Interview with founder of Rockholly, Deborah Mordain

Founder of new women’s nature-inspired brand Rockholly, Deborah Mordain speaks to Chloe Taylor about the creative journey behind the Rockholly brand, challenging the status quo of outdoorwear and her advice to keep in mind when starting your own business

Did you always have the ambition to start your own business?

I suppose I always had the ambition to challenge the status quo. I had the idea for Rockholly years ago, but my girls needed more of me at that time so I put it on the backburner. At some point though you need to make a decision to take the leap or not.

What made you take the dive to create your own brand?

After years in the industry, I really felt that some of the larger outdoor brands weren’t addressing the market for women who wanted stylish but technical outdoorwear. I thought this was a gap I could fill and do it well. Part of the reason too was the ability to set the direction of my collection, retain creative control and as a mum, retain flexibility around the hours I work.

Did you find the prospect of launching your own brand daunting?

In short, yes I suppose taking risk is always a bit daunting. I was encouraged by some of the companies and start ups around me and the female entrepreneurs juggling busy lives. I also thought to myself everybody has to start somewhere…

What has been your favourite aspect of starting your own business?

Waking up and knowing that I can set the direction and creative content of the business. I’ve learned so much about e-commerce and social media platforms, but as a creative I’ve also really enjoyed working on Instagram, it’s a really encouraging and generous platform and community. In such a short time I have already worked with some great people who love their work and if I’m honest have been really encouraging, often giving their time and going out of their way to help me as a start up. These collaborations and partnerships have really been refreshing.

How did you coin the brand name Rockholly?

I spent hours bouncing around names trying to find something that spoke of the outdoors but with a feminine slant. It was important to get it right. I’ll be honest I was constrained by the domain availability too. As soon as I landed on it I knew it was right.

How does Rockholly stand out from it’s competitors?

Our jackets are 100% waterproof, seam sealed and breathable. So all of the technical performance you would expect from an outdoor brand, but with more of a modern everyday feel.  As a small brand we are nimble and have the ability to build close relationships with our customers and we take care to always speak to them directly and get their feedback which is invaluable to us.

What does the next year look like for Rockholly?

I am busy developing new products for winter, including a cosy warm Parka using Primaloft recycled insulation.  I’ll also be looking ahead to next summer’s designs, looking to grow the range and style options.

What is your favourite way to style the jackets?

I am a busy mum, often rushing from the school run to work, so my everyday style is casual and minimal.  I love skinny jeans and probably own more striped t-shirts than necessary!  My Rockholly coat is perfect to chuck on top of whatever I am wearing and eliminates the problem of holding a brolly whilst pushing the buggy!

What advice would you give to anyone with a business idea?

It’s a probably a bit early for me to be advising other people on starting up as of the time of writing I am just about to launch. But these are things that I keep in mind as I go. Firstly I’d say do what you love as that will come across in your product/service and life is too short not to. I suppose I’d ask – is what you are thinking of a viable business? Ensure you have researched your business thoroughly and have a well crafted business plan together with a sound financial model to answer that question. Ask business leaders to question your business and learn from their feedback and comments. Ask how you are going to fund and build your business and pay close attention to cashflow. Accept mistakes as part of the process and accept there will be days when you will have to get through set back after set back (I’ve already had a few!). Then I’d say in the course of your day, stop, breathe – appreciate what you have and what you have done, give yourself a pat on the back and enjoy it.

The new outdoor brand that retails coats fusing style and function has just launched – check out the brand-new website!

Photographer: Christopher Owens
Make up: Josephine Birkett
Hair: Rebecca Dixon