It’s not unusual to see Jessica Huie arrive at a press event, baby in tow, seamlessly handling business while looking fabulous. A woman with a keen sense of purpose, dedication and immense focus, Huie is not only a force to be reckoned in the UK media and public relations scene, but she has also risen to become one of the city’s most respected female entrepreneurs.
After years serving as an entertainment correspondent for Pride magazine, Choice FM radio station and BBC London, Huie went on to work for six years under publicist mogul Max Clifford. Now she runs her own consultancy firm, JH Public Relations, where she has advised everyone from Kelly Rowland to Mica Paris. In 2007, she launched Colorblind Cards, a multicultural greeting card company that features multiple ethnicities, something that did not exist in London high street shops. In a short amount of time, Colorblind Cards was picked up by Moon Pig, which runs 95% of the online card market, to become their first and only ethnic publisher. The colorful greetings can now be found in independent shops across the UK and select Clinton Card stores. So how does Huie balance it all? I, for one, am incredibly impressed by her ability to run two businesses and fully function as a mother of two and soon to be wife. So, in true Parlour Maven fashion, I introduce you to Jessica Huie.
Parlour: As a publicist, entrepreneur and mom, what do you rely on to maintain your sanity and balance?
Jessica: Anything that takes me out of my head! It’s an ongoing mission to commit to exercise and meditation. I did a jazz class with my daughter recently — I danced for many years and wanted to be a ballerina until the age of 16 — and it was so invigorating! I didn’t think about business or anything other than the choreography and music, that’s healthy.
After dedicating most of your career to public relations, what inspired you to start Colorblind Cards?
It was purely by chance. I spotted a gap in the market and a complete absence of multicultural cards and products in the high-street. I was struck by the absence of black superheroes and princesses, so inspired by my own little princess, Monet who was 7 at the time, I created my own.
The word ‘colorblind’ suggests that your company ignores race, while the basis of your company was to provide more faces of color on greeting cards. How does that name play into the brand’s ethos?
There’s some irony to the name, but the ethos of the company is firmly grounded in inclusivity. We are creating an ethnically all-encompassing card, gift hub and global market leader. Our cards are not about race, our strap line is “the only thing that should be separated by color is laundry.”
Where do you see the business growing in the next few years?
We launched our personalization service last month, so you can now personalize the text on the front and inside all of our cards. We are also phasing in ten different gift items including baby grows, calendars and children’s party invitations. In June, Colorblind Cards is sponsoring Caribbean Fashion Week so we’ll be Jamaica bound and looking forward to creating a beautiful range shot on the island.
Are most of your consumers are people of color?
Sixty percent of our customers are people of color and I love that. One of my proudest moments since the inception of the business was seeing a blonde twenty something buy our “No better love than a sister’s love” card, featuring two black girls rocking natural afro hair. She became blind to color in that moment and that was success in the purest form.
You have also just launched the London chapter of Forward Ladies, what’s the organization about?
Forward Ladies is the North of England’s largest support organization for women in business at all levels with over 13,000 members. I have taken on the London branch and will be growing the London-based membership though a series of valuable workshops and events over the coming year. Our first event featured an incredible line up of speakers including Dr. David Hamilton author of Why Kindness Is Good For You. The second event on May 3 is “An Evening with Max Clifford,” he’ll speak on his fascinating career representing some of the world’s biggest entertainment names and why pr is essential for your business.
Has your publicity career helped with your entrepreneurial projects?
Yes, no question. I love both sides of my career, which is why I continue to balance the two. My network and contacts which I built through my media career are invaluable to the success of Colorblind Cards, and of course the ability to write a press release also helps.
What are three things that you can’t live without in your day-to-day affairs?
My daughter letting me know she’s gotten to school safely and my six month old’s first smile when he wakes in the morning and that first cup of tea.
Any advice that you would give to an aspiring entrepreneur?
Be confident and you will inspire confidence in you and your business. When you get to the position where you are able to help another inspiring entrepreneur, do it — we all need people on our way up. Have a hobby, balance is healthy.
For more information on the London chapter of Forward Ladies, check out ForwardLadies.com
Also, as a special treat, receive 10% off of any purchase on colorblindcards.com when you enter our special discount code: Parlour at check out. This offer is good through the month of May.