sharing cups of tea - in real life. I wanted to make our office such a fantastic space that staff would want to come in, rather than asking to work from home.
Up until last year I did almost everything in the company. I built the website, replied to customers, processed orders, handled social media, wrote our adverts and more! I struggled to let go. It’s hard taking those first steps to hand control over to someone else. I also know it’s essential for growth. The great thing is, I’ve had experience in all these roles, so when we’re interviewing candidates I know exactly what we’re looking for.
The one thing I am adamant about is that Freddie will always be at the centre of everything I do. He comes to work with me, we travel to exhibitions together, he sits in on interviews, joins Zoom calls, and is of course chief product tester for our baby range. My plan is to grow our company together. Coming from a family where both parents independently ran businesses, I spent many a weekend reluctantly accompanying my mum or dad to work. Never really making the connection that all those hours they dedicated to their respective companies paid for the food on our table and the lovely holidays each summer. As a ten year old you’re not really that philosophical are you! Life is black and white and the truth is, being sat in a shop was pretty boring. I never want Freds to feel that way about coming with me to work and I never want to feel I’m restricted from going into work because of Freddie. It has to suit both of us.
The moment we began looking for a workspace, I set us a mission; to find a place that could double as a grown up office, as well as Freddie’s play den. I wanted it to be so much fun that Freds face would light up at the idea of going to work, rather than dread it! We found that space just before Christmas last year and signed up to move in in January.
I love what we’ve done with the office - which is a good thing since most days are spent there! Freddie definitely has the lions share of the floor-space. He’s got his own busy-board with push lights, sliding locks and switches. We found a squishy foam play mat that perfectly fits his corner and furnished it with a soft bean bag, cosy blankets and an ever changing rotation of colourful toys.
Freddie loves his chilled corner of the office
The location itself is a dream. Certified B-Corp, with an emphasis on staff wellbeing, we have a yoga shanti, forest trails, a shower space that makes my bathroom look outdated, and scooters to effortlessly dart between buildings. To simply call it an office does it a big disservice, because it offers so much more. I love the little extras. Collaborative puzzles in each communal kitchen (we’re all encouraged to fit the pieces together). Complimentary fruit in well stocked bowls on every floor - Freds loves snaffling the bananas! I joke that I go to work for the food and views, but it really does make up a big part of our day. Taking time out on the nature trails and enjoying fresh salads from the cafe. As a busy mum, I feel as though my wellbeing is taken care of at work - and that’s definitely a rarity.
When it comes to what my average week in this workspace looks like, I’m very fortunate that every day looks different. Our focus at the moment is on finalising Freddie’s baby range. New product development is one of the most fun parts of what we do. I love the creative aspects of everything from formulating the perfect product to designing eye-catching packaging. Last month we travelled to exhibitions in Sweden and the Middle East. We met distributors in Dubai (Freds was more excited about the outside pool!) We’re interviewing lots of people for various different roles right now, we’re chatting to influencers about growing our social media offering, we’re working on skin positivity campaigns, extensive dermatological testing and sorting our FDA paperwork to sell in the USA. Every day is busy and I’m really hands-on, but it’s such a lovely space to be hands-on in!
Nest at Alderley Park. Coming to work has never felt so chilled!
Who’s to say I can’t run a company and care for my little one? Is it really still taboo to breastfeed on a Zoom call? It’s 2023 - anything is possible! I like inspiring change, doing things my way and you know what the most amazing thing is .. rather than push-back or query it, our clients and suppliers embrace it with us. It’s even led to some of them making changes to their own working practices. We women are trailblazers, we’re multitaskers, and we’re damn good at it! Let’s show the world what’s possible. Here’s to having our cake and eating it.
Best advice I’ve been given
To know my numbers. I’m still shocked by how many people pitching in the Den don’t know their basic turnover and profit. Maths isn’t my strong point, but on the day I knew those figures inside out. My dad threatened to disown me if I appeared on national television stumbling and mumbling over important numbers!! Thankfully I now have a very good, and very patient accountant.
Advice I’d give
Don’t ever feel restricted by convention. Just because certain things have been done in a certain way for a very long time, doesn’t mean there isn’t room for change. Be a trailblazer! Follow your dreams, do what makes you happy and carve new paths if the existing ones don’t match your ethos.
What I wish I’d known
How important failure would become in shaping my future. Ten years ago I lost my savings (and my sanity!!) starting an electric scooter business that failed spectacularly. I felt so disheartened. I decided the life of an entrepreneur wasn’t for me. Surely a 9-5 with holiday pay and zero stress had to be easier?! At the time that failure felt like the end of the world. In actual fact it has become one of the most valuable lessons I could have learnt to shape every project I’ve embarked on since.
Hanna’s books and skincare range is available at www.HannaSillitoe.com