January 25, 2017

online style chat with Jennie Hogg, founder of lois avery & a cashmere giveaway!

Lois Avery Cashmere giveaway

“…the long version is that it’s taken my whole life to get here.”

Do you ever have those moments when you’re so proud of a friend’s achievement, you feel like you might literally burst?

That was exactly how I felt late last year when I saw my friend Jennie’s venture come to fruition in the form of her new business, Lois Avery. If I recall correctly, there were tears were involved when I spoke to her on launch day!

Having been let in on the idea since the beginning, I know how hard she worked to get it off the ground and I felt privileged to witness her passion, enthusiasm and drive all the way along.

I think the image above shot by Carla Coulson not only perfectly captures Jennie’s joyous persona but also represents all that Lois Avery is about.

If you want to know exactly what that is, the best person to hear it from is Jennie herself! For the latest Online Style Chat, I caught up with this sunny whirlwind of a lady to talk all things cashmere, Italy and chasing distant dreams.

Grab a coffee and prepare to be inspired!

Oh and don’t forget to enter our cashmere giveaway at the end of this post. There’s a beautiful Animal Print Bengal Kitten shawl as featured in this post…and it’s looking for a loving home…

Jennie in Italy

Lois Avery founder Jennie in Positano

How did the idea for Lois Avery first come to you and what inspired you to act on it?

The short version is that I had a light bulb moment … in the bath … whilst getting ready for a dear friend’s 40th birthday party. We gave her a scarf. In that moment I realised how much I love scarves, and how significantly they feature in my memories. The long version is that it has taken my whole life to get here. I’ve certainly had ‘Lois Avery’ in my mind for years, I just didn’t know who or what she was.

I was unhappy in my job working as a city lawyer, but I never felt I had a viable alternative. Seeing friends do great things opened my eyes. To see Laura Turner set up the beautiful boutique, hero in Stockbridge and Maleeka Robb and her business partners set up the spectacular hair salon, Four in Mayfair gave me real impetus. Their bravery and the way in which they executed their ideas inspired me – every detail was true to their values.

What was the deciding factor/tipping point for leaving your lawyer role in the city and taking the leap into becoming a start up business?

After my light bulb moment I was pretty determined and committed. I immediately devoured business books and booked onto a couple of courses at The London College of Fashion. I didn’t have an end date for my legal career, but I think a year was always on my mind.

The tipping point was probably realising that my legal career just wasn’t right for my family or me. The commuting was wearing me out, and I was not the best version of myself for some time. There were also huge industry wide changes that had a fundamental impact on my line of work.

Given the conditions of my employment contract it was never going to be an option to carry on working as a lawyer and run a business. Once we launched that was it! I had a 3 month notice period and gave notice on 8 June 2016. We launched on my twins’ 6th birthday: 28 October 2016.

Dreamy Italian boat trip wrapped in a lois avery cashmere shawl

Images by: Carla Coulsen

Tell us about your passion for Italy and how this came about and do you have a favourite Italian destination, meal and drink?

I would like to say that it was love at first sight but that would be a lie! My first trip at 15 was a disaster – I actually flew home to my native Australia early! But second time 8 years later worked a charm … My broken-hearted self met up with my Dad and Stepmother in Rome for 3 days and I fell in love again, with Rome. It was like I finally woke up.

Destination: This is a hard one because I love so many places but it would definitely be somewhere with water and cliffs. It’s actually the moments I remember most: eating lunch at Conca Del Sogno in Nerano on the Amalfi Coast; making pasta (badly) on a farm outside Tropea in Calabria; seeing the best night sky ever from the terrace of Hotel Raya in Panarea.  And then there’s Ponza …

Meal: Pasta with shellfish or courgettes or both followed by a scoop of gelato.

Drink: A glass of a white wine called “W … Dreams … … …” (it’s really spelled just like that!) from the Jermann vineyard

Describe your typical working day if there is such a thing?

Being the founder of Lois Avery is my dream job! My working day is so different from my past life – I have to wear a lot of different hats! As soon as I wake up I check my email for orders that have come in overnight and post our first Instagram photo of the day. It is so important that our customers have a new Lois Avery image to see during their morning commute. Then it’s time for my other job as a mum. I do the school run each day. In good weather we walk or scoot (them not me) the 20 minute journey to school.

I am always at my desk by 9am. Dealing with orders is key of course, but there is lots more to be done. Tackling my inbox each day is one of my biggest challenges. My diary is filled with appointments and meetings.  One day I might be in a studio in North London styling a product shoot for our cashmere shawls and the next meeting with suppliers in their mills in Italy to discuss developing new products. I spend a lot of time building the connections between Lois Avery and the wider world.  At the moment I am building relationships with lots of fashion bloggers who inspire me, and who I feel encompass the values of Lois Avery. You can see who they are on our Instagram feed!

I collect the children from school most days. I am lucky to be part of a great network of supportive mums – I always have someone to ask for help if I get stuck in a meeting or the trains fail me!

Once the kids are in bed I am mindful that I need time with my husband. I would like to say that I switch off at 5pm, but the reality of a small business owner is that there is always work to be done … I am still refining that precious work life balance.

What are you most proud of so far on your Lois Avery cashmere journey?

The emails I receive from customers saying how much they love their cashmere mean more to me than anything else.

What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced so far?

Juggling a working life and motherhood is always challenging and I strive to do it better.

On our busiest day to date the website crashed due to an issue with the platform, it was awful and completely out of my hands. I still feel that I let people down that day.

lois avery animal print shawl with white lace dress

leopard print scarf with glitter clutch and gold sandals

Images by Marlene Lee

What would be your one piece of advice to anyone thinking of making the change and starting their own business?

If you really believe in your idea then get started! Be hungry to learn: buy a book, Google all aspects of your idea, and ask someone in that field to have coffee with you …

Maintaining inspiration is so important and can be hard at times, especially if you don’t have a business partner.  Seek out likeminded people who will help you to maintain that inspiration. Instagram is a great place to start as it’s so easy to connect with people who have similar interests.

Start building your social media world – all businesses need an online presence even if they are a bricks and mortar project.

Above all, be authentic and true to yourself and your values.

Where do you look for inspiration, ideas and motivation?

Everywhere! People watching. Travel. Coffee table books. Old photos from my childhood. Blogs. Friends. Instagram. Films. Pinterest. And then there are my style heroes, such as Jenna Lyons.

What are your hopes and dreams for Lois Avery this year?

I hope to grow the brand, and that more and more people will find us and love our cashmere.

We have had a lot of interest from Australia, and as an Australian, this makes me very proud and I really want to explore opportunities there further.

Sum up Lois Avery cashmere in three words!

Romantic. Dreamy. Timeless.

And there you have it – proof, if ever proof were needed, that sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith and start chasing that dream – especially when it involves Italian cashmere!

The Lois Avery Cashmere Giveaway!

If you’d like to enter this Lois Avery cashmere giveaway and win an Animal Print Bengal Kitten shawl as featured here, it couldn’t be easier. All you have to do is follow Lois Avery on Instagram and leave a comment on this blog post before midnight GMT on Thursday 2 February 2017. As simple as that!

The winner will be chosen using Random Result and the result announced here, on Lois Avery’s Instagram and mine on Friday 3rd February so keep an eye out!

Good luck and may the best cashmere lover win!

T&C’s: The competition is open to both UK and International entrants. Please note that there is no cash alternative to the prize.

75 comments on “online style chat with Jennie Hogg, founder of lois avery & a cashmere giveaway!”

  1. Such a lovely post and it is great to hear more about Jennie’s inspiring story – i’ve been following her journey on Instagram and have been hooked on the beautiful imagery of both her cashmere and of Italy. The scarves look so gorgeous and Bengal Kitten is a style classic 🙂 Fingers crossed!
    Claire x

  2. Morning you! It’s really interesting to read this; lots of parallels I see to myself and others who’ve branched out, especially in filling the vacuum once leaving a demanding job. So many women want to work and run a brand – their own brand, on their terms – and so few manage it convincingly so this is heartening to read!

  3. Jennie’s story is indeed inspirational. I love that because of her job she had to jump right in and she did!
    Stunning scarves I’ve just had a little look

  4. Adore the Lois Avery scarves, the perfect thing for the changeable Melbourne climate. Soft, stylish and sophisticated!

  5. What an inspiration to all. I’ve never seen these scarves before but would be so thrilled to win one to brighten up a dull day in N. Ireland.

  6. On this cold morning it was lovely to read Jennies blog,to work with beautiful things must be a dream.

    Julie durkin

  7. These scarfs look absolutely beautiful! I’m an ex lawyer too and love seeing the different paths taken when you Take the plunge! Wishing this lady every luck in her venture, I’ve had a look at her website and want every one!


  8. What a warm, inspiring story and a very talented lady. I love reading stories about women who have chased their dreams – the world us out there for us girls! (Great scarf too…saw you wearing it on Instagram Amanda!)

  9. Gorgeous scarf and what an inspiring story for someone like me trying to figure out where next in my career. Love the different patterns on the scarf.

  10. I never win anything, but that’s not the point of this comment! I just wanted to say how inspirational ladies like you and Jennie are: strong women following their dreams, and doing it with dignity and style. Women rock! 🙂

  11. Gorgeous cashmere and so inspiring to read about a woman following her dreams in business and puruing her life long ambition. x

  12. Love cashmere! New to Lois Avery but chef king it out right away! Love a success story like this ..very inspirational
    Thanks and For the shawl !!!

  13. Such an inspirational article. Good Luck Jennie! The scarf is just beautiful; my two favourite prints and I love the images used in this interview – makes me want to book a holiday.

  14. Jenny has been an incredible inspiration for my own business venture and she has personally been so supportive of me on Instagram too. Never failing to wing me DMs to encourage me, and also support me at a time of loss of Christmas. I am also a total Italophile, and relate to her passion for place, people and products. I think her amazing success, just focusing on a single, simple but oh so beautiful and amazing artisan created product has been well earned and totally inspired. I already follow Jenny and Lois Avery on Insta, and unfailingly beam in every day to her dreamy feeds. This interview shows how we can all achieve our dreams, and be brave, ditching the day job to do something we truly love! Passion with purpose! Thanks Online Stylist for this insight into her world.

  15. I love Lois Avery’s instagram feed it’s such a cheering thing to come across on a grey January morning. Lots of luck with the business Jennie – the scarves are beautiful!

  16. Inspiring. I love scarves – my scarf choice for the day expresses my creativity and my mood. Scarves are comforting and complete my look. Can’t imagine not having one with me every day. I admire women who have the courage to take the step into their passion.

  17. I so wish I had the guts to do something like this….truly inspirational! Strong woman, with great courage and vision…maybe 2017 will be my year???

  18. Wow, great question & answer session, so great to hear that a small idea can turn into something wonderful. I’m new to cashmere (can afford it now!) and these scarves look fab. Look forward to being one of your follewers now @loisavery.

  19. What a fabulous post. Its always great to hear of new brands and one with such a good back story. I am looking forward to seeing more of your items now @loisavery and am off to follow!

  20. This is just the kind of inspirational post I needed at this point in the week! It is wonderful to see so many talented people take their ideas and make them happen as we move into a more flexible and entrepreneurial working environment. I hope that when I am ready to start my very own business I will have the confidence and go-getting attitude as Jenny.

    As for the gorgeous scarf – Bengal Kitten is definitely a neutral so will go with everything!

  21. As another tired lawyer with aspirations beyond the world of polyester suits and endless emails, Jennie is a true inspiration. The products are timeless, elegant and as carefully crafted as the Italian backdrop of the Lois Avery brand. This piece was a pleasure to read and shows that changing your life and choosing what you love is not only achievable but, can prove to be the best thing you ever did. Bravo.

  22. Thanks for interviewing Jennie. I am also a lawyer in London and do frequently have inner turmoil about the decision to work in the demanding, face paced and often stressful corporate world. I am also planning on starting a family too and so find myself wondering how I could step of the corporate train and become my own boss in a job that truly inspires me. Jennie has shown that her passion and bravery has paid off… food for thought! Oh and also her cashmere scarves are just dreamy!

  23. What a lovely blog post. I came across Lois Avery via the Head Ovary Heels podcast and think shes does such a wonderful job with her instagram feed. I love her #loisaverytravel A Lois Avery scarf is definately on the bucket list!

  24. Brilliant blog as usual Amanda. I follow you and Lois Avery on instagram and it was lovely to read this insight into how it all began.
    Loving the picture with you wearing the Bengal Kitten and it’s made me want it all the more.Fingers crossed.

  25. I adore the Amalfi Coast and I adore cashmere… what a dreamy combination! I love following Lois Avery for the beautiful landscapes and scarf styling ideas.

  26. Wow! What a journey Jenny has been on and what a great example of being true to yourself and following your dream – sorry for the cliches but I’m sure you know what I’m trying to say! X

  27. I have never worn cashmere before but if it lives up to its name as the Bengal kitten shawl, I want one! Congratulations on your success so far Jennie, long may it continue.

  28. After searching for warm yet super stylish scarves, your friend at Hero (a fab shop full of beautiful things to pine after) nudged me your way. An ex-City, mother of 3, I’m at once inspired and jelly bags you’ve gone and done it… I’m still hoping my day will come! I also love your long pink tutu skirt! Well done and good luck.

  29. I don’t usually summon the courage to comment but the combination of two inspirational women and a cashmere shawl giveaway persuaded me otherwise!

  30. I love my daily Lois Avery Instagram feed it really brightens up my day. They combine two of my favourite things a love of Italy, which we are now passing on to our children and a love for beautiful fashion. Her journey is both inspiring and empowering for women. It makes you realise anything is possible if you are passionate about it.

  31. What a beautiful read by a beautiful lady.
    For sure these cashmere shawls are amazing.
    I’m a scarf addict and these will definitely feature on
    My Christmas list this year to my hubby.
    Simply beautiful ❤

  32. What a wonderful story about following your heart to your dreams. So amazing to see how hard work and can be ao rewarding if you are fulfilling your passions.

  33. Lovely interview and beautiful things! As a mum of two girls under five and a small business owner, I would like to have a scarf that nobody could nick and I could wrap round me and cocoon myself from the day to day! Sigh 🙂

  34. I love the way Jennie has managed to work towards her dream and turn it into reality. The more I read about how friends/bloggers, can inspire creativity the more I am motivated to try something myself. Thank you

  35. I’d love a Lois Avery scarf to allow me my own fleeting Carrie Bradshaw moment like the first stunning photograph of Jennie. The story is very inspiring, life in the corporate world can be stifling and often not creative at all. I wish the Lois Avery brand the very best of luck & much success xx

  36. I’ve never been a big fan of scarves except for the big wooly kind that keep you warm in winter. My friend however is a massive scarf lover and I seem to find myself browsing them for possible gift options for her. I am now a convert! The brilliance of colour and style a scarf can add to an outfit and completely lift it is amazing. Keep doing what you’re doing.. love your work!

  37. I recently ordered the pleat scarf in black and its gorgeous! I would highly recommend for any occasion, perfect for winter and cold summer evenings x

  38. What a great story. I love how a light bulb moment has blossomed into something so wonderful. And what a beautiful product too. Well done Jennie.

  39. What an inspiration you both are! and it just goes to show that when you have a hunch that should should be doing something else you really must follow your instinct! Really enjoyed the photography too!

  40. A scarf is my very favourite accessory! They can add infinite variation to a simple outfit, give a classic one a twist, and keep you warm or shade you from the sun depending. This one from Lois Avery is a beauty! Good luck with the business Jennie.

  41. Such a lovely post Amanda. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know more about Jennie after following the brand on Instagram.
    Wishing Jennie every success for the future & I’m going to keep my fingers & toes crossed for the competition. Who wouldn’t want to win such a beautiful scarf!
    Jane xx

  42. Such a lovely post with beautiful photography. Really inspiring to read of someone following their dreams and making them happen. Love cashmere, love Italy and would love this scarf!

  43. great post,ive been following for a while now and just received my beautiful cashmere scarf in Sea, now of course i would love one in every colour .. fingers crossed

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