In our latest edition of ‘Ladies Who Launch’, Vanessa Jacobs, entrepreneur and founder of luxury repairs service The Restory, talks overused accessories, entrepreneurship lessons and weekend hobbies.
1) What was your inspiration behind The Restory?
The idea for, what would eventually become, The Restory was initially seeded when a high-street cobbler unapologetically ruined the heels on my favourite power boots hours before an interview. And while less dramatic, some version of this kept happening every time I took my shoes in. I thought there must be an easy way but I never found it. Eight years later I decided to create it myself.
2) Have you always had a passion for luxury accessories?
I’ve always loved shoes and bags but more broadly, I’ve always been quite strategic with my wardrobe. I’ve always tried to buy the best I could despite my budget. By definition, this meant I owned a bit less and had to look after what I had better.
3) Shoes or bag – if you had to choose which is more important to your overall look?
For me personally, the shoes are the main part of the outfit and the bag is the thing that ties it all together.
4) What was your line of work before setting up the business?
My CV looks like an EKG. I started my career producing TV commercials. I started a production company called Film Chicks with two girlfriends. Then I decided I needed to grow up so I went to work for Barry Diller at USA interactive which was one of the only media companies at the time that was catching onto the internet. I ran all of their entertainment websites. From there I got an MBA in finance and to pay off the loans I went to Wall Street. I worked in both Investment Banking and Equity Research. When I got to London I spent 8 years as a management consultant with Accenture.
5) What has been your proudest moment since establishing The Restory?
Closing my first round of financing primarily from clients was a great testament to that people believed in what I was trying to do. Getting praise from senior editors at Vogue and others in the fashion elite is always very thrilling too. But on a day to day basis, the biggest buzz is when a client takes the time to tell me that s/he feels like they have new shoes/a bag all over again.
6) What are the 3 biggest business lessons you’ve learnt as an entrepreneur?
First, whatever your idea is, just start. Even if it’s on some rudimentary level because your idea will change and evolve and change in ways you can’t anticipate before you actually get there.
Second, cash burns so so so fast – scrutinise every bit of spend and what you’re going to get for it.
Third, growing your venture will require every bit of you; your mind, your relationships, your body, everything. It essential to preserve and enhance your physical and mental energy at all times. For example, I go on Facebook maybe once a week these days because I can’t deal with the world-is-falling-apart energy.
7) Would you do anything differently if you were starting again?
Plenty but the biggest was that the predecessor business to The Restory was a retail based business. That was a huge and expensive mistake.
8) What is the main piece of advice would you would you give to a female entrepreneur starting out?
- As above, don’t miss an opportunity to engage about it. Tell your friends, start an Instagram/Twitter feed about it, talk to people. They will help bring shape and focus to your idea.
- Spend as very little as you need to.
- It’s going to take twice as long and cost three times as much – prepare accordingly.
- Sounds cliché but trust your gut
9) When recruiting members of your team what are the characteristics you look for?
Everyone must must must love providing a fantastic experience to clients. Then they must have a serious appreciation for the products we look after and the craft behind it.
On the atelier side of the business, we look for very detail oriented and patient people. On the client service side of the business, we also look for attention to detail, a passion for service excellence, a bit of charm and a quiet confidence.
For marketing, we look for creativity, organisation and hustle muscle.
10) How do you relax after a busy week?
Manicures/pedicures, exercise and wine!
The kids force you to shut off to an extent too – they don’t care that you have things to do.
11) Finally, what’s your favourite nail colour right now?
I love having my nails done. Seriously. If they aren’t done I feel the wheels are coming off the bus.
90% of the time I have some sort of red – brighter in the warmer months and some shade of deep red in the colder months. Whenever I try something new, I am always slightly disappointed. I must be getting old and set in my ways.