Laura Hogg: Life after The Apprentice
Scottish star of The Apprentice: series 8 shares her first taste of business, juggling family life and what she really thinks of Sir Lord Sugar.
by Colleen Reid, Mindful Mum, 20th June 2012
Laura Hogg, 29 of Glasgow, entered The Apprentice after a family friend suggested on a few occasions that she would be perfect for the show. After thinking it over, Laura believed she ticked all of the stereotypical boxes in business that would make a successful candidate for the show and took the plunge earlier this year.
The Scottish business woman remembers the application process as gruelling and challenging with little room for error. She says, “It’s quite tough, initially you only get 30 seconds to sell yourself and if they don’t like what they hear, you go home. There are a lot of disappointed people and they do warn you if you are coming any sort of distance to be prepared that you may be in the process for a very short space of time.”
After lining up with another nine hopefuls in front of the daunting panel, Laura sold herself well and was put through to the next stages of individual interviews. The interviews were intensive and quizzed the entrepreneurs and business hopefuls on their current businesses, business plans and about themselves.
The next stage in the process was a team exercise where the rivals were split into groups of eight and had to build an IKEA chest of drawers in just 10 minutes. Laura remembers how frustrated the members of the groups got with each other when they were under pressure. She explains, “You can see how all these strong personalities are working together and it’s quite difficult and gruelling. You’re vying against a lot of very strong personalities and you want to make sure that your voice gets heard but almost not too much.”
Of the thousands of applicants who entered the show, Laura was selected and the mum of one recalls the phone call she received to tell her the good news. She remembers, “I was delighted! I remember I was just about to go into a meeting and I got a phone call in the car, I was squealing in the car in the car park. I had to literally get straight out of my car and head into the meeting so I didn’t have any time to digest it. People must’ve thought ‘What is up with her?!’ I was sitting there smirking and laughing away to myself. Obviously I was quite proud of myself and so were my family.”
Laura’s time on the show came to an end after Lord Sugar fired her for bringing in the least sales on an urban art task though Laura says although sales are important, they shouldn’t determine who wins the show. “It would have to be an all-rounder, definitely. It’s not all about sales and I know I’m saying that and I got dumped on a task on which I didn’t sell very well but it shouldn’t be just about sales. That’s definitely a strength but you have to be able to work as a team, manage a team and be a strong leader. Motivating people is very important as well.”
Despite admitting she would choose a winner based on a different strategy than Lord Sugar, Laura says she feels the rest of the show is very fair in the way it’s put together. Although working alongside business giants, Lord Sugar, Karren Brady and Nick Hewer, the candidates aren’t allowed to spend any social time with the mentors throughout their time on the show. The interactions we see on our screens at home are the only interactions the candidates get, making a chance of favouritism or jealousy extremely difficult.
As the interactions between Lord Sugar and the candidates is limited, Laura explains her intimidation of the multi-millionaire, “As we don’t get to spend any social time with them, the image you have of him or the image that’s shown of him on television for the viewers is pretty much how he is with us. We just see an extended version. Every so often there’s a glimmer of a bit of a laugh and joke with us but generally he’s a pretty scary guy!”
Back to business
Since leaving the process, Laura has returned to her bridal business and to her four and a half year old son, Reece. Whilst on the show, Laura was away from her tot for a full month with only a weekly phone call to keep in touch which she described as devastating. Although she might’ve been in floods of tears missing him, little Reece was none the wiser and was quite happy spending lots of quality time with his granny.
As with most parents in business, everything Laura does, including attempting to win The Apprentice, was with her son in mind. Her dedication to her son is mirrored throughout her business life with the name of the bridal boutique being Laura Reece Bridal.
After hearing horror stories of brides being forced online to buy their wedding dresses due to money worries and getting poor quality, fake dresses (or none at all) sent back to them, Laura knew she had the solution. She opened Laura Reece Bridal to bring affordable luxury to these brides. She said, “The idea behind it when I started up nearly two years ago was, there was a little bit of a recession going on obviously and people didn’t have a lot of money so I tried to offer brides affordable luxury. My dresses start at £500 so it allows brides to have a bit of an experience when they come in. They still get pampered, look around with their mum, mother of the groom or bridesmaids and not miss out on that.”
A bridal boutique was a natural career move for Laura as she followed in her mums footsteps and opened up next to her mums successful bridal footwear shop. Laura fondly remembers Saturday afternoons helping out in her mums shop and says this is where the business bug really hit her.
The confident businesswoman advises that other mums and dads thinking of launching their own business can do it and should go for it after they have a very solid plan and a good support network. She says, “There will never be an ideal time to do it, just sometimes you’ve got to do it. If you don’t do it right the first time, you’ll do it right the next time. Try to be a little bit fearless about it and plan as much as you can, it’s doable.”
For other business hopefuls thinking of applying to the apprentice, her advice is simple: “You cannot be a wall flower. There are a lot of very strong personalities going forward for this and you have got to stand out from the crowd and you’ve not got a lot of time to do it so you’ve just really got to be super confident and make sure that you get yourself known.”
Business minded Laura has drawn from her experiences as a parent for her next project. She explains, “I am now doing research for the Child Splash Guard that was featured on The Apprentice. The episode edited out quite a lot of the positive feedback we received from the parents in the focus group. Now I am expanding my research to find out what Mums and children really want at bath time.”
Have your say!
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By +Colleen Reid
Photo Credit: Emily Littler