What’s in a name? Everyone thinks that ‘ollie and fred’ are my kids but in fact they are my parents. They have an extraordinary zest for life, have so much energy and are a huge inspiration to me. My mum and dad both came from poor families in East Manchester and left school with very little education. By the time they were 16 they were married and had a baby, my older sister.
In 1966, when they were just 22 and my sister was 6, they drove all the way to Italy in a Hillman Minx. They had no language skills and barely any education but somehow managed to drive all the way through Belgium, France, Germany, Switzerland and Italy – on a 2 week holiday! They didn’t understand the road signs, had never seen pasta before, and had to carry five different currencies with them. They have pretty much carried on through life the same way ever since.
My mum and dad would never call themselves entrepreneurial but they are, and they’ve given me the confidence to approach life in the same way. My dad ran his own business and my mum had loads of jobs/small businesses to help make ends meet. I’ve had a lot of jobs too, and seeing my parents trying new things and not being afraid to adapt has given me the confidence to change my life and move in different directions.
After many career changes including jobs in IT, forensics (I used to be a fingerprint officer) and advertising, I had a family and spent 8 years as a stay at home mum. I didn't realise how much smaller my world had become and how much I'd lost my confidence. Once the kids were both settled at primary school I felt bored and a bit lost but I didn't want to give up the flexibility I had enjoyed for so long. I needed a job on my own terms that I could do from home - so I created one.
I don't know where the confidence came from to make a start but here I am in my mid forties learning something completely new, and I love it! I know I can trace this fearlessness back to my parents; they are proper grafters and have taught me that hard work and having a go pays off.
About the business.....
I started ollie and fred in 2018. I design and sell scarves, purses and socks.
Most of my designs are connected to music or Manchester, or both. I love being from a place with a strong identity and it's inspired me to create products that reflect the values of the city.
The idea for my music-inspired scarves came from a Charlatans T-Shirt I bought for my husband, which is green and says 'Sproston' on the front. I love the idea that if you know, you know. This T-Shirt has sparked conversations with strangers, nods of acknowledgement and some lovely connections with like-minded people.
I've always admired brands that give something back so I decided from the start that I'd donate a percentage of profit to charity. So far, I've donated over £1,500 to support the brilliant work of We Love Mcr, The Pankhurst Trust, Manchester Mind and the homelessness charity, Bed Every Night .
Why I love it......
Running your own business can be a struggle because there are so many ups and downs, but I wouldn't change a thing. I started a new brand from scratch and it's such an incredible feeling when people get it.
I love the thought of my music-inspired scarves starting a conversation and connecting strangers in the most unexpected places. My 76 year old mum (ollie) regularly wears the full collection when crown green bowling!
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