The doyenne of building digital communities and supporting small business online shows us around her web.

Holly Tucker is best known as the brilliant co-founder of and brains behind notonthehighstreet.com, a revolutionary idea that took root around her kitchen table and went on to give a platform to thousands of small creative business. Indeed, her game-changing and democratic approach was so inspiring that it even gained her recognition in The Queen’s Birthday Honours when, in 2013, she was awarded an MBE.

And yet that extraordinary achievement is far from the only string to her bow, for Holly Tucker is not a woman to sit still for long. That indefatigable energy was evident from the outset of her career when, at the age of just seventeen, she became one of the youngest ever trainee account executives at French advertising and PR firm, Publicis. Precociously talented, she went on to work at Conde Nast’s Brides, and then later to run the Chiswick Christmas Fair under the auspices of an independent start-up she was involved with. Buoyed and excited by its success, she went it alone to launch ‘Your Local Fair’, a series of events around London which would, ultimately, give her the insights, tools and inspiration for notonthehighstreet.com.

Championing the interests of small creative businesses and enabling them to thrive remains at the heart of everything Holly does. To that end, she was appointed UK Ambassador to Creative Small Businesses in 2015 by the Prime Minister, in which capacity she represents the needs of independents to government, her steadfast aim always to give the small guys a chance against the big guys. But not content with that, in the same year she also launched Instadvice, a business advice blog offering, as its name suggests, instant advice to businesses.

Organic development is a recurring theme in Holly’s life, and it was the success of this endeavour that eventually led her to set up Holly & Co, a home for artisans to connect and share, as well as offering a first aid salon of sorts for business. Cheerleading for the small business community, her website and Instagram account exist to tirelessly support others to make a living and a life doing what they love best (and if you want to mine her knowledge further, we urge you to listen to her podcast, Conversations of Inspiration, in which she chats through the highs and lows with a stellar roster of fellow entrepreneurs). To learn about the work she’s done to support SMEs during lockdown, read more here.

A fast-thinking innovator, she believes in creativity within the entrepreneurial world. It comes as little surprise, then, that she has scooped a myriad of awards, from EY Entrepreneur of the Year to The Google Award for Women in Digital. A seasoned keynote speaker, a bestselling author (check out Shape Up Your Business and Build A Business From Your Kitchen Table), and founder of The Happy Bricks Foundation for disadvantaged children, she also happens to be a truly lovely person who is never afraid to use her own story to help others.

Here she tells us how social media has enabled her to build a whole community, and why businesses must, at all costs, avoid the temptation to bombard their customers.

My favourite website...

Matches. I adore their edits, I don’t buy a lot of clothes, but when I do, I buy well!

My favourite app...

Instagram. I know so many people will say this, but its where Holly & Co started, I connect with my community, I find incredible businesses, get inspiration - the list is endless.

My Internet hero...

Is it cheating to say Tim Berners-Lee?! I mean he literally created the Internet. Without him, I would never be where I am today.

My favourite podcast...

Ok I’m not allowed to say my own... so I guess I’d say Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations.

My favourite YouTuber...

Caroline Hirons. As a beauty addict at the best of times, I end up down a rabbit hole. There is nothing more I enjoy more than whiling away an hour, understanding acids, retinol and anything to help me not look as tired as I feel!

My most recent buy online...

I had a portrait of my two sisters by Marna Lunt created.

Last book you downloaded or read...

Surrounded by Idiots by Thomas Erikson and Humankind: A Hopeful History by Rutger Bregman.

Favourite Instagrammer...

Dave Buonaguidi who you can find at @realhackneydave - he is hilariously brilliant and clever!

Favourite tech gadget...

My iPad and Apple pencil. I love writing by hand, but my pencil means it can all be digital.

The most useful gadget/item on your desk...

My USB microphone. I use it for all my podcast records, it has been a revelation while recording remotely.

Most useful digital resource during lockdown...

Trello and Monday.com have been the most useful apps as our Holly & Co team have moved to remote working – they have worked so well. In fact, we have worked so well remotely and achieved so much that I have brought in what I’ve called ‘The Enrichment Era’ at Holly & Co and, alongside other changes, we will forever now be a company that works remotely.

Most inspirational digital resource during lockdown...

If I am honest, I did find my world within the small business industry pretty bleak, hence starting my own podcast, Conversations of Inspirations. I tune out that I am the presenter and really enjoy the founders that I am speaking to and their soulful stories.

But outside of that, I have to say that TV is pretty good and can get lost in The Repair Shop, Sewing Bee and Grayson’s Art Club.

First thing/app you look at on your mobile when you wake up/in the morning...

Instagram. BBC News. My emails. In that order!

Last thing you binge-watched...

Succession. If you have not watched this you must. It is funny, cleverly written, the characters are brilliant and it’s the perfect way to switch off after a long day.

Favourite brands have you discovered online...

Goodwin and Goodwin, Rebecca Strickson... the list could go on!

Social media allowed me to meet...

My entire community! It has allowed me to connect with thousands of incredible founders.

My screensaver is...

My son Harry (15) and partner, Frank.

My pet online hate is...

I hate it when people try and confuse you and sign you up to all their emails – and even more so when you can’t unsubscribe! So many times, you feel you are subscribed not just to their main email but every other single email they send. There is nothing worse for a brand than for a consumer to feel bombarded.

Do you have any online rules or resolutions?

I love what I do, and as a founder you are never ‘off’, but I do step away from my phone and computer on a Sunday evening and settle in to watch a good film with my son, Harry.

The Internet. On balance, a force for good or ill?

For good – but only when balanced out with real, human emotion and physical connection.

By Nancy Alsop
July 2020

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