Natalie and son, Jude
Natalie, why did you decide to found Project Jelly? And why jelly shoes?
Ha! It's a very long story of many silly ideas, but essentially it was a mission to fund-raise. I had a long standing love for JuJu Jellies and wanted to start a business with a BIG fundraising heart. After winning the MD of JuJu over with my plans and designing my first collection of Limited Editions, I started the business 14 months ago and signed up for Bubble London's summer show. Its then been a fast paced roller-coaster of good fortune and lots of hard work! We have just signed our first distribution deal for most of Asia and will see our Project Jellies in high end stores - including Lane Crawford, Galerie Layafette and Harvey Nichols Asia.
Were you surprised by the success Project Jelly enjoyed after debuting at Bubble London?
Honestly, YES - but the biggest surprise has to be the cult status we have achieved in Asia in just a few months. Taiwan sold over 1000 pairs of our Jellies in a few hours at launch. They love our 'giving story' and premium British jellies. The love affair with 'Made in England' is such an important USP, particularly in Asia right now.
What's been the highlight so far?
Ah, unashamedly it has to be the Invitation to No.10 Downing street last May. I presented Samantha Cameron with some of our Project jellies for her daughter, Florence, and had the privilege to share my charity initiative and business idea with her.
Could you tell us a bit about your next collection - and your new charity, Great Ormond Street Hospital?
Some of you in the industry already know that my toddler son, Jude was diagnosed with a disability, SPINA BIFIDA, in January this year. It was heartbreaking and I honestly considered giving Project Jelly up - however we got a fast op date from Great Ormond Street Hospital and the 'rock star' neurosurgeon performed a rare operation to help Jude's symptoms. Jude will be attending clinics and further operations every few months through his childhood. I owe GOSH everything and it feels only right to support them next year along with some local charities. My long term ambition is to set up a Foundation Trust and help children's charities in every country we launch in.
Jude and friend
If you had one piece of advice for someone looking to launch a charity initiative like Project Jelly, what would it be?
Do it ! Don't be afraid to voice your ideas to anyone that will listen. Secondly, seek out a mentor; there is so much to learn, and the Childrenswear industry is full of amazing, creative and friendly people. Special mention to The British Footwear Association and Department of Trade & Industry, who are also incredibly supportive.
We're seriously inspired by Project Jelly's remarkable story - are you?