What’s it like to grow a brand from scratch?

What’s it like to grow a brand from scratch?  Passion, experience, hunger – yes.  Money – no.

Of the 4, I’d rather have the 3 I had, otherwise I’d have squandered the 4th.  I know this from experience… 🙂

That was 2006.  Just me, 38 years old, even before Nicole came magically along.

So what is it like?  I’ve been meaning to do a blog since Christmas 2006, I just haven’t had a moment.  That’s what it’s been like.  For someone who’s organised, it would have been easier.   My special challenge is a brain with a permanently full hard drive.  I’m probably only operating on a 386….scarily forgetful, at least i haven’t crashed yet…although my screen does glaze over from time to time..

So, from christmas 2006, with headtorch in garage, jacket, big warm jacket.  South West London.  Wondering if I was fastracking to destitution without any of the fun stuff.   To now, Christmas 2013; fabulous team in the warehouse, in Plymouth, morale is high amongst the 12 of us, exciting times.

We’re still small.  But we’ve always thought big and continue to do so, as much as is possible whilst growing organically.  We’re trying to build something special.  Different.

This blog is about the day-to-day decisions and thought processes of how it actually is.  As well as the big picture.  You will see that I’m not perfect.  But with the 4 things at the top, that’s all we need.  (Actually, enthusiasm, if sustained, is all you need).  A little of the fifth is now coming in handy.

So what’s happening?  We’re at the height of the Christmas rush.  I’ve discounted some key core best sellers; it’s not sustainable, it doesn’t sit right and I’m never want to do it again. It’s because everyone else has panicked and discounted heavily. Muppets.. If you don’t follow suit to a degree, you lose out.  But at the same time if you don’t hold your nerve you don’t make any profit, you just get consumed by making sure you sell your stock.  It’s a game and I panicked – just a little bit – but after tonight, no more.  No more panic. Believe in what we’re doing…That’s what the January Sales are for.

I’m also wrestling with 2 key appointments for next year.  One is a buyer/product director.  To do my job much better than me.  To take the range forward.  The one I want is an old friend, but she’s busy with a big job, I’m trying to twist her arm.  I’d wait 6 months for her if needed.  I hope she doesn’t read this!

The other is someone to do our marketing.  Again, that’s my job and it’s not enough to muddle through anymore, replying on repeat business and recommendations and some catalogues.  I don’t think having a marketing department of 1 person is extravagant…until now I’ve been so focused on getting the product and the service right. I didn’t move the marketing forwards. Now, in key areas I’m getting professionals in, who do a way better job than I ever did, in every department and bit by bit we’re building strong foundations for growth.  I’m always the bottleneck.  I wouldn’t say ‘incompetent’, per se, because I must have some qualities, I’m sure; let’s just say ‘over-committed’ and move swiftly on…

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