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Put planet first, says founder of JoJo Maman Bébé

3 October 2016

Laura Tenison in Robes

Innovators can put the planet before profit, says the owner of leading mother-and-baby retailer JoJo Maman Bébé.

Laura Tenison MBE believes turning ideas into new products goes hand in glove with running an ethical business.

The founder of the Newport-based company will deliver Cardiff University’s inaugural ‘Home of Innovation’ lecture next month (17 November).

Ms Tenison will tell a public audience how business should be a force for good where success is measured ‘not just by the money you make, but through your contribution to society in general.’

JoJo Maman Bébé operates 75 stores worldwide and has a £55m turnover, but ethical innovation lies at the heart of the business, says Ms Tenison.

“Everything we do stems from finding a sensible solution to a common day problem, being agile enough to bring it to market quickly and efficiently and being tenacious enough to bide our time if we are a little too early.

“Innovation is at the very heart of the business. We had a website long before Mothercare, and we have invented and produced everything from the design details on baby clothes to our specialist maternity and nursing products.”

Ms Tenison, an Honorary Fellow of Cardiff University, was recently named one of Grant Thornton’s Faces of a Vibrant Economy.

Laura Tenison in line-up

The mother-of-two set up her business with a single sewing machine in a disused carpentry workshop near Pontypool in 1993.

During the lecture, Ms Tenison will explain why JoJo Maman Bébé is a certified ‘B Corp’ company - using the power of business to solve social and environmental problems.

“We run the business with a strict code of conduct, which in its way innovative.

“Consumers want to buy from companies with built-in ethical standards, and employees want to work for them.”

Laura Tenison built her business from a £2,000 loan after being turned down by High Street banks.

“If you are building a business for longevity, then you need to build in ethics and innovation. Doing well whilst doing good is the triple bottom line.”

Laura Tenison MBE Founder and CEO of JoJo Maman Bébé

The ‘Home of Innovation’ lecture is the first in an occasional series of Cardiff University talks where leading innovators are invited to share their experiences with students, business leaders and wider public.

The event takes place at Cardiff Business School which is committed to a bold new Public Value strategy, delivering social improvement alongside economic improvement.

To book tickets for the lecture, please visit our event listings page.

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