Eden McCusker-Thompson and Holly Jones - Mountbatten Program
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Eden McCusker-Thompson and Holly Jones

Eden McCusker-Thompson and Holly Jones

Entrepreneurial Alumni

Program: New York

Intake: August 2013

Current Roles: Founders of SunShipped

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Eden McCusker-Thompson and dear friend and former Mountbatten roommate, Holly Jones, both of New York, August 2013 intake, are realising a dream “driven by their shared love of clothes (anyone who knows us well can attest to this) and inspired by the quality and craftsmanship of emerging New Zealand and Australian brands: we’re launching SunShipped – the only place to access incredible NZ and Australian brands that embody the sunny and relaxed vibes of the Antipodean lifestyle.  Carefully curated collections. No long delivery times, no customs or duties to worry about – just sun… shipped straight to your door”.

Describe your business and your role within it.
SunShipped’s mission is to  introduce emerging resort wear designers from sunnier climates like New Zealand and Australia to the UK market. For UK consumers our goal is to ship a little bit of sun…straight to your door.

As co-founders we are responsible for all aspects of running the business – building relationships with the brands, curating each SunShipped collection, operations, marketing and making sure our customers have a fantastic experience shopping with us.

How did you get into this line of business?
It feels like everything we’ve done career wise over the last 10 years has led us perfectly to this point. We met when we were allocated a room together when we were in New York in 2013 – Holly was working in Marketing at Thomson Reuters and Eden in Operations at UBS – very different jobs, but it was clear that one of the things we had in common was how much we loved clothes.

Over the years we’ve had various roles and work experience, but our career backgrounds (in marketing and operations) have really set us up for success as business owners.

We’ve also recently found ourselves drawing on our post-grad in international business studies when we’re thinking about accounting and margins and working with international suppliers!

How did you go about setting it up and getting established?
Holly was living in NZ when we decided to go for it! It was really important for us to align on what we wanted SunShipped to be and how we were going to do this alongside our current jobs.

Setting up the business in two different time zones was a challenge but we got there. We had lots of mentors who we were able to go to for advice and guidance on how to position ourselves in the market and to brands that we approached.

Our first priority was to create what was easily identifiable, and communicate sunshine.  Our brand motto “Stay Sunny” really aligns with how we like to live our lives.

What else is in the pipeline?
Our focus right now is getting our brand out to the masses and sharing the wonderful Antipodean brands with shoppers in the UK. We’re hoping to continue to expand our product range, partner with a swimwear brand, and are planning to do a few pop ups in the UK next year!

What has been the proudest moment in your working life thus far?
Seeing the website and branding come together for SunShipped – it was amazing seeing something that was just an idea in our heads actually come to life.

What has been your biggest mistake/learning experience?
We’ve actually really enjoyed making our own mistakes and learning from them, as it means we really understand the how and the why for everything that we’re doing. If we were to bring in contractors to do everything for us, then we wouldn’t really be able to grow from the experience either.

But our main mistake in the early days would be negotiating on our “non negotiable” because we didn’t feel like we had any power in the conversation as we were so new to the market. Looking back, we should have trusted our approach a bit more and not get swayed by the suppliers that we are working with.

Who are your role models?

We’re looking at women like Glossier founder Emily Weiss and Mecca Beauty founder Jo Horgan – both saw a niche and created not just a store but a community.

Any words of advice/wisdom would you impart to others thinking of setting up their own business?
Do it! Which sounds really easy, but we know from our own experience and talking to others, actually committing to pursuing the idea or product in your head is often the hardest step.

There’s lots to learn and you have to be prepared to put in the hours, but having something that is truly yours is incredible.

https://sunshipped.co.uk/

https://www.linkedin.com/company/sunshipped/about/

As a special Seasonal offer, Sunshipped are giving free shipping with the code MOUNTBATTEN and 10% off orders > £100 with the code MOUNTBATTEN-10