Welcome to an update with one of last year’s new batch of interviewees – Deborah Price from the boxer shorts and nightwear company, then called Dap Squared Ltd and now findable under the British Boxers brand (read on to find out how this happened). She’d been going for a couple of years when we met her in October last year, and was planning some exciting new expansion and looking forward to attending a trade show as an exhibit. I loved her certainty in her answer to that tricky last question of mine: “In a year we’ll be selling our 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.” So has it worked out as expected? Read on to find out … Oh, and a quick note: if you do read these posts as they go out on a Saturday, through a blog aggregator or all in a big block once in a while, please pop a comment to let me know – I want to make sure I’m posting them at the right time for my readers … cheers!
Hello again, Deborah! Are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?
Yes, we’re definitely selling in more stores and we loved doing the trade show and will be doing more. But we’re slicker than we were a year ago.
What has changed and what has stayed the same?
Last year when we spoke, we had two ranges, Double Dapper for the nightwear and the British Boxers for the underwear. I spoke to one of the buyers at a big department store in London and she advised me to have everything under one British Boxers label. She said that it’s difficult enough trying to break in with one new brand, let alone pushing two labels. She’s absolutely right, so that’s what we’ve done and now it’s easier to understand and we sell the whole collection as one on british-boxers.com
What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?
When I look back I don’t know why we didn’t just have everything on the one label to begin with. I also wish I’d sorted the accounts out a year ago with a simple system so that if we want investment we can go to someone with very clear and straightforward spreadsheets so they know exactly where you’re at. It’s something we’ve just started doing now and I’m really pleased. Again, it just makes everything clear and not muddy.
Any more hints and tips for people?
Just keep going. It takes a while to establish a business, so keep going, keep selling, keep smiling and PICK UP THE PHONE. Business is about relationships and it’s so easy to hide behind a computer screen or email. No good, you need to speak to people, have a laugh with them and get to know them. You’ll enjoy it more too.
You know what else, business is about buying and selling. It’s not about BMWs and dinners in fancy restaurants. That’s what you aspire to if you’re an employee. You aspire to become management and have all of that. If you set up your business that’s your risk, you risk losing all of that, but of course if you know your stuff and you’re good at what you do you might get all of that back. Ask yourself “What’s my risk?” If it all goes belly up will you still have a home, will you still have friends, will you still still be able to eat? I was able to answer all of those questions positively and so the risk to my life, my real life was minimal. My daughter had been diagnosed with Williams Syndrome before I set up my business and in part I wanted to control my time to be there for her hence me setting up on my own. When I assessed the heartbreak of her diagnosis with jacking in my posh job nothing was scary anymore. DO IT!
And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?
In a year’s time I want us to be in big department stores. We already have meetings in place for Autumn Winter 16 to see the buyers so I’m really pleased that we might be making inroads there. Also I want to increase our online sales, and they’re building all the time. Our product is really, really good! That’s the thing, people are happy to buy from you when they know it’s a really good quality product.
I love Deb’s positive outlook and the way she, like all of my interviewees, is so ready and willing to share those hard-learned lessons. I know that what I do now is very different to what I thought I was going to do when I started my business, and Deb’s right that it’s all about buying and selling, even if you’re selling a service rather than a physical product!
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.