Don’t hold back – start your own business

If you’ve got a great idea for a business, don’t be afraid to give it a go. Chef turned fashion designer Maxine Thompson took a leap of faith and now has her own successful line of chef’s trousers for women called PolkaPants. She shares her best advice on starting out:

Get a mentor

It’s so important to find a mentor or someone you can trust (or someone who has gone down a similar road) to bounce ideas off. They can tell you when to stop and when you’re doing things right.

Don’t skimp on research and development 

Never underestimate the importance of research and development, and user testing. A fresh set of eyes always picks up the things that you may have overlooked. For me, it was vital to get feedback on my trousers from all shapes and sizes; bodies are all so different, which means a garment won’t ever fit or look the same on everyone.

Get to know your market

Know and understand your market. Understand the problem your market has and the need that your product will satisfy. Get to know your competitors’ price points and check out case studies – re-school yourself on your industry and what makes it tick. Find out about the ins and outs.

Put on your accountant’s hat (or get advice from one)

Budget and keep track of money and everything that you spend. Starting a business costs a lot more than you think it’s initially going to. If you aren’t great with numbers, find someone who is and enlist their help. Keeping accurate and correct accounts is tedious but at tax time, you will thank your responsible self!

Keep that chin up

Don’t get disheartened when people speak the truth. Business is a tough world. Fashion is a tough world. You need to have a thick skin and an open mind.

Don’t take on board everyone’s advice

Be prepared to take onboard people’s advice but don’t compromise on your own vision, ethics, morals or standards. In the end, only you know what’s right.

Polka Pants

Don’t rush things

Slow and steady wins the race. There’s no point rushing, it’ll only cause mistakes. It’s better to take your time and do the job properly than launch yourself into the market with a half finished product.

Be your brand

Embody it, talk about it and network. Whether you’re on the bus, catching a train or buying coffee. You never know who that person is sitting next to you, what they do, or who they know. One day that business card you swapped over coffee just might be your golden ticket.

Exercise to stay focused

 Having a healthy body makes for a healthy mind, and a clear head helps you to stay focused and motivated.

Keep believing

There’s no doubt you’ll have moments along the way where you completely doubt yourself and everything that you’re doing, but don’t give up. Work hard, persevere and believe in yourself and what you’re doing.


Got some great tips for starting your own business? Tell us in the comments below.

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Read Khoollect’s interview with Maxine Thompson.

Visit the PolkaPants website.

Find Polka Pants on Instagram – Facebook – Twitter

Photos by

Megan Cullen