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Business in balance: Holly Anna Scarsella, founder and CEO of Pampelone Clothing

Business in balance: Holly Anna Scarsella, founder and CEO of Pampelone Clothing

The entrepreneur and mother on building a successful brand, tweaking her work/life balance (clue: military organisation is key to both) and the philosophy she hopes her children will inherit. 


Holly Anna Scarsella was packing for her honeymoon when she realised there was a gap in the market for a mid-priced, high-quality resort wear brand. She thought back to her childhood, growing up in the South of France, to the elegance of the women on the beach. That was what she wanted, but it didn’t exist. And so a brand was born. The fashion PR turned entrepreneur, displaying a formidable business brain alongside her considerable marketing experience. Pampelone launched in 2015 and quickly built momentum, becoming the go-to brand for editors and influencers (Pampelone quickly became an Instagram sensation), and a retail success story. So much so, Holly was listed as one of Forbes’ 30 under 30. Three years on, Holly balances running a business with motherhood: her one-year-old daughter, Sienna, will be joined by a new baby in April.

You've had such success with Pampelone in relatively short amount of time - were you worried about the effect of having a baby would have on your business?

100%! I thought about this all the time and felt so guilty for doing so! Obviously, my priority was being a mother, but I had spent three years cultivating and putting literally every waking hour into Pampelone Clothing so I worried how it would fare without me there every day to manage and drive forward.

Do you think the idea of 'balance' is a myth when it comes to running your own business and having children? What does it mean to you?

I'm not sure it's a myth, but rather something you can never properly achieve and be content with. It's incredibly personal for each mother/business owner, but for me it's something I've been tweaking and striving to get right for 16 months now, and I'm still getting it wrong!

I think the best piece of advice I can give is to compartmentalise your 'business hat' and spend shorter, but more productive hours working on it. Initially, I spent days on end trying to look after my daughter whilst also trying to do emails, chair meetings etc. I realised that I just wasn't getting anywhere. So I decided to get help looking after Sienna for two days a week which allowed me to work as hard as I could for those days, and I ended up achieving much more. And the rest of the week I could solely focus on being a mother - present both physically and mentally.

How do you spend time just for yourself? What are your favourite simple pleasures?

It's so incredibly boring, but my favourite small pleasure is taking 30 minutes to myself to go for a walk in the fresh air and grab a coffee...and to drink it all whilst still hot. A total mother’s cliché!

Did you put contingency plans into place for your business when you went on maternity leave? (If you can take leave when it’s your own business!) Will you do anything differently when you have your next gorgeous girl?

I definitely thought long and hard about how the business would run without me. I actually hired an amazing executive about four months pre-birth so I had enough time to hand enough over. This meant I felt relaxed and comfortable enough to take some time off without panicking about the business. It then worked really well having weekly meetings for half day to go through an agenda of pressing business and the rest took care of itself. I do think this planning helped a lot.

I really am trying to plan for my next arrival, but I feel so in the dark with how it changes from one to two children that I’m a little nervous! I'm lucky that I have an incredible team behind me.

How has your attitude towards work changed since becoming a mother?

IIt's so different! Obviously my business is still incredibly important, but you get perspective: a chance to step back and really focus on the areas of the business that matter and really need my time. I tend not to sweat the small stuff as much as I used to and that has been really positive.

What advice would you give other women wanting to build a brand/business?

For me, it's preparation and mindset. I used to do a lot of mentoring with Virgin Start Up [who gave Holly her initial start-up business loan] and I would meet hundreds of people wanting to start a business. Those with a loose idea and not much research would concern me, but those that were intelligently informed having done the necessary research in their field would always shine. But I also think mindset is almost more important than anything. You need to be positive as you face hurdles on a daily basis that you need to overcome, and you need to be a driven go-getter, willing to do what it takes to succeed.

What does your average week look like? Are you go with the flow or militarily organised?

Right now it’s my off-season for PAMPELONE so a little more flexible, but I usually dedicate Mondays and Wednesdays to my business and then the rest I'm full-time mum, with the exceptions of Sienna’s nap times, during which I'm glued to emails!

When I am working, or have events coming up, I do have to be militarily organised. It's actually a really great habit that flows across from my personal life into the professional and has helped me flourish as a business owner. It helps to keep productivity at its peak. No scrolling for hours on Instagram like I used to....

Lastly, the support and people around you are key, both business and personal. They have to understand the situations you face and be able to work flexibly to support and carry the slack where needed. I have an incredible team at Pampelone who put up with my 4am emails, last minute requests etc., and do so with a smile. I feel very lucky to have them!

What advice would you give your own girls? Do you have a philosophy you hope to pass on?

It's a cliché, but I want them to be happy - and that's in whatever field and whatever line of work they choose. But I feel it’s incredibly important to show them that the door is open for them to achieve as much as they want to in business and in life. I never want them to feel like anything is holding them back or stopping them from pursuing their dreams. I think the most important thing a mother can be is 100% and totally encouraging and supporting.

What's next for  Pampelone?

So many exciting things in the pipeline, which I cannot wait to share. We re-launch our classics and continuation collection in March and hope for a long hot summer so everyone can wear at home and abroad!


Holly Anna Scarsella
pampelone.com; @pamepeloneclothing; @hollyannascarsella


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