So last week I had the luxury of meeting Henry Holland; designer of House of Holland along with his PR agent Caroline Adams. They make a great team as they spoke of their working relationship and of Henry’s climb to success. Caroline has been the head of Global Public Relations at Top Shop for 2 years and counting and has previously worked for The Communications Store where she met Henry.
Henry and Caroline’s working relationship has quite a hilarious start. When Caroline was informed about working on the Henry Holland account, her first response was “ARE YOU JOKING? NO!” Her perception of Henry was just a silly party boy. It has now been about 8 years working together and experiencing the growth of the brand. “You have to have emotional intelligence” Caroline wisely advised as she spoke on a few important things on being a great PR agent. You also have to be able to read situations. “I know when to say to Henry that something is not going to work vs I need to massage that first and see how it goes” she added.
Henry initially went into Journalism with the intent to write about fashion. He started out doing internships for any job offer that pretty much had the word ‘fashion’ in the title. One of these internships was at teen magazine in which he found extremely easy. He stayed there for about four years as he enjoyed the fun environment and passionate working team. He later moved on to another teen magazine titled “Bliss”. During his time at Bliss he started making T-shirts, and luckily this was in the ‘new rave’ trending times for London; everyone wore neon and everything was as such including glow sticks, whistles, etc. This all started out as something for him and his friends to work on as he would make slogan tees about celebrities that he idolized. 20 of each of these tee designs were produced and he and his friends would wear them in clubs. Henry also send a shirt to the people who were the subject of the tees. His career completely started to change around this time as Gareth Pugh who was also an inspiration for a tee, came out at the end of his fashion show to take his bow wearing one of Henry’s shirts that said “Get your freak on Giles Deacon”. Giles saw that and came out the following day wearing the “Uhu Gareth Pugh” shirt by Henry. Immediately the following day, American Vogue interviewed Henry and that was the big moment and the start of his new beginnings. “I was really lucky in many perspectives” henry voiced.
As time progressed with his T-shirt designs, Lulu Kennedy reached out to Henry about doing a show for London Fashion Week East & Man. This was his first show and now it’s now 10 years and 22 shows later. Henry believes it was a twist of fate after so many years of being successful with his slogan tees. “Loads of things happen” Henry exclaimed as he backtracked on a few contributing factors to his success. He would have his old flat mate Agnes wear his shirts to her job at a bar to help promote his brand. Agnes has moved on to be famous super mode after one week of wearing his shirts. “Luck charm you may say” Henry laughingly expressed. It was only 3 months into his new beginnings before Henry registered and established himself as an official brand. He was still at the time working at bliss and getting numerous phone calls for orders. One of the first shirts he sold was via a paypal link on his myspace page. Haha! Lol at ‘Myspace’.
Henry gave credit to mentors and people in the industry along with his parents that encouraged and motivated him in his new endeavours. On the other hand, there was much to be proud of for the things he figured out for himself which gave him a push in feeling polished and fearless in doing anything, although he still faces trouble calling himself a ‘designer’ and prefers to call himself a brand.
There are no moments in which Henry feels that he has ‘made it’ and doesn’t think that will ever happen.
“You’re never going to be the biggest brand in the world, you’re never going to be the best designer in the world so you’re always learning and growing and evolving and improving”. ~Henry Holland~
If he could do it all over again he would. It’s been hard at times as an entrepreneur for Henry but it pays off and out outweighs the odds. He is also a bit strong minded to return and work for others although he enjoyed the times that he did. “What advice would you give yourself now?” he was asked. “Be a bit more patient” he responded. He expressed starting with having big ideas for his brand and he wanted it ‘tomorrow’. He commented having to learn that there is a process before getting to the end product. “I would learn to do one thing at a time” he continued to add.
Does he do it for the love or the money? Hmmm..
He does it for the love of course! Having a business is considered “your baby” in Henry’s perspective. You reinvest in it over and over again to make it bigger and better than the last season. If there’s money to be have you tend to spend it on the business and the growth of it. Taking every opportunity has been one the keys reasons to Henry’s growing success. In addition, he advised that being too precious about certain things and realizing what’s important is also essential. Everyone is essential from the bottom to the top Henry proclaimed as he spoke out about looking down on certain people in the industry.
As per Henry’s content production; his work starts with mood-boards as he design by means of story-telling. He prides in the fact that he tells a story with his collection and shows having every season being narrative based. Not commonly like other designers who may define their clothing as evolution. Henry’s last season was driven by the theme “Dolly Parton meets Lil Kim”. Funny! I know lol.
HENRY PRANKS CAROLINE
One afternoon, just to wind Caroline up, Henry scanned a copy of The Guardian newspaper and photo-shopped his picture in as being part of the ‘splash’ diving show with Tom Daley. He then altered the caption to read ‘Henry Holland has become the 1st person to confirm his appearance on Splash”. He emailed it Caroline noting “sorry about this, I didn’t mention it”. Caroline called and basically screamed “Make this go away!” and slammed the phone. Lol! Nice one Henry!
To close the session, Henry was asked what the next step for his brand would be.
He expressed his aim is to continue to grow globally. For the last few years he has focused on Asia, Hong Kong, and China and intends to build that growth more evenly spread throughout the world. He possibly also wants to work on building his own ecommerce and online presence to reclaim the DNA behind his brand.
It was such a great afternoon being able to learn and chat with Henry and Caroline. They make a great working team indeed. Thanks guys for taking the time out to chat! A great big thanks also goes out to A New Direction for making this happen. Xo
♥ Phenomenally Kez
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