Welcome to the first interview in the Inspirational Women Series, I am delighted to bring you a few snippets of my my chat with Miranda Dunn who is a mother, entrepreneur and an all round lovely human being.
Miranda is in one of those people that just your brightens up your day, she breezes in full of energy and warmth and is genuinely interested in what others have to say. I met Miranda at an art fair a while ago and I was curious about the woman behind the Happy Coat of Instagram fame. Miranda has over 20 years experience in fashion and manufacturing and is now a brand in her own right. She regularly creates fashion lines for high profile brands such as ASOS, M.i.h., Anthropologie, John Lewis and Laura Ashley. She is most proud of the fact that her company manufactured the entire Team GB collection for the 2012 Paralympics! This mighty lady lives in West London with her husband Tom and their 4 young children. I persuaded Miranda to meet me for brunch at The Farm Girl Cafe and give me the lowdown on running a business and managing a busy home life.
Did you always know you wanted to work in fashion and develop your own brand?
Not quite… I had a job in a clothes shop at the age of 14, I remember folding clothes one day and thinking that I would really like to run my own business one day. My school was very academic and we were discouraged from doing anything creative so I ended up doing a degree in Geography which has actually been surprisingly useful in my career as a clothing manufacturer!
Whilst I was at university I took a part-time job in Joseph which became a full time position after I graduated. Then I moved to Whistles where I ran the concessions within other stores and eventually trained as a buyer at BHS. After that I took a job with a clothing manufacturer until I decided to setup my own business.
What drove you to setting up Miranda Dunn London?
Having a family was the catalyst for me, people had been telling me to set up on my own for years but I didn’t really give it serious consideration until I had children. By the time my second child was born and my eldest was about to start school I realised that I had a choice to make: I could either spend my time working and commuting or I could set up on my own and be around for my children. We only had two children at this point but we know we wanted a bigger family so something had to change. I still wanted to work, I need the challenge and the creative outlet that my work provides but it had to be on my terms so I set up Miranda Dunn London.
Never give up, have fun and stick with the nice guys!
How do you manage a demanding business with being a mother of four?
I have some help of course, my mother is a tremendous support but working for myself gives me the flexibility to be around for my children, I am able to do the school run most days and I love that. I also make my own health and wellbeing a priority because I firmly believe that I have to be strong and well in order to look after my children properly, work effectively and enjoy life.
I generally have a positive attitude and I like to find solutions to problems. If something is out of my control I try not to worry about it which really helps in times of stress or when things become a bit chaotic.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about starting their own business or making a career change?
My parents always encouraged us ( Miranda has three siblings) to have a go and taught us not to be afraid of failure. I would encourage you to be brave, listen to others and be flexible with your vision. Being able to adapt to new situations will help you to deal with unexpected situations. Never ever give up, have fun and above all always stick with the nice guys!
Miranda’s life rules
Start the day right: I make a green juice that I share with my husband Tom every day. I believe in nurturing mind, body and spirit. I have a very creative job which feeds my mind, I exercise regularly and make a conscious effort to eat healthy food. I have a strong faith and that means a lot to me too, I like to think it sets a good example for my children.
Allow yourself half an hour of worry time every day – when I get up and usually whilst I am making a cup of tea I think about the day ahead and go through a mental list of the things that I’ll have to do. I am a problem solver so I am always looking for solutions, I act on the things I can change and try not to worry about the things I can’t change or influence.
See every day as an adventure – I make plans of course but I try to ‘enjoy the walk along the way’, it helps me to deal with all the curve balls that life throws at you with a positive attitude.
Last thing you brought – Embroidered dungarees by Needle and Thread
Last supper – avocado
Can’t live without – my phone
Style staple – skinny jeans in all their guises
Best piece of advice – make an adventure out of the ordinary and have a laugh!
You can but one of Miranda’s Happy Coats here. Each coat is completely bespoke using the highest quality faux fur.