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Name: Amber Kotrri 

Name of Business: House of Zana 

What does your business do? Handmade clothing 

Please provide a short summary of where you went to school and what jobs you did before setting up your business 

I have worked in many jobs from a waitress when I was in college, (Stockton Riverside) to retail during summer holidays, I worked for Hardwick Live Festival when it first started and I started my first business when I went to York St John University. I spent my student loan on wholesale clothing that I then sold online or to Uni students. I worked as a cleaner and then a nanny alongside my Masters studies in Italy. I think having a variety of jobs across different sectors is very important in order to learn what it is you do and don’t like.  I learnt a lot about myself, customer experiences and the world outside of education settings, all of which gave me a good foot into the world of long term employment. I also volunteered in a hospice running art classes and tried numerous hobbies from joining a running club to a Church group. It is this mixture of experience that helped me to set up my business. 

What inspired you to set up your own business? 

I think I always knew that I would work for myself. From early on I didn’t feel I fit into the traditional learning settings and I wasn’t planning to go to college. However I decided to study Art as it was always my passion and I absolutely loved college and then university as it was independent learning through my own choice. So I went from wanting to skip school to staying all the extra hours I could in college and onwards. I put my all into my college and uni work as I do my business, it is the freedom and creativity that I love.

What do you enjoy most about running your own business and what don’t you enjoy? 

I love working with my team and sharing ideas, excitement and the vision to grow. Running a business can be lonely so having people around you to share thoughts is fundamental to me. I really don’t enjoy the email, admin side of the business so I try to pass those tasks on to those more capable when I can. I feel in order to get the best from your time in business it is important to delegate any tasks you don’t enjoy early on so you can put your energy into growing the business. I love my job so much that I never feel like I am at work. 

What are the top 3 skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur? 

I think it was Churchill who said ‘Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm’. This is what is needed to be an entrepreneur. The strength to never give up even on those days where you can’t see a way up. Some days are hard but some are fantastic and if you believe in your business and you want to grow your idea you have to stick at it through thick and thin. 

What advice would you give young people who are thinking of setting up their own business? 

Do it. If you have thought about it and you have the dream then something within you is entrepreneurial and so try. What is the worst that can happen? you fail? Try again. I had many jobs, many businesses, not all have worked out but I will never give up. Having your own business is full of surprises, take my recent legal battle with fast fashion giants Zara. That was a very stressful and unknown time but what got me through was my belief in my brand and determination to win. Then in winning it has opened up so many new opportunities for the business. It is all about the journey and to me that is what I enjoy the most.