Zalihe's tiny swimsuit firm now basking in celeb glory
PUBLISHED: 07:00 16 September 2019
From small beginnings using eBay, a Gravesend entrepreneur has turned her hobby into a booming business attracting a host of celebrities to her swimsuit ranges.
Zalihe Mehmet Emin defied the odds and through sheer hard work has seen her Envy Label boom thanks to celeb endorsements and a turnover of £250,000.
She said: "I used to sell swimwear on eBay back in 2014 as extra income while I was working full time as a Ofsted inspector.
"After my first child Ella was born early at 34 weeks I decided I would give up working and spend time with her.
"I decided to make a website. I had no idea what I was doing or what I was getting into. I was quite amateur to it all.
"I was selling it for dead cheap. With a lot of celebrity endorsements the brand just took off. I was getting so many orders."
The 32-year-old Turkish Cypriot, who has a degree in education, said: "At the time I was living with my mum.
All the stock used to start taking over her house.
"I worked day and night. I did so much research. When the website went live I didn't think to order a lot of stock - I got a couple of each item to see how it would go."
The mum of Ella, two, and baby twins Atlas and Deniz says her biggest battle is with Chinese companies taking her designs and imagery.
Her breakthrough came from incredible tenacity, luring a former The Only Way is Essex star, plus keeping things affordable.
She said: "Last year, I literally begged Lauren Pope's agent asking for her to work with me.
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"I knew I really wanted to work with her. As a start-up company I didn't have thousands of pounds to pay her. So I emailed them constantly asking for a chance. They loved my items and decided to give us a chance. The business went from five orders to about 20-30 orders a day.
"It went crazy. We just kept selling out. We then went on to working with major celebs.
"We've worked with so many celebrities since then. We've done a collection with Malin Andersson for plus-sized ladies.
"Joanna Chimondes from Love Island is on board for this year's party season collection."
She added: "Envy Label has worked with this year's love island girls. Including Lucie Donlan, Amy Hart, Belle Hassan, Elma Pazar and Yewande Biala all wore our swimwear.
"We have also worked with former Islanders Georgia Steel, Dani Dyer and Olivia Buckland, as well as Towie's Amber Turner and Danielle Armstrong, and Isobel Mills from Ibiza Weekender."
The businesswoman went on: "I managed to turn the £100 investment into a 250k business. I also care for my children full time while running the company.
"I now design our own items rather than buying wholesale in order to stand out from other brands. Envy label will soon start selling clothing and we have exciting projects ahead to make the brand global."
Her advice to women wanting to launch their own brands is: "I stand for inclusion, embracing confidence, supporting each other, excellent customer service women who support other women is my main theory.
"I like to see others do well and I have always supported and mentored others especially start up businesses.
"I'm a big supporter of mental healthcare and want to work with women who are suffering by giving them something positive to look forward to in life.
"Don't give up. There have been so many lows for us and days that I cried and wanted to just pack it in. But, keep going. Don't let any negativity stop you. Keep getting better and better. Support each other. We also stand for all bodies and have a collection for plus size girls."
Now in her own £400,000 three-bed house, she uses the garage as a warehouse and has an apprentice.