“We had to use credit cards to pay our employees”

Holly Tucker MBE is the British entrepreneur who, along with his business partner Sophie Cornish, founded Not On The High Street, the online marketplace for small retailers. She then created Holly & Co, a small business advice platform, and is the co-author of several bestselling business books. She lives in Twickenham, southwest London, with her husband and son.

What was your childhood attitude towards money?

We have talked a lot about money. My father was the CFO of General Electric and my mother was a market researcher. We lived in Wokingham, Berkshire.

It was of course privileged, but there were always money concerns. I went to a fee-paying school and there was always a lot of talk about how we were going to pay for the tuition for the next term.

Money was respected and scarce. We didn’t go to restaurants or fancy things like that, and pocket money was limited. I knew if I wanted the extra money I had to work for it.

What was your first job?

My first job was when I was 14 cleaning a pub. My poor dad would get up at 6 am on a Saturday morning and wait in the parking lot while I cleaned. It was probably illegal! I would always be careful in case someone dropped 50p on the back of the couch. I really learned to respect money at a young age.

Have you ever struggled to pay bills?

Absoutely. When we started Not On The High Street I was 28, my son Harry was only three months old and Frank, now my husband, was working full time as a police officer.

I remember dividing the money for our weekly food allowance, for our nanny, and for electricity, and I put it in three separate envelopes. It was all really, really tight and incredibly stressful. It lasted three years.

How did you start your business?

My business partner and I pooled our savings, which was next to nothing, our parents gave us small loans, we had a bank loan, and my husband had an out-of-court settlement with the police over charges. health issues – he gave all of the money for this settlement to me.

In total it came to around £ 65,000 and that’s how it started. We had to pay the staff with our credit card check books.

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