Laura Tenison MBE
Founder / Founder, Wonderful Escapes / JoJo Maman Bébé
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. This founding ethos of putting people and the planet above profit resulted in JoJo achieving Certified B Corporation status early in the movement. 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. 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 has been fortunate in receiving many honours and awards over the years, including her 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). 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.