Hope Fashion is asking fans to donate £100 or more to prevent it from collapsing

Nayna McIntosh believed she saw a gap in the market when she founded online retailer Hope Fashion in 2015: producing elegant, relaxed clothing for women in their 50s and older.

After working for decades at some of the UK’s largest clothing retailers, McIntosh – who is now 60 – found that older women were being ignored by mainstream brands despite often having more disposable income.

“I wanted to unapologetically target a 50-plus woman who is aware of the changes her body is going through, and design products accordingly,” says McIntosh. The products available on the website include pleated skirts and wrap tops in jewel tones.

Despite growing its customer base by more than 160% year-on-year through 2022, and hoping to break even by 2024, the retailer has struggled to secure critical investments.

Two investors, who previously backed the company, unexpectedly pulled out of the latest fundraising effort earlier in January.

Now Hope Fashion has taken the unusual step of calling on its 20,000 customers to open their wallets for a reason other than adding to their wardrobes: McIntosh is asking them to donate £100 or more to save the business from an imminent collapse.

McIntosh – who was part of the team that launched the George at Asda fashion label with George Davies in the 1990s, and helped launch the Per Una range at Marks & Spencer – maintains regular contact with her clients through inquiries and answering sessions or styling sessions on social media. media.

She says this has resulted in an “incredibly loyal customer base”, and this seems to be backed up by the company’s average score of 4.8 stars on the consumer review website Trustpilot, with the vast majority of reviewers (89%) liking the brand awards the top five. star rating.

In an email sent to customers Monday, McIntosh appeals to them to become “Hope Saviors” and keep the brand operating.

“Where do you go when you’re desperate and need help?” McIntosh asks in the email, adding, “What if the people who love Hope were willing to save it.”

McIntosh is asking her customers and followers of the brand to donate £100, £250 or more to raise £250,000.

The money will be used to buy new products – designed by Hope in Berkshire and produced in Italy – for the brand’s spring/summer and autumn/winter collections, as well as more marketing.

In return, those who donate will be entered into a prize draw with a chance to win a £1,000 voucher and a styling session with McIntosh.

She believes the fundraising will keep the company and its staff going until early 2024, when she hopes the economic outlook will have improved and “the markets will be more receptive.”

If the company fails to meet its goal by midnight on February 7, customers will be told “it’s all over” and their donations will be refunded.

McIntosh holds a series of virtual calls with customers to discuss donations to the company, which she describes as “a big question.”

Veteran retailer Stuart Rose, former CEO of Marks & Spencer, was one of McIntosh’s early investors and she describes him as an abiding “supporter” of the company.

In the past, however, it has struggled to attract funding from predominantly male investors.

“This is a brand for women, by women, supported by women. I think an awful lot of male investors just don’t get it,” says McIntosh.

“As a woman, I have a 2% chance of being successful in fundraising. As a person of color, that goes to 0.2%.”

Crowdfunding has previously faced criticism after some corporate fundraisers left investors disappointed — and even out of pocket.

However, McIntosh insists she only “talks to the converted,” her clients, and is not offering any stock in the company during the crowdfunding.

“These are people who are very involved with us,” she says. “I’m not trying to sell a really good idea to someone who has absolutely no interest in over-50 women and clothing.”

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