What has Luisa Zissman been up to since finishing runner up on The Apprentice?

Luisa Zissman (L) and Vicki Gratton

In our most recent interview, we spoke to Luisa Zissman, the runner up on the ninth series of The Apprentice, about the journey the entrepreneur has been on since the show and her latest endeavour, Silly Sentiments.

What have you been up to since finishing runner up on The Apprentice?

After The Apprentice, I’ve built a successful media career and have a production company with my LuAnna podcast co-host Anna Williamson. We are also going on tour next year all over the UK, which is sold out. I’ve advised SME businesses as a consultant too, and work with many brands on social media as well. On a personal level, I got married and had 2 more children.

How beneficial was the experience gained on The Apprentice for what you’ve gone on to do since leaving the show?

Extremely beneficial. I loved doing The Apprentice, it was one of the best things I’ve ever done. It taught me so much, mostly about myself and how hard work, and that grit and determination will get you places. I also made some great contacts and it gave me a brilliant profile to move forwards professionally.

How did you end up teaming with Vicki Gratton and what was the inspiration behind Silly Sentiments?

I had admired Vicki’s original business Filthy Sentiments for years and had purchased lots of different things from it. It played perfectly to my silly/sarcastic personality and the things Vicki designed were so clever and witty. We became friends and bonded over our love of stupidly rude silly things and business.

When Vicki was approached by someone else who wanted to invest, she asked for my advice. I soon jumped at the chance to be the apprentice turned investor. We rebranded to Silly Sentiments to appeal to a wider market and created more variety of products. As well as the rude stuff, we now offer everything from silly humour to pretty cards and gifts, so there is something for everyone.

What makes a ‘mumtrepreneur’?

I think all mums are mumtrepreneurs in some way shape or form. I suppose it’s nice to show you can have it all. Just because women have children doesn’t mean suddenly their hopes and dreams of achieving are gone. Mums especially often feel they have more to prove now they have little people looking up to and depending on them.

What trends are you currently seeing within the gift and greetings industry?

Humour! Instead of the traditional bears and flowers on cards, we have seen a huge lift in the silly, funny humour. Our silly pens are a number 1 seller too. People aren’t just buying gifts for occasions now. Often people will order something on our website just because it’s something funny their friend/relation would like.

I think the pandemic especially taught us to saviour every moment with the people we love and to not just celebrate for occasions, but to celebrate the every day too. As a brand Silly Sentiments are also very reactive to current trends; we quickly react and whip up many designs relating to TV shows etc. Our Squid Games merchandise is currently proving very popular!

What are the challenges/opportunities of running a business when you have made your name on an iconic TV show?

The opportunities are amazing, people come to me which is great and I learn about all different types of businesses and brands I wouldn’t have known about otherwise. The challenges are many. The one I struggle with the most is the expectation that it will be amazing, we’ll make a pile of money and there will be no failures.

Running a business is hard, famous or not, and there are always ups and downs. It’s hard when the press and public relish in your failings. I find that tough to deal with. People can be quick to highlight failure, which I don’t like.

What does the future for Silly Sentiments look like?

The future is bright! We’ve seen a 60% increase in sales and are hoping this Christmas we are going to hit some strong targets. The business has taken on 6 new staff since my investment and we hope to keep growing our team and our warehouse. One of my favourite things about being an entrepreneur is creating jobs. Investing in people and having a positive impact on people’s lives and families. It’s a great feeling.

How do you plan on disrupting the industry in the years ahead?

I would like to think Silly Sentiments is one of the most reactive, creative businesses in the gifting industry. We are quick off the mark and have incredible designs. The more we spread the word about what we do and make our website THE place to land on when you’re thinking of buying a gift or card the better. We have a strong marketing plan and big goals. It won’t be easy but we will get there!