First One In, Last One Out: In the Shoes of an Entrepreneur Written by Janan Leo, Founder & Creative Director of Cocorose London
I'm often asked about how and why I set up Cocorose London and what it's like running my own business. As an entrepreneur in the fashion industry, the glamour and glitz often mask the daily highs and lows that go on behind the scenes and the whole-hearted team effort that goes into creating a beautiful, international brand. My passion here is to unfold the emotions that run with every step of being my own entrepreneur and to lay bare what it's like being in my shoes. Find me on twitter @jananleo with the hashtag #InMyCocorose.
Last Friday the 8th of January marked the 2016 nominations announcement for the British Academy Film Awards and, as official Gift Partners to the prestigious event, Cocorose London were invited to attend along with members of the Press and other Partners.
Starting at 7am that first Friday back from the Christmas and New Year break, it was definitely a challenging feat to rise at such an early hour, but the excitement of the nominations that would be presented by Stephen Fry and Gugu Mbatha-Raw made the cold and bleak morning start bearable. Not to mention the bacon and sausage sandwiches and cups of tea that BAFTA do so incredibly well.
As I headed towards Piccadilly on the tube, I reflected on the partnership that we have with BAFTA. It was a surreal moment when I stopped to think and realized that it's been seven years since we first became an official Gift Partner to the British Academy Film Awards. I still remember the mixture of emotions that I experienced when everything had been confirmed; excitement, stress, disbelief and pride that accompanied that poignant moment. It was 2009, two years after I had founded Cocorose London. I was still working my full time job as NPD Manager for Virgin Trains and focusing on building the business in my spare time. Gareth had just joined Cocorose full time, so he managed the process with Linda and Louise and I caught up with all the details during my lunch hours and in between mapping out customer experience journeys for Virgin Trains' customers. Thank goodness for my BlackBerry which kept me on track.
For each of the previous six and this coming 7th year that our signature, foldable shoes have been in the Gift Bags, we've stretched ourselves and gone all out to create a limited edition design, whether it had red lining to signify the red carpet, a special presentation box or a completely new and unique style, exclusively for the Gift Bags. I won't stretch the truth and say that it's ever been an easy task to ensure the smooth run of events, from design to production to logistics; we've certainly had our fair share and more of obstacles and challenges to cross but like wine, with each year that passes, our process matures and runs smoother.
In the autumn of 2012, we created our campaign called London Unfolded. It was brilliant but incredibly hard work. We traipsed around London interviewing and shooting continuously for days through the unpredictable London weather. We worked day and night to get the copy and layout done. And our reward? We stood for hours outside tube stations handing out beautifully printed and pressed copies of London Unfolded to passing commuters. Since those days, I always make a point to ensure I politely accept or decline when I'm handed a flyer. I know it's not an easy job.
Saying that, it wasn't the first time I handed out flyers to passing trade. It reminded me of when I first started Cocorose London and to help spread the word, I would hand out flyers at Highgate tube station to the morning rush hour.
Back to London Unfolded. Nevermind the hard work involved, the numb fingers we had from the bitter cold or the ridiculously early morning starts to beat the rush hour so we could place ourselves 'just so' outside the tube stations, hustling alongside Metro and Stylist for the pucker positions. The reward and buzz I felt from being able to communicate the culmination of months of work and effort was absolutely invaluable. We created it, from concept to launch. We made it happen. And we were creatively informing thousands of customers about Cocorose London.
Over the next two years, we would evolve our concept and create beautifully shot and edited London Unfolded videos which would explore - or unfold - the lives of our Cocorosers in London. London Unfolded. I'm really proud of these videos and our team did an amazing job with them. You can watch the videos and see our very first London Unfolded campaign here and read our further blog posts here on the inspiration behind each of our shoe names and how we've been unfolding the different areas of our wonderful city of London.
Going full circle, I arrive back at where I started. The BAFTA Gift Bag. This year, we're giving two very lucky Cocorosers the opportunity to win one of these highly covetable Gift Bags. They're not easy to come by, so do take the chance and enter. You never know and it could just be you. We'll be launching the competition page on our website soon so stay tuned for further information.
To see the full list of this year's BAFTA Nominations, check out www.bafta.org and don't forget to tune in live on Sunday February 14th at 7.35pm GMT on BBC1.