Laura is the founder and Managing Director of JoJo Maman Bebe, who has grown the company organically to become the UK’s foremost niche multichannel specialist in the pregnancy and baby market. Laura has since instigated a total sale of the business, leaving the board in place to run her new sporting retreat centre in the Welsh countryside.
Until Spring 2022, Laura Tenison was the Founder and CEO of JoJo Maman Bébé. The business was digital first, supported by a large portfolio of localised stores with growing trade sales into the US, EU and Middle East. Laura instigated a total sale of the business to NEXT Plc and Davidson Kempner PE, leaving the board in place to run the business as a standalone entity to maintain its exceptional market position.
Laura grew JoJo organically from start-up in 1993 with £50,000 start-up capital and 2 members of staff, to become the leading independent omni channel brand in the sector. Pre the Covid-19 pandemic, she also ran the fully owned US subsidiary, with stores, e-commerce, trade sales and a local DC.
Under Laura’s leadership JoJo was a trailblazer in better business practices, including: Being the largest all female British board of directors; leading the way for inclusivity and diversity in modelling; using recycled fabrics in manufacturing; offering employee profit share schemes; employing those serving prison sentences; offering job opportunities to past asylum seekers; running an in-house charity based in Africa; counting Down’s Syndrome employees among the team; up-cycling shop-fit; and even being a dog friendly work place. This founding ethos of putting people and the planet above profit resulted in JoJo achieving Certified B Corporation status early in the movement.
Laura previously ran a made-to-measure fashion company she had started whilst at school, spending months travelling in Syria, India and the Far East sourcing fabrics and factories. Failing to secure the bank lending to scale the business, Laura noticed a gap in the market for a niche property agency based in Brittany, France. This service industry required little start-up capital and grew swiftly. It was sold as a going concern, giving her the capital to return to fashion, and launch JoJo.
Over the next 30 years JoJo grew into a global brand with 100 stores across the UK, Ireland, and the US, employing 1,000 people directly and thousands via the sub-contracted supply chain. The business delivered quality at mid-market prices, exceptional product innovation, bringing to market hundreds of styles, designs and nursery products which have since become family essentials.
Laura has worked as a Charity Trustee and lectured in schools and universities. She enjoys giving inspirational and information speeches to women’s groups, business conferences and at networking events. She has lectured in Europe, France and Nigeria, the home country of her in-law family. Her subject matter is varied and covers environmental and ethical business practices, and innovative and entrepreneurial thinking. He energy and enthusiasm for her subject is infectious, leaving her audiences re-energised to face their next challenge.
Her style is candid and informative whilst being entertaining. She has also appeared on TV and radio programmes and has taken part in the BBC’s Peter Jones Meets, Beat the Boss, The Apprentice, You’re Fired, Channel 4 News, BBC Breakfast TV and BBC2’s Working Lunch, BBC Radio 4 and 5, Sky News and Bloomberg TV to name a few.
Laura Tenison has been fortunate in receiving many honours and awards over the years, including:
MBE for services to business in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List 2005 (as one of the youngest recipients for business services at the time), Women in Public Life Awards, Business Woman of the Year and Welsh Entrepreneur of the Year, amongst many more.
Following her exit from JoJo, she divides her time between London and her historic farmstead in the Black Mountains near Abergavenny where she has created an extraordinary business, creative and sporting retreat centre. With 16 bedrooms over 3 properties surrounding the stunning Great Barn, her new passion; Wonderful Escapes, delivers the antithesis of digital working. This incredible venue will permit delegates or guests to congregate physically, sharing collaborative and creative ideas and enjoy exhilarating activities in luxurious surroundings. These eco-heated properties have been renovated using historic methods and are furnished with carefully upcycled furniture. The delicious cuisine includes locally sourced, home-grown, or foraged ingredients to limit the food miles.
Her passion is to encourage the ethos that less is more, and to make sure the "Wonderful" guests and delegates re-charge their energy levels and optimism, while taking time away from the stress of their daily lives. A Wonderful Escape at Wern-Y-Cwm Farm is literally a breath of fresh air.
She is an inspirational business and motivational speaker and addresses women's groups, business conferences and networking events, helping audiences to understand concepts around retail, CSR and entrepreneurial mindset.
For further information or to book Laura Tenison, call us on +44 (0)20 7607 7070 or email email@example.com
What people said about Laura Tenison
- "A lovely, warm, personable lady; very engaging. Delivered exactly what we wanted and pitched it just right to the female-only audience."
- Deloitte & Touche