On International Women’s Day (8 March), Ismay Mummery found herself standing next to armed security outside the House of Lords. Her invite had gone missing, so she waited by Black Rod’s Gate until staff confirmed she was due to be recognised as one the UK’s most inspiring female entrepreneurs whilst facing the challenges of being a widowed mum.
With her brand Boy Wonder, Ismay has drawn on her own experience as both as a designer and a mother to develop a fresh approach to children’s fashion.
Hand-drawn prints on organic cotton are transformed into boys’ sweatshirts and t-shirts by manufacturers within just 20 miles of her Leicestershire studio in a hyper-local, low-carbon manufacturing process. Ismay has even committed to an annual production limit, minimising waste and combating the overproduction which poses a challenge to the whole fashion industry.
Beyond the point of sale, Boy Wonder is committed to making sure garments last. Each piece is sold with a detailed care guide and even a repair kit, giving parents the knowledge and resources to keep clothing in use for much longer – and when boys grow out of their much-loved clothes, the brand gives a second life to the garments through a dedicated takeback and resale scheme.
It’s a business model that has earned Ismay recognition from award bodies and trade organisations ever since she launched a successful crowdfunding campaign in 2019, which allowed her to take Boy Wonder into production. She has been a finalist in numerous awards, including the Great British Entrepreneur Awards and LeicestershireLive Innovations Awards, and won Best Childrenswear Brand in the 2021 SME News British Made Awards.
But after a difficult two years in the midst of the pandemic, being recognised as one of Small Business Britain’s f:Entrepreneur #iAlso100 is one of her proudest achievements.
Among the 100 female entrepreneurs celebrated at the reception at the House of Lords this month were quantum computer engineers, vegan fruit farmers and inclusive fashion designers. Ismay was recognised for her dynamic and passionate approach to sustainability with Boy Wonder – one of a growing number of environmentally-conscious business leaders on the list each year.
“It is so vital that we recognize and celebrate the phenomenal contribution that women running businesses are making across the UK, and the far-reaching, positive impact they are having, not just on the economy, but on wider communities too,” said Michelle Ovens, founder of f:Entrepreneur and Small Business Britain.
“The last few years have been hugely challenging for small businesses, yet despite this female entrepreneurship continues to grow and flourish in the UK, and is very much at the heart of the UK’s recovery.”
For now Ismay’s focus is on building Boy Wonder as a brand, but without compromising the ethos of long-lasting, beloved, sustainable boyswear – a philosophy on which she is planning to build this spring as she launches limited edition, customised second-hand garments through the brand’s website.
“I am so proud and honoured to have been selected for the #ialso100 list and stand alongside so many amazing and inspirational female business leaders,” Ismay said. “It is wonderful to be recognized in this way for the work I am doing in my business despite challenging personal circumstances.”