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Just go for it, retail boss tells women.

THE chairman of a flourishing national retail chain is urging Coventry and Warwickshire women to "go for it" in business.

Judy Rich, founder of Long Tall Sally, the fashion house for taller women, was speaking to the women's group of the Warwick Business School Alumni Association.

She opened her first store in 1976 with no experience in fashion or design, but driven by years of frustration at being nearly 6ft and rarely able to buy clothes which fitted.

Today, there are 26 stores in the chain which employs 150 staff. A quarter of the business comes from mail order and there are more than 200,000 women on the mailing list.

Ms Rich said: "My message to the women is just go for it. If they want to try it, they can succeed. These women have so many skills which I never had when I started."

By her own admission, Ms Rich went into business "naively", without any formal entrepreneurial skills after a career in publishing.

But she said: "I think if I had had a lot more information about manufacturing, I think I might not have done it."

It took her six months to develop the idea and another six to nine months to develop the business before she opened the first Long Tall Sally Shop off Oxford Street.

Now the chain has spread across the country, including a shop in Regent Arcade, Leamington.

She puts some of her success down to having a mentor in the early stages of setting up the firm which gave her someone to bounce ideas off and help face the fear of striking out.

Now Ms Rich is passing on some of that know-how by being a mentor herself. "I am working with one woman at the moment and I am seeing her business grow. It would be very nice if it were successful."

She believes that today is a good time for women to go into business, with many more opportunities to combine home and work life by using information technology.

"I do a lot of business from home, for me to be able to do that has been a big help."
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Title Annotation:Business
Author:Williams, Alison
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Feb 3, 2000
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