Who is Kelly Hoppen? 12 things you should know about the new star of Dragons’ Den
Startups investigates the Den's latest recruit who's internationally renowned for her interior design but also for a touch of tabloid scandal
The entrepreneur named as the latest investor to offer their cash to early stage businesses on BBC’s hit show Dragons’ Den will be recognised by some as the former girlfriend of now retired Premier League footballer Sol Campbell.
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.
So aside from the celebrity gossip, what else should we know about the latest fire-breathing TV investor?
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.
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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.”