Meet: Laura Bartlett, Founder of House of Coco

Hannah Brice Written by
Hannah Brice
When Dragons Den won’t invest in your business, it’s sooooo satisfying to be able to show them they’d made a mistake. That’s just what our latest entrepreneur has done.

Meet Laura Bartlett

Laura is the award-winning founding editor and publisher of House of Coco, sold all over the world as well as in store at Harrods and Selfridges. Having built this business in her twenties with zero investment from the ground up, Laura is a leading voice for young female entrepreneurs and a larger than life example of failure breeding strength. Here’s her story.

1. Why did you start House of Coco and what were you doing before?

From the age of 15, I knew that I would some day have my own company. When I turned 19 I started a job at Radio Aire in Leeds and it was here that I fell in love with the world of media. I made a decision at a launch party, that I would be at these kind of events due to my own achievements. It inspired me to launch my own magazine and, it has been a bumpy and interesting ride, but I have been publishing magazines for the past seven years now.

2. What were the biggest sources of inspiration and support when you were starting out?

Social media wasn’t such a big thing in my life back then and inspiration wasn’t as easily available. However, I have always been a huge fan of books and so I would always read for inspiration. ‘Think and Grow Rich’ by Napoleon Hill was one of the biggest influences on me. Even now I still read a new book every week.

My two biggest supporters were my parents, they’ve been there every step of the way and always supported me in everything I’ve done.

3. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned since starting the business?

Just because you can be trusted, doesn’t mean everyone else can. The hardest part of the journey has been finding people to join the team that will deliver what they say, be honest and trustworthy and have the best interests of the company at heart. You always hope that people will treat your company as if it’s their own – you hope they’ll have the same amount of passion and love for it but truthfully they won’t always.

4. What has been your proudest moment/biggest achievement so far?

I am proud every time I get to send one of my team on a trip around the world. Right now, I have one of #TeamCoco in Tokyo, another just returned from France and next week one will head to Mauritius. However, I sent my parents to Jamaica a couple of years ago and that filled me with so much joy! Getting to see them enjoy the fruits of my labour, whilst creating amazing memories, is something I will always be proud of.

5. What piece of advice would you give to anyone starting out?

Be prepared to fail. And fail again. But don’t give up, failure is part of the journey and the only way to reach success. You can’t make a comeback if you haven’t been anywhere.

When I was 25, I ventured onto Dragon’s Den seeking investment of £100K, having built up my first magazine ‘Urban Coco’ into a successful online lifestyle magazine, and now feeling ready to step up my business to the next level and expand into print, internationally. Peter Jones crushed me in front of millions of viewers telling me the magazine looked like “college project” and suggesting I was crazy to focus on print when the world was going online. But I didn’t give up. I came back stronger and more determined than ever and went on to prove them all wrong. House of Coco is now in demand from brands all over the globe and sold all over the world as well as in store at Harrods and Selfridges.

6. What piece of investment did you make in the business that was worth every penny?

Having started this company with £0, I am very frugal when it comes to making investments as I like to think that I am very savvy and can come up with ways to do things I want to do without having to make huge investments. I think people believe that you need thousands to start a company, but I started with nothing and, by being creative, have grown a 6-figure business with no investment.

7. Which element of marketing has made the biggest impact on your business?

Social media. It’s been our shop window to the magazine, showing people what we do behind the scenes and taking our readers on the journey with us whilst they wait for the release of our next print magazine.

8. What do the next 12 months look like for you?

Launching the print magazine in new cities, becoming the best version of myself mentally and physically and providing more opportunities to more people to live their best lives, to take risks to follow their dreams and be in control of living on their terms. I am so excited for the rest of 2019, I truly believe that this is going to be a life changing year for myself and the company and I cannot wait for the journey.

I am also super excited to have been appointed as director of Dracell, a Korean beauty brand that is now available in the UK. I can’t wait to take the brand to the next level and become the most talked about beauty brand in the country.

Do you have an interesting story to tell about how your business got started? Tell us about it.