Chelsea Needham, co-founder of garment manufacturer and wholesaler, Tags & Buttons, shares her insights into how the company was helped by Start Up Loans and its web hosting partner, UK2.net.
When was Tags & Buttons launched, and what is the primary focus for your business?
Tags & Buttons is a wholesaler and supplier which specialises in branded clothing. We print customers’ designs on anything including t-shirts, polo shirts and hats. My business partner and I started the company in August last year. We undertook four months of market research and segmentation analysis to help decide our go-to-market strategy, as well as which customers we would focus on, whether the business or end-consumer. I’m delighted to say we officially started trading in December.
How did the idea come about?
The idea came from friends in Bangladesh. They had come across some great clothing factories and we saw an opportunity to import some of the products to the UK. We started by selling t-shirts with our own designs, however as we wanted to sell in larger quantities we offered customers the ability to have their own concepts added to the clothing.
How successful has this approach been?
We’re really still at the embryonic stages of business, having only been trading for a couple of months. However we are confident the decision to let businesses and individuals add their own design to our clothing will be a successful business model for us. Obviously, we’ll be watching the market opportunities closely and we’ll be working hard to take this business from strength-to-strength.
How has being online helped Tags & Buttons?
We’ve had previous experience of selling clothing via eBay and Gumtree and, while we’re building up awareness, we plan to still include these sites as a route to market. However, having our own well-designed, e-commerce website is really essential. It’s a significant part of our ability to convey a positive company image, and of course it gives customers an easy way to place orders, at a time that suits them, rather than during our office hours. The website has certainly boosted sales which is obviously the overriding goal of any commercial business like ours.
Can you share your experience of using UK2.net for web hosting?
There are so many things to think about when you start a new business and for an on-line business like ours the importance of the website is huge. The Tags & Buttons website is a gateway to reaching more customers and gives us credibility in quite a competitive market. The special deal UK2.net web hosting has in place for Start Up Loans’ recipients enabled us to quickly and easily get online when our funds were really needed elsewhere. We are very grateful to UK2.net who’s support team has assisted us throughout the process. They helped simplify what to us was a challenging project.
How has Start Up Loans helped you meet your business goals?
Receiving money from Start Up Loans has helped us enormously. We’ve been able to purchase a large amount of stock which has meant we can now fulfil orders quickly. Once we sold the first lot of stock, we used the profit to buy more and this just wouldn’t have been possible without the initial loan.
What advice would you like to share with other people considering launching an online business?
Patience is key. It takes time to build an online business from scratch but it’s also a very rewarding experience. We’ve learned a lot through trial and error, so it’s important not to get disheartened if things aren’t perfect the first time, just modify your approach, and keep trying!