Spotlight on Celia Harper
Here at Spotlight, we had the opportunity to chat with Celia Harper, Founder of Junk LDN. She spoke to us about where her drive and determination comes from and also chats about what the future holds for Junk LDN.
Background - into you and your business
I spent most of my early 20s travelling southeast Asia & Australia. Where I ended up working at little bars on Cambodian beaches for local families. The kindness that the locals always showed me in developing countries like Cambodia, Bali & Thailand really stuck with me throughout all my time spent there. So when I came to learn that the fast fashion brands I was addicted to purchasing from were heavily exploiting their workers in developing countries & contributing to the breakdown of our climate I knew that I wanted to change the narrative on outsourcing labour through ethical manufacturing.
The big idea
I have always been drawn to swimwear, I think because of my many years spent travelling, working on beautiful beaches & being close to the ocean. It’s a time in my life that holds such happy memories for me and I always think this is how swimwear should make you feel. It’s an item of clothing that should hold memories of holidays with friends, swimming in the ocean, being close to nature, etc. However, I think for so many of us, shopping for swimwear can be a daunting experience. So I wanted to create a swimwear brand that was colourful and fun, but still ethical & planet-friendly, as this was the mix I could never find.
Handling finances and cash flow as a small business owner has been challenging. It was completely new to me and I have struggled a lot with it. I think we should be taught about finances in school as it would help us so much as young adults. I never realized how much time I would spend on spreadsheets and how difficult it is to turn a profit and pay yourself a salary as a small business owner.
I now use an accounting software called QuickBooks which is a lifesaver for keeping track of your expenses and cash flow. I wish I had invested in it sooner but at the start, I was strict with budgeting!
Drive and determination
The messages I receive from women who say they never felt confident until they put on my swimwear, that’s a HUGE one for me. If I can make someone feel amazing, I am happy! But
also, the fact that I can create the life I want with Junk LDN. I love that every day is different and the business allows me to be creative & choose how I spend my time.
The biggest lesson that you’ve learnt along the way
The challenges and failures you experience along the way are always beneficial in the long run. Although it feels like the end of the world at the time, they teach you the biggest lessons! I made so many mistakes in our first year which cost me so much money, but actually, these mistakes have given me so much insight into what works and what doesn’t going forward.
Tips to those starting their careers
It doesn’t matter if you don’t know everything or have all the experience, most of the things you need to know you learn on the job. The fear of not knowing is what stops so many people from just starting! Try everything out at the beginning then outsource your weaknesses & focus on what you are good at. Never underestimate how important your mindset is on your journey, if you don’t believe in yourself & back your ideas 100%, no one else will!
Advice to people who are wanting to start a business
Start as small as possible, test your idea before you invest it in by speaking to your ideal customer. Make sure you spend a lot of time defining your USP, most markets are very saturated so you need to have something that makes you stand out. Make sure your product is profitable - profit is the only thing that will keep your business going. Invest in yourself & your mindset early on!
The best and worst part of your job
The best part is seeing my ideas & designs come to fruition! Being part of the slow fashion movement and striving for positive change in the industry. Being able to do things I love every day & the fact it generally never feels like ‘work’.
The worst part is sometimes I work long hours & weekends. There’s a lot of sacrifices that go into running a business and it can be exhausting/mentally draining at times. Especially if things are going wrong, like delayed stock or lost post.
To what do you attribute your success?
I’m not sure I will ever feel ‘successful’ this is something I am working on - defining what success looks like to me! However, I do believe that it’s not one thing you do that makes you successful, it’s the little things you do, every day, that create success in the long run. Consistency is key, if you stick at something for long enough, it will pay off!
I am currently designing a whole new collection for summer 22! Our manufacturing process takes up to 8 months as there’s so much that goes into it. My dream is to turn Junk LDN into a sustainable clothing brand that doesn’t just offer swimwear, but other sustainable products too with a focus on quality, so you can love them for years to come.
What would you say to your teenage self?
Live in the present more. I worried so much as a teenager about the future. I was worried I would never figure out what I wanted to do with my life. We worry about the future so much and forget to enjoy where we are right now!