Posted by Sky News on 18/02/2014
We hadn’t decided on which curtains we would have and we weren’t able to find temporary curtains on the internet.
I realised there was a gap in the market and, because I did not want to retire, I asked Janice to start a business with me in December 2007 – just when the recession was starting to bite.
The plan was based on an idea from abroad, and after we decided to go into business together, we were introduced to Dominic as a supplier who was already importing goods from the Far East.
There was an instant rapport between us so Dominic was asked to become a third partner. We invested about £3,000 each.
It took us nearly two years to have blinds we approved of produced, to register our company name, set up the web site, obtain design registration and appoint an accountant.
Each of us has our own strengths: I do PR and customer service, Janice looks after product development and, as she already has an interior design business, retails the blinds and Dominic arranges ordering, shipping, freight and customs.
The first shipment arrived and was stored for free in a spare room above a shop owned by a family member. Costs are kept to a minimum, especially in view of the recession.
The orders came in slowly at first, but my attempts at PR (learnt in my first job) were successful.
Within a year of launching the website we had appeared on TV (Working Lunch and Dragons’ Den), been featured in the national and regional press and appeared in magazines. The orders grow daily.
In a recent university competition, business schools in Bath, Cambridge, Nottingham, Swansea and York entered teams to see who could sell the most blinds in a prescribed time.
Nottingham sold 668 blinds in a four-day period and the winning team received a prize.
Today the blinds wholesale in the UK and there are distributors in Europe and Australia and plans to sell in South Africa and Eastern Europe.
The turnover for the year ending September 2009 was over £100,000, and the company has no debt.
At present the blinds sell in packs of six in white or black, but the company intends to sell them in single units and several colours before long.