We asked them…
These successful entrepreneurs all started their ventures from the kitchen table and now exhibit at the Country Living Fairs. We asked them what advice they would pass on to other business owners
MADDER CUTCH & CO, TEXTILES
Madder Cutch & Co was set up by Nicola Cliffe, a chemistry teacher with a lifelong love of textiles, who left the classroom to follow her dream of going to art college. After completing an MA with distinction in sustainable textile design at Chelsea College of Art and Design, she set up the business with the goal of combating the overuse of synthetic dyes (maddercutchandco.com).
NICOLA SAYS: “Planning, patience and perseverance are key. Textiles can be a competitive industry, so it’s important to know what you want to achieve. Carefully plan any ideas you have and be patient with research and testing, but once you’ve done that, just go for it as best you know how. Listen to others – positivity from friends and family has not only pushed me to believe in myself but helps me to keep going when things get tough. Offer something unique and simply get on with doing what you love.”
HEYLAND & WHITTLE, SOAP AND HOME FRAGRANCE
Paddy Heyland and Ursula Whittle met at a trade show where he sold French paintings and she jewellery. They soon combined their respective retail talents, eventually buying their own soap-making business in 2003. Fourteen years on, they’re still going strong, producing a sulphate- and paraben-free range of handmade soaps (heylandandwhittle.co.uk).
URSULA SAYS: “Be determined and plan – planning is crucial. It’s incredibly valuable to know the market you’re going into, so make sure you do your research beforehand. Work out how much making your product is going to cost, stage by stage. I’ve also found it helpful to use skills I’ve gained in previous jobs; you learn some great lessons over the years and these can be useful when you least expect. One thing I try to live by is to have a good sense of humour – it really does help you through the ups and downs.”
FUNKY BUNCH, FLORISTS
Funky Bunch was founded by friends Fiona Lowe and Mary Jane Palmer, who met while studying floristry at Merrist Wood College in Surrey. When an interior designer friend asked them to source some artificial flowers, they discovered there was a gap in the market for beautiful fake versions and so set about making their own (fbflowers.co.uk).
FIONA SAYS: “I think it’s essential to work with someone who shares the same passion and interests, as Mary Jane and I do. We studied together, which was a great opportunity to discover how similar our style was. In floristry it’s also vital to have a broad knowledge of your chosen area, as you never know what you’ll be asked to create. Clients are the key to our business, so prioritising customer service is important and something we always try to keep at the forefront of our work.”
MISTER BERWYN, HOMEWARE DESIGNER
Mister Berwyn was launched in July 2016 by illustrator Amy Brown who handpaints all her designs in her studio with her two terriers for company. Skilled craftspeople across the UK then help to turn them into ceramics, stationery and homeware (misterberwyn.com).
AMY SAYS: “My advice would be not to neglect the small details, as it’s the little finishing touches that can elevate a piece and turn it into something to treasure. And surround yourself with talented people. I work alongside some brilliant creatives who help transform my illustrations into tangible products. They so often inspire me and show me how I can take my work to the next level. With this in mind, I would always recommend that you make the most of resources around you – you never know when or where you will stumble upon a brilliant idea.”