Meet the founder of Zaggora, who made hotpants her business, and big business at that.

Dessi Bell made £12 million in the first twelve months of setting up her online activewear brand, Zaggora. The ex-investment banker has since been named one of Management Today’s 35 under 35 and been shortlisted for numerous awards, such as Entrepreneur of the Future at the Shell Women of the Future Awards. Zaggora was awarded E-Commerce Strategy of the year at the National Business Awards.

Whilst studying economics at Harvard Business School, Dessi wanted to find a way to make her workout more efficient, and following research stumbled upon a material that heats up upon movement. Realising this could be the perfect way to make working out smarter, she quickly scaled operations and has delivered over one million products to women across the world. The brand’s next move is into health foods, launching breakfast smoothies, superfood shots, energy boosters and morning and evening cleansing teas.

My favourite website… Amazon - It is my first port of call for most things. We have most functions in our home connected to Amazon Alexa, and when we recently gave ours to a friend we really missed her. Not only can Alexa control your home, but also rap which makes it the baddest AI out there.

My favourite app… Headspace - I initially started using Headspace a few years ago, and trained with Andy for a while. It is remarkable how twenty minutes a day can really change your perspective in a most profound way.

My blog of choice… AVC - Fred Wilson’s (founder of Union Square Ventures) musings on business and life. Beyond the general articles, the MBA Mondays have a lot of super useful resources from one of the world’s great startup investors.

My internet hero… Sheryl Sandberg - I admire her ability to turn her personal tragedy into something useful for the greater good, with the writing of her latest book ‘Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy’. I remember when her book ‘Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead’ came out. It was so refreshing to the debate of women in the workplace as it offered unbiased empirical explanations to questions like why there are less women in higher management. I gave out a copy to everyone who worked with us.

My most recent buy online… A pair of divine dark green booties from Bobbies of Paris. Not only do they create beautiful and playful shoes, they also send you a little sweet with every box. What more can you ask for!

Book just downloaded/ read… I am usually reading multiple books at once, at least one on bringing up children. Currently reading ‘The secrets of happy children’ by Steve Biddulph, a lovely and gentle book on parenting with understanding and patience. My other read is ‘Scaling Up’ by Verne Harnish. It is so useful I am scribbling notes all over it. It’s a great practical guide on strategy and execution.

Favourite tweeter… JK Rowling. - She seems to always find the right words.

Favourite instagrammer… La Coqueta Kids - Celia has created a beautiful children’s clothing brand that hits the right mark on both style and value.

Social media allowed me to… Start our business and meet our first 500 customers! We found the first 500 women to try Zaggora by tweeting strangers on Twitter. It was surprisingly tough to get strangers to wear Hotpants! We are forever grateful to the first women who gave us a chance and many of whom have become friends. Word of mouth takes a lot of hard work and we really had to seek out people who had a problem we were looking to solve. It was a great lesson for us in the early days and social media continues to be one of our main channels to communicating with existing customers and reaching new ones.

Most worthwhile newsletter subscribed to… My son’s school bulletin.

Pet hate about life online… Entering a restaurant to see people being engrossed in their devices rather than enjoying each other’s company.

Stand out online memory… Seeing the Good Morning America feature on Zaggora.

iPhone or Android: iPhone, can’t live without it.

October 2017