Joanne, Founder of Hop Hosiery

Joanne, Founder of Hop Hosiery


Artist House. I joined Rentadesk in August 2015. I had just started to get serious about my business idea Hop Hosiery – a tights subscription service – but I was procrastinating at home. Working from coffee shops didn’t work for me either, so I went online and found Rentadesk. I booked a viewing for the next day and signed up immediately. 


I subscribe to the ‘Hot desk quarter time’ package, which means I’m here up to 50 hours per month. By day I’m a senior management consultant for one of the ‘big four’ professional services firms, so I mainly come to Rentadesk during the evenings and weekends. But I also do the occasional weekday, as I’m dedicating all my annual leave to getting my business up and running this year. It’s great that Rentadesk is so flexible so I can come and go round the clock – very few co-working spaces are so accommodating. 


Definitely. When I joined Rentadesk Hop Hosiery was just a pipe dream which I’d been trying to bring to life for three months but I hadn’t made much progress. Within six weeks of joining Rentadesk, I’d signed a contract to have my website designed, developed my logo and brand essentials, learned what a press release was (seriously, I had no clue) and engaged with a large range of suppliers from Italy, Poland, UK and Turkey, in a bid to find the perfect tights. After a lot of talking and thinking, finally I was actually doing it! That was very exciting.


Usually around 10am. I often set my alarm for 6.30am hoping I’ll go to spin class, do 100 sit-ups, blend my Nutribullet like Bleddyn (the resident smoothie junkie who runs Artist House) and be at my desk by 8.30am. But instead, I snooze for an hour, drag myself into the shower and cycle to the office for 10am. I make a cafetiere of coffee (tea, coffee and biscuits are all included in the price at Rentadesk) and I’m ready to crack on with the day ahead. I’m most productive between 11am and 3pm, although sometimes I find I get a late-night burst of concentration and energy – in which case I’ll stay until 11pm. 


It varies, as I don’t have a regular routine. If it’s Monday to Thursday and I’ve done a day at the office, I’ll typically leave between 6 and 7pm. If I’m in the office on a weekend it’s likely I’m there for the long haul and will leave the office in the late evening but try to get home for 11pm. On Fridays I usually head to the Plough pub downstairs at around 6pm – a crowd of Rentadeskers usually goes to celebrate the end of the week. I did that on my first ever day at Rentadesk and everyone was so friendly that I remember feeling like I’d been working here forever. 


I live in Camden and typically cycle to work in 15 minutes (I love my old Dutch style bike – and no, I don’t do Lycra!). If it’s raining the bus is really quick too, taking me about 30 minutes door-to-door. I take the number 29 to the British Museum. From there it’s a two-minute walk to Artist House. 


I try to bring my own healthy food which is usually last night’s leftovers (handily there’s a microwave in the kitchens at Rentadesk) but when that fails I’ll admit defeat and buy a sandwich from Pret a Manger on New Oxford Street (their chicken and bacon is a firm favourite). It’s fun to eat with other Rentadeskers at the communal table. I’m always fascinated by other people’s lunches as they’re way more exotic than mine! I ask where they got it from so I can be more adventurous next time. My boyfriend works in Holborn, so sometimes we meet in Russell Square Gardens (five minutes’ walk away) and eat in the sunshine together, if the weather allows and we can find a free bench. It’s a popular spot!


Tea and Tattle opposite the British Museum – it’s perfect for a cuppa and sandwich, and even better if you go with friends for the delicious afternoon tea. (Try the scones with a huge selection of exotic jams). There’s also a little café called Ruskins on Museum Street, which does a killer bacon and egg breakfast baguette. If you’re feeling tired or had one too many last night, that will sort you out.


Covent Garden is about a 5-10 minute walk – and it’s pretty bad for my bank card having Reiss, Banana Republic and MAC on the doorstep! I’m also keen to explore the unique shops right by the office such as the London Review Bookshop on Bury Place and James Smith & Sons on New Oxford Street. They sell the biggest range of old-fashioned umbrellas I’ve ever seen. 


Truckles wine bar – it’s hidden in a pretty little courtyard called Pied Bull Yard, two streets from Artist House. It has the luxury of spacious outdoor seating – a treat compared with most places in central London, where you’re all crushed into a few metres of pavement beside a busy street. Truckles has been great for summer drinks so I’m hoping they have outdoor heaters so we can go there in the winter too.


Working in consultancy, I live in suit dresses and skirts which need a constant supply of tights. I had the idea for Hop Hosiery one Sunday evening after a particularly busy few days. I’d arrived home from Belgium on the Thursday night, catching a train the next morning to see family for the weekend in Devon. On Sunday night I was on the train back to London when I realised I had no tights at home – and I was due to take the 6.50am Eurostar back to Belgium the following morning. In Belgium I’m based on client site in the middle of nowhere, so I was stuck wearing the same two pairs of trousers for the week. Then I thought, ‘Wait – I have my coffee delivered on a regular basis through subscription. Why can’t I do that with tights?’ I went straight online and discovered no such service exists… et voila! The idea of Hop Hosiery was born. 


I am busy building the Hop Hosiery website which I hope will launch in two or three months’ time. I am close to signing a contract with an amazing tights manufacturer based in Castiglione delle Stiviere (near Milan, in Italy) who I’m really excited about working with. I thought I knew great tights until I sampled their products. I can’t wait to bring them to the UK market. I anticipate Hop Hosiery’s main customer will be the professional women who regularly wears tights and simply doesn’t want to spend her time having to shop for something she uses so regularly. 


Yes. Quite unexpectedly, I’ve suddenly found I have contacts for everything I could need, including advice and professional services from photographers, copywriters and graphic designers. In fact, I met my web designer Kai at Rentadesk, who is turning my business dream to reality. I love that everyone at Rentadesk is doing something unique. Ask, “So, what do you do?” and everyone gives a different answer. There are screenwriters, 3D animators, web designers, journalists, start-up company directors… You never know what someone is going to say but it’s usually something interesting!


The community and camaraderie. Before, I was working completely alone (albeit with the support of my boyfriend, who now knows exactly what ‘denier’ means and the difference between sheer and opaques – I’m quite proud of him, actually!). But now I have a whole new group of people to discuss my work stuff with, most of whom I’ve met while making coffee in the kitchen, or eating lunch at the big communal table. One Rentadesker brought in a brilliant article on the success of subscription businesses. It was so thoughtful of him, and the article was great – it made me realise my business could really be something. I carry it with me everywhere and pull it out when I need some motivation or when I need reminding just how kind people can be. I joined Rentadesk hoping to find a quality work space but I’ve gained so much more.

'Rentadesk People' is a series of interviews self-written by the wonderfully talented and eclectic mix of people who grace us at Rentadesk. If you'd like to become part of the community visit us and say hello!

Bleddyn Williams