Sussex girl Jo Norton, 26 is the proud owner of a local fashion label Mille Saisons.
Jo describes herself as having the appearance of a 16 year old, with braces. “I keep being ID’ed for silly things.” So I think we can agree, this lovely lady has a good sense of humour.
She is now living in Hurstpierpoint in West Sussex having moved from the East.
Why did you move?
“I don’t usually bring the reason for moving up on first dates or anything…! But my dad died a few years ago and it seemed the right time to sell the family house this year and move to somewhere more manageable.
“I still live with my mum because I get much better food and she still needs someone to change the light bulbs and put up the curtain rails!”
How would you describe Mille Saisons?
“I started with romantic sports luxe clothing but am expanding into silk accessories more at the moment as well. Silk is such a wonderful fabric to use and wear so I’m creating more products around it.”
How did Mille Saisons come to be the business it is today?
“I was kind of good and did do a business plan but as I learn more and change things I keep having to update it! I’m just in the middle of redoing my business plan actually.
“I hadn’t planned on having my own business really but I was in a bit of a limbo after my dad died and sleeping badly (I later found out I had a sleep disorder) which made finding a 9-5 job unlikely.
“My mum suggested I just give it a proper go by myself and then I could work around nap time!”
What were your influences and who were your inspirations?
“I think my parents have inspired me quite a lot as they always had their own business.
“My dad definitely believed in working for yourself.
“I’ve also met lots of other small business owners in the last year or so especially on the Brighton Etsy Team. Claire of Catacake and Karli from Designosaur are lovely hardworking people with inspiring businesses.”
Where would you like to see yourself taking your business?
“Just to continue doing what I love and to keep growing is enough for me at the moment I think!”
What makes you passionate about Mille Saisons?
“That it is mine. I get to make the decisions that decide what direction the business will take and I get to do a wide variety of different tasks.
“One day it can be accounting, another sourcing fabrics and another sewing…”
Where do you sell?
“Getting out and talking to customers is invaluable and keeps giving me new ideas of products to try.
“I’m looking at taking on wholesale at some point this year as well which is exciting.”
Have you got any other hobbies?
“I love reading but am bad at setting aside time for it. It’s more tempting to relax with some mind numbing television or to try and get a bitmore work done instead!
“I also go to adult ballet classes. I’ve been going for a couple of years (not that you can tell from my limited dance abilities!) and we’ve got a lovely little group now and a great teacher who doesn’t let us off the hook just because we are adults.
“She is always changing routines to get us learning and improve different techniques. Seeing ballet, live or in the cinema, is something else I try to do a few times a year.
“Baking can be a good relaxer but only if I have the time and someone or an event to bake for, otherwise it’s just me with a tin of cakes to eat!”
If you could be an animal, which would you be?
“Ohhh, I love so many different animals.
“The internet has opened us up to a whole load of adorable animals but cats obviously get pretty cushy lives if they have nice owners so probably a cat.
“Although otters and sloths are pretty close.”
What effect would you like your work to have on the world?
“I’m never going to have an incredible effect on the world in the same way as a doctor or a research scientist, but if people buy my products and it makes them happy and through me, they find something they enjoy wearing then I’d be pretty happy with that.
“It’s small but if I even got to the point that I could have another member of staff and was able to provide an enjoyable job and workplace to someone then I’d consider that an achievement.”
What makes you happy?
“When my cat comes to see me without any persuasion?!”
What would you say, is one of your greatest achievements?
“Just being where I am with my business at the moment.
“It sounds kind of over dramatic, but a few years ago I could barely imagine a life for myself where I was getting up every day, brushing my teeth and getting dressed due to grief/depression and the sleep disorder.
“Sometimes I berate myself for not getting to where I want to be yet but then I look back at where I was and see what I have managed to achieve and it’s a decent amount I think.”
What are your favourite things about Brighton?
“How eclectic it is I think.
“Pretty much anything goes and growing up near that is kind of great, especially when experimenting with fashion as a teenager.
“Also, the amount of cake you can try within a relatively short distance.”
What would be your message to humanity?
“Let’s be kinder to each other?”