Young Entrepreneurs: Marianne Caroline Hughes, KnowLabel

Juggling training with a start-up, 23-year old Hughes holds an impressive number of titles including entrepreneur, blogger, marketer and philanthropist…

Name: Marianne Caroline Hughes
Company: KnowLabel
Age: 23
Website: www.knowlabel.org

Marianne Hughes has founded a social enterprise, ran one of the UK’s only university-funded student entrepreneur society, sold artwork for prison inmates (on behalf of HM Prison Services), launched a blog, and studied Mandarin Chinese in Asia – all the before the age of 24.

Now focused on scaling her ethical venture KnowLabel, London-based Hughes is determined to make it as a successful entrepreneur and, given her accomplishments to date, it’s a goal well within reach.

Launched last year with five employees already, KnowLabel is a digital label for clothing which shows the environmental and social impact of what you’re wearing. Fashion retailers and brands pay to use KnowLabel’s services to show consumers how ethical and environmentally-friendly their products actually are.

Hughes came up with the idea while studying at the University of Hong Kong where she says she became aware of the ways in which the stories of how our clothes are made and designed can be used as a “powerful medium” to communicate our feelings about issues such as the environment. Fast forward to 2016 and Hughes has begun to translate these ‘stories’ for high street shops such as H&M with a business model which has been profitable since launch.

You’d think running a digital start-up would be time-consuming enough but Hughes, keen to perfect her enterprise skills, is also juggling working as part of the New Entrepreneurs Foundation – a year-long training and development programme – to “prepare herself for the next step of getting her business off the ground”.

With an angel investment round set to close in the summer, Hughes has ambitious plans for the business and expects to have a team of 60 by 2021 alongside a client portfolio of some of the biggest international fashion retailers. Watch this space!

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