Welcome to another brand new small business chat, with Deborah Price from Dap Squared Ltd. I came across Deborah via an old friend from London on Facebook who was talking about her friend’s business – it sounded fun and different so I asked if she’d like to take part. We’ve had bras before in this series, and now we’re on to pants and nighties – or I should say lovely boxer shorts and a beautiful nightwear collection. Like many other interviewees, Deborah set up her own business for family reasons – usefully, she already had a wealth of high-level experience, including working in all aspects of the business, which meant that she knew exactly which business area to go into.
Hello Deborah, and welcome! What’s your business called and when did you set it up?
The business is called Dap Squared Ltd. We have 2 brand labels. The first is British Boxers: we manufacture British made Boxer shorts using the link to my great-great-great-grandfather, the world’s first heavyweight boxing champion, Jem Mace, as the story on the packaging. The second brand is a stunning nightwear collection called Double Dapper which we’ve created using some of the finest fabrics in the word. We set it up in 2012.
What made you decide to set up your own business?
I’d always wanted my own business, but when my daughter aged 2 1/2 was diagnosed with a lifelong condition called Williams Syndrome I realised that the only way I’d be able to carry on working was if I was the boss. I needed to be in control of my time so that I could take her to medical appointments and give her the attention she needed.
What made you decide to go into this particular business area?
Simple. It’s what I knew like the back of my hand. Previously I’d been the Head of Buying at a high-end London-based nightwear company. I knew the factories, the fabric mills and the buyers, too.
Had you run your own business before?
No, but in my previous job I’d worked incredibly hard and had done every aspect of the process, the design, the buying and costing, the merchandising and the sales, so I was confident in my own ability.
How did you do it? Did you launch full time, start off with a part-time or full-time job to keep you going?
We moved up North. This mean we had a lower mortgage, and we had space. We shopped in Aldi, We forgot about foreign holidays in the summer and went camping in Wales, I could no longer afford a cleaner. Please don’t ever judge me on the dust.
I don’t think anyone is allowed to judge any self-employed person by the dust! So, what do you wish someone had told you before you started?
To be a bit kinder to myself. We’ve been through a very difficult time with my daughter and sometimes it’s very easy to blame yourself when really some things are just out of your control.
What would you go back and tell your newly entrepreneurial self?
To be honest I think I’d say “Steady as you go” and “As you were” There’s not much I would have changed.
What do you wish you’d done differently?
I’d have liked to have had some help with the accounts from the beginning. The admin can take up valuable time but conversely I do believe that unless you know what every aspect of your business is about then you’re leaving yourself exposed. It’s important to know how each cog works.
What are you glad you did?
I’m so glad I did it. That I left my job and gave it a go.
What’s your top business tip?
Research your pricing structure thoroughly. It’s absolutely essential to know the pricing of all your component parts to gain an accurate cost. From there you can work out your margin and the price you need to sell at and whether the product is a viable one to bring to market. If your costs are too high, then question how you can you lower them. If it can’t be done, then maybe your product isn’t commercial. Move on.
How has it gone since you started. Has it grown, diversified or stayed the same?
We started with British Boxers, manufacturing here in the UK and telling the story of my great-great-great-grandfather – The First World Heavyweight Boxing Champion Jem Mace on the packaging. We originally started with the traditional boxer shorts, but quickly diversified into the stretch trunks, too, and from there we have developed a range of nightwear called Double Dapper and it’s stunning. We are using some of the best fabrics in the world. I’m incredibly proud of both collections.
Where do you see yourself and your business in a years time?
In a year we’ll be selling out product into lots more stores. We’ve already been invited to exhibit at a pretty exclusive trade show and I’m very excited about that.
From a difficult time in the family, a lovely business has grown, obviously with a lot of hard work. People who are thinking of selling products will glean a lot of tips and hints from this interview, and I’m grateful to Deborah for that. I hope we see the brands go from strength to strength – do take a look at the website!
If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more small business chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured (I have a full roster of interviewees now so am only taking on a very few new ones). If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my books, all available now, in print and e-book formats, from a variety of sources.