Who is Dragons’ Den’s Kelly Hoppen MBE?

The influential design entrepreneur was only a Dragon for two years but found success backing three start-ups from tanning lotions to phone repairs

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  • Megan Dunsby

Dragon from: Series 11 – Series 12, 2013 to 2015
Number of investments made: 3
Largest sum invested: £50,000
Most successful investment on the show: Reviveaphone

Who is Kelly Hoppen?

Said to be one of Britain’s most influential interior designers, South African-born Kelly Hoppen is the woman that the A-list stars go to when they want a design re-vamp.

Having started out in the industry aged just 16, over the years Hoppen has designed for celebrities including Victoria and David Beckham and actor Martin Shaw. She has also worked on design projects for big-name clients with projects including helping to design LUX Belle Mare hotel resort in Mauritius, designing the first class cabin for British Airways, and designing for Pearl Motor Yachts.

Focused on natural colour palettes and Eastern-inspired designs, in 2014 Hoppen launched her eponymous e-commerce site kellyhoppen.com which sells a variety of homeware products and accessories as well as jewellery and gifts.

Alongside her interior design ventures, Hoppen is a serial author and has published eight books to date.

In 2009, Hoppen was awarded an MBE from the Queen for her services to interior design.

Hoppen as a Dragon

Hoppen joined the Den as Hilary Devey’s replacement in 2013 and left the show in in 2015 due to “timing commitments”.

During her two-years as a Dragon, only three of her investments went through and these included Clean Heels; a device to stop high heels sinking in grass, and Skinny Tan; a naturally derived tanning cream said to reduce cellulite.

Hoppen invested £30,000 in exchange for 5% of Skinny Tan, which Piers Linney matched, and her investment has already proved fruitful. In 2015 the business was acquired by global beauty giant InnovaDerma for an undisclosed sum and Hoppen and Linney have remained shareholders; with a lucrative return arguably coming their way.

In addition to Skinny Tan, Hoppen’s most successful investment in the Den was Reviveaphone; a specialist in damaged phone repair kits. Founded by young entrepreneur Oliver Murphy – who made records as the youngest founder to win investment on the Den at the time – Reviveaphone secured £50,000 from Hoppen in exchange for 25% equity.

Three years on, Murphy has scaled the business overseas with sales in markets such as Spain and Japan, has secured a deal with Carphone Warehouse to bring the brand into the mainstream, and is set to branch out into mobile phone repair services.

While Hoppen did have success investing on the Den, she has since said that Dragons’ Den is more of a TV show for entertainment then it is about business.

Life after the Den

In April 2015, Hoppen was announced as head judge for Amway’s annual business competition Britain’s Top Real Role Model. The national initiative intends to reward creative entrepreneurs with £5,000 to help make their business idea a reality.

Since leaving the Den, Hoppen has also focused on growing her interiors business. In February 2016, she announced a collaboration with magician Dynamo for a range of 3D-effect wall coverings designed to create optical illusions of more space.

Moving to politics, Hoppen has been outspoken on the topic of Brexit. In January 2016, she was one of 50 successful female entrepreneurs to sign a letter calling for the UK to stay in the EU and in February 2016 she signed an open letter backing the Stronger In Europe campaign.

Recognised by some as the former girlfriend of now retired Premier League footballer Sol Campbell and also known as the ‘Queen of Taupe', Hoppen also hit the headlines when she was awarded £60,000 in damages after having her phone hacked by The News of the World while she was married to the father of Sienna Miller.

But for the more discerning, Kelly Hoppen has been a major name in interior design for decades. Here are  12 quick things to know:

1) She was a teenage start-up

Hoppen started her interior design career as a teenager, when she designed a friend's kitchen at the age of 16. In the following year, the young entrepreneur designed a bachelor pad for actor Martin Shaw, a star of 1970s cop show The Professionals and latterly Judge John Deed.

2) She's world renowned

Her business Kelly Hoppen Interiors, which she formed in 1975, has since moved on to design for both residential and commercial properties, as well as yachts and jets for the rich and famous across international locations including Thailand, New York, France and Switzerland. In 2007 she said she'd never work for less than £300,000.

3) She's popular among the stars

The interior designer of choice for A-list celebrities, Hoppen has designed properties for clients including Victoria Beckham, Madonna and Elton John and is even rumoured to have worked with Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge.

4) She's based in London

Her home in Notting Hill is valued at £6m.

5) She's been recognised by the Queen

In 2009, Hoppen received an MBE for her services to the interior design industry.

6) She supports aspiring designers

Around the same time she re-launched the course for her design school, which she founded in 2003. The five-day course has seen students travelling from as far as Japan and India to learn the secrets of Kelly Hoppen Interiors and earn their diploma.

7) She shares her expertise with others

Hoppen has published seven design books to date. The foreword of her most recent publication Kelly Hoppen Interiors: Inspiration and Design Solutions for Stylish, Comfortable Interior, is written by Victoria Beckham.

8) She's already a TV star

In 2011, the interior designer hosted her own TV show on Channel Five called Superior Interiors, in which she helped homeowners to revamp their living space.

9) She likes to ‘give back'

In 2012, Hoppen became an ambassador for the Prince's Trust. Through the Tomorrow campaign, she supported 28-year-old Fay Martin, who overcame unemployment with help from the Trust, to design a home interiors product for QVC.

10) She's expanded her business beyond designing

Hoppen's own product range sold out within 24 hours of first appearing on QVC. Her product line now includes scents, paint, furniture, clothes, taps, shutters, wallpaper and prints.

11) She believes Britain is great

Last year also saw the entrepreneur become an ambassador for UK Trade and Investment's (UKTI) GREAT Campaign, designed to promote Great Britain to foreigners as a fantastic place to live, study and do business.

12) She has never taken on an external investor

She has been fiercely proud of having established her multi-million-turnover business without having to seek external investment. “I came from a wealthy background and have never not had anything,” she said in 2008. “I've had to call on the odd overdraft at times, but I've never had long-term debts – I've only ever borrowed money if I could pay it back.”

Megan Dunsby

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