By guest blogger Kelly Hoppen

To celebrate Global Entrepreneurship Week, we invited Kelly Hoppen – award-winning interior designer and one of GREAT’s longest-serving Ambassadors – to share her experiences with the campaign so far, as well as her thoughts on the UK’s phenomenal entrepreneurial spirit.

Award-winning interior designer and GREAT Ambassador Kelly Hoppen

A campaign to showcase UK talent

Back in 2012, when I first became an ambassador for the GREAT Britain and Northern Ireland campaign, I was excited to take on the role. GREAT was a new, entirely non-political

campaign, promoting tourism and international education, as well as supporting, advising, and leading British business. The campaign would export our expertise and creativity as well as our products, and remind the entire world how great Britain is. This same focus remains as much at the heart of the campaign in 2020 as it was back then.

Since I’ve been involved, I’ve travelled to Shanghai to celebrate the Festival of Creativity, toured India, and spoken at numerous events. I’ve worked with UK Trade & Investment – now the Department for International Trade – to mentor small- and medium-sized business owners hoping to export their products and services. My own business, which includes my successful interior design studio, the furniture and product design business, among other ventures, is based in the UK. At its heart, it is very much about expounding how our many talents within the creative industry are of benefit to everyone, which of course aligns with the message set out by GREAT. The synergy is there.

Kelly Hoppen at the Festival of Creativity in Shanghai in 2015

Business supporting business

For me, being an active participant in this campaign has been the perfect opportunity to talk about how extraordinary and plentiful our talents in this nation are. As part of my business, we’re directly and indirectly supporting hundreds of other businesses, commissioning and ordering work from a vast number of creative talents within the country. We’re also often exporting millions of pounds worth of goods and services, be it entire houses, furniture and design products, or textiles, flooring, lighting and so on. It reminds me how crucial it is to support British manufacturing, and how utterly incredible our pool of creative talent is right here on these shores.

Listen, learn, share

This is not a one-way street. Something the GREAT campaign has done for me – and I think I can speak for the other Ambassadors too – has been the incredible opportunity for me to listen and learn. GREAT is about bringing together a wonderful mix of expertise, experience, and talent in a wide variety of business sectors. When life was a little different, we’d be around a table – real or virtual – discussing, listening, thinking out loud, sharing ideas, and communicating.

After more than 40 years in business, I’m always open to more learning and appreciating the thoughts and ideas generated by others; our many heads together that lead us all to new adventures and exciting possibilities we might not have otherwise considered. That’s something that this campaign brings to the wider business community too: drawing on a wealth of knowledge, connections and unexpected ideas, as well as much-needed moral support for those starting out or those who might’ve stumbled along the way. The aim is to enable people to pick themselves up, move onwards and become the success they deserve to be – to be proud that our British talent and business acumen is out there and thriving.

Right now, it is important for each GREAT Ambassador to act as a beacon of hope, to encourage people to be tenacious, and to believe in their abilities. This is not just for those who are already successful; it’s also for those on the long, hard journey to success, but who are perhaps fearful of the path that leads them there. The more of us able to be present and put out our messages of support and inspiration is so important – to me, that is what the GREAT campaign is about.

Courage in the face of adversity

This year of all years is a time to look for the light in the midst of the darkness, which is something I try to do every single day. In amongst the grave hardship that so many people have suffered, I’ve been stopped in my tracks many times by the sheer will and entrepreneurial spirit of those determined and able to rise in these times.

So many brilliant small businesses have sprung up, diversified and scaled up during the pandemic. Take Lick paint, for example, launched while the UK was in lockdown and offering international shipping, helping to make decorating our homes easier than ever. Flowerbx, too, have been keeping spirits high with their beautiful fresh flowers, as have ethical health and wellness company Kloris with their great range of CBD oils and bath products.

Results Wellness Lifestyle was also among the many fantastic platforms helping people to stay mentally and physically fit and healthy while we’ve all been spending more time at home. And Grape and Fig’s beautiful cheese and fruit platters are also helping to make mealtimes at home – or even on Zoom events! – extra special.

It is examples of perseverance in the face of adversity like this that make me endlessly proud of our creative community – a signal of hope and positivity. It’s the best possible reminder that the true essence of this country is to persevere and overcome, which I know we will.

All views expressed in this blog are the views of the guest blogger and do not represent the views of the GREAT campaign.