A leap from Corporate life to Self-employment #3 – Phanyard

Welcome to my third post in my new series on Mrs Mummypenny celebrating my small business friends. I will be showcasing people who I have worked with in my previous corporate life who have set up their own businesses. Each person will share details about things like their lightbulb moment, key learnings and proud moments. Each post will inspire you and maybe you might take that leap yourself. If you worked with me at HSBC, Tesco, Threshers or EE drop me a line on lynn@mrsmummypenny.co.uk and I can feature you too!


This interview features Holly Francis. Holly and I never actually worked together in the same team, but did occasionally meet in retail marketing meetings whilst both working for T-mobile before the merger into EE. I did work alongside her hubby for three years in the digital department of EE, we were both pay as you go sales managers. Holly is the creator and founder of Phanyard, a retractable phone lanyard which means you can completely set your hands free while keeping your phone close and accessible for photo’s and calls.

Over to Holly to introduce her business and inspire you with her story.

How long were you in the employed world and what were you doing?

I went straight into full time employment after completing my degree in Marine Science and French. I started in the film industry as a runner then moved to admin then marketing.

At what point did you think, it’s time to leave and go self-employed? Was there a trigger moment?

Having my children made me completely reconsider my career. I no longer wanted to spend so much time in the office and wanted to be part of my children’s lives as much as possible.

What plans did you put in place before leaving, e.g. training, saving money, building customer base?

I actually retrained as a Primary School teacher and tried that for a couple of years but it wasn’t the right time and I ended up just as exhausted as when I had been in corporate. It was also a very steep learning curve.

When did you leave EE and become self-employed?

I left EE in 2014 and started my PGCE certificate in education.

Tell us about your business?

I have created a solution for the continual problem of losing and smashing your mobile phone. It is a retractable phone lanyard which means you can completely set your hands free while keeping your phone close and accessible for photos and calls. It is perfect for festivals, dog walking, the school run, paddle boarding, travelling or simply keeping your phone secure in busy places. I no longer need to carry a handbag at all.


How is your business progressing?

It is gradually getting more and more attention and we are now doing variations on the original lanyard.

Can you share three business successes?

  • We have a stand at our first festival this year
  • Asking for advice from people that have been where you are has been so helpful
  • Fulfilling and shipping orders was a tough nut to crack but we got there in the end

Can you share three learning’s?

  • Be patient, don’t try to do everything at once. Prioritise and plan.
  • Working for yourself means that you no longer have deadlines and accountabilities so create some quickly or you will quickly run out of steam
  • Find a buddy to work with and share ideas with as it keeps you motivated and stops you getting lonely.
Featured in the Mail!

What things do you miss about the corporate world

  • The coffee shop at the bottom of the stairs! (haha we did have a nice coffee shop, a great place for meetings!)
  • The people 
  • The security (totally agree that guaranteed pay check at the end of the month is missed)

What things are you grateful for now that you didn’t have whilst employed?

  • I control my destiny and my time
  • My creativity is no longer limited. I can finally stretch my wings.
  • I see my children as much as I want to and help out at all the events

What advice would you give to someone thinking of leaving the employed world and setting up their own business

  • Start to scale back your spending. Put a chunk towards starting your business rather than on a new handbag.
  • Steadily build up your business while you still have your job, don’t get left in the lurch with no money for the mortgage
  • Run the idea past lots of people and set up connections and networks while you are still in your job. You can start sewing seeds immediately.


How do people find your business website, social media links?

You can find Holly’s website here. https://www.phanyard.co.uk. 

And follow her on social media at Facebook.  Instagram and LinkedIn.

Closing from Lynn at Mrs Mummypenny

Thank you Holly, we have met for coffee to talk business, I shared my learnings on building a business, networking and PR. You have such passion for your product, this will lead to success I know it. Good luck with your business and shout when you need another coffee!

This is the third in my series of Corporate Life to Self Employment: –

Read my first post from Hannah of Omorfia Home here., a furniture restoration business

And my second post from Helen White of Brilliant Together. small business marketing and strategic support

Get in touch if you want to be featured!! My website is read by 25k people per month and the post is shared with my 30k followers on social media. lynn@mrsmummypenny.co.uk






More to explore


Lynn Beattie

Aka Mrs MummyPenny

Personal Finance Expert

I write about personal finance made simple, lifestyle choices that will save you time and money, as well as products and services that offer great value.

Get the latest…subscribe to the newsletter for hundreds of money saving tips.

I wish to receive emails & promotions.

follow Mrs MummyPenny

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.