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Claire Watt-Smith

BSc Management Studies with French (2005), MA European Business and Spanish (2006), founder of BoBelle.

BobelleportraitlargeClaire Watt-Smith founded her own eco-friendly and ethical fashion accessory business BoBelle at the age of 23. Her fascination with Business Ethics at Royal Holloway encouraged her to found her company, which has been featured in Red, Business Review, InStyle, Drapers, The Times and The Daily Mail. BoBelle’s accessory line is now sold in more than 50 retail shops including Fenwick Brent Cross.

Why did you choose Royal Holloway?

“My tutors at College advised me on the best universities to apply to. I knew I had to go for a good university with a good degree and Royal Holloway is a very highly established university. When I visited Royal Holloway, it was a spectacular day and when I saw Founder’s I thought ‘yes this is it!’ – it was just beautiful and the people were so friendly."

How did your time at Royal Holloway help your future career?

"My degrees gave me the confidence to know what I am talking about. At one point I was giving a presentation every two weeks and this helped a lot with my career. Setting up a business without my Royal Holloway degree would have been very difficult.

I also set up, and was President of, the French Society in my second year, which gained around 70 members. We went to watch French films at the cinema, had wine and cheese nights, organised a French book club, and speakers came in  to share their experience of their year abroad."

What do you do now and what advice would you give to anyone thinking about a career in your sector?

"I always wanted to set up my own business. I love business because that’s my passion. I love reading about it and I’m a keen observer of marketing tactics. You have to 100 per cent believe in what you are doing. You need to have determination because there are some days when you can feel rock bottom. 

At the start of setting up my business, I got little recognition – this is always difficult in fashion.  You have to think logically and juggle lots of things. You have people constantly calling you, but I've met so many people who can assist me in so many different ways. You need to know your strengths and weaknesses and think about where you want the business to go.”




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