Ask Emma: Should I go into business with a friend?

Ask Emma: Should I go into business with a friend?
Enterprise Nation
Enterprise NationEnterprise Nation

Posted: Tue 27th Jun 2017

We're off to New York this weekend for a trade mission with amazing fashion, beauty and accessories brands.

Here are the small businesses joining us on the trip.

Follow the entrepreneurs' adventures in the Big Apple with #GoGlobalNYC.

Destiny IbekweDestiny Ibekwe, Suga Dust

Describe your business in one sentence.

Suga Dust creates the most unique, crazy, interesting and super cute designs you will ever see!

How did you come up with the idea for your business?

I enjoy designing and creating as I am naturally a creative individual. So I thought it would be a cool idea to jazz up my phone case and give it some flavour!

I then created myself a very over the top phone case retaining that 'kawaii' cute feel to it; and whenever I was out and others happened to see my phone case, they would ask so many questions about it. After revealing that I was the one who created it, I was asked if I made them to sell.

At the time I did not, however, I thought people seem to love my designs, so why not turn this into a business and create cool and different products for others too! Henceforth, the birth of Suga Dust.

Why do you want to go to New York and what do you hope to get out of the trip?

I have always wanted to expand my business oversees and gauge how a different audience would react to my products.

Suga Dust Image 16 2America is a massive influential market and to gain a better understanding of that would be massively helpful.

I would also love to meet and converse with others who have happened to break into the American scene, listen to their views and opinions and how their business has grown ever since expanding into America. I would love to learn, gain new perspectives and make lifelong connections.

What are your top tips for business success?

Believe in yourself, believe in your product, surround yourself with positive people who have your best interest at heart and genuinely want to see you succeed.

Focus on yourself and stop comparing yourself to others.

Everything happens at the right time and at different times for different people.

Katarina 015 Smaller.JpgKatarina Stetz, NINNI

Describe your business in one sentence.

Personalised natural skin care with a Scandinavian touch

How did you come up with the idea for your business?

I've always wanted to start my own skin care brand. When I was five I started mixing perfumes and toners with anything I could find in the kitchen and garden. I documented everything in a turquoise and white notebook.

In pursuit of this dream I studied chemical engineering and business. Eventually I ended up working for a big cosmetics company.

One day during my maternity leave I was watching daytime TV and saw an ad for personalised snack boxes. This sparked an idea.

What if you offer personalised skin care? What if I share my passion for skin care science with other women and empower them to choose what they want in their skin care, rather than having a big corporation decide for them.

NINNI was born.

Ninni GroupWhy do you want to go to New York and what do you hope to get out of the trip?

I've just launched NINNI in the US and I see this as a brilliant opportunity to learn and expand my network in the US.

What's your one top tip for business success?

Delegate and persist.

You can't do everything yourself, and there are lots of people out there who can do things better, quicker and cheaper than you. Also everything takes longer than you think and you will question yourself on a daily basis. That's part of the process.

Danielleheadshot4Danielle Plowman, Ellie Ellie

Describe your business in one sentence.

Unique, personalised gifts with more meaning.

How did you come up with the idea for your business?

Before starting Ellie Ellie, I completed a degree in fashion design at Kingston University specialising in childrenswear.

Unable to find a design role after graduation, I set up my own girlswear shop on the Sussex coast whilst juggling a number of other jobs.

After a year I packed up and went travelling, settling in Melbourne for a while, but then my visa ran out and I was practically thrown out of the country! Returning home penniless and still unable to find a design job, I decided to create a job for myself.

My first product was a scrabble letter necklace, made from an old scrabble set I found in a charity shop. I quickly developed this range into rings, bracelets and, upon realising how popular cufflinks were on Not On The High Street, I created the my first men's accessory. Cufflinks are still a bestseller to this day, and we’re constantly expanding our range.

Front Dipped Bar Cufflinks  LifestyleWhy do you want to go to New York and what do you hope to get out of the trip?

We're growing rapidly and are very ambitious about where we see Ellie Ellie in the future.

We already sell to the USA through Etsy so we know that our products appeal over there. We’d like to expand on our knowledge of the American market, learn how to run the perfect pop-up-shop and be inspired by the Big Apple!

We're also looking forward to hearing from some industry experts and networking with other small business owners on the trip.

What's your one top tip for business success?

Focus on what you’re good at and just keep improving and expanding on that. Figure out who your customer is and try to get into their mindset, learn to predict what they want/need before they even know and you’ll always be one step ahead.

Emma MappEmma Mapp, Mapp of London

Describe your business in one sentence.

Luxury leather camera bags and accessories.

How did you come up with the idea for your business?

Female photographers will be familiar with the nuisance of carting around both a handbag and a camera bag.

I initially created these handbags with camera compartment so you do not have to lug around multiple bags. Instead, one bag does for all your essentials.

I then went to create other stylish designs, including camera straps, luggage tags and key rings all based around the photography theme.

Why do you want to go to New York and what do you hope to get out of the trip?

Photography and photographers have always been seen as an important aspect of the art world in the US.

Mappoflondon 1The US market for cameras and camera accessories is therefore one of the biggest worldwide and I am looking to get feedback on my new products, review price points and make establish sales/buyer connections.

I would like to form future collaborations and make some orders/sales during this trip by joining the Enterprise Nation mission to New York and participating in their retail pop-up store.

I would also value the opportunity to meet large, niche and online retailers and learn how they are able to be successful in an ever-competitive online arena.

What's your one top tip for business success?

Talk to the experts. You cannot run a business entirely on your own and it's essential to learn from other people and network. It's not what you know!

Santamaria ShirtmakersAna Rodriguez Fernandez, Santamaria Shirtmakers

Describe your business in one sentence.

We are a family business with a long history in shirt making and our aim is to offer a true high-end tailoring experience to a wider audience.

How did you come up with the idea for your business?

For more than 30 years my family in Spain have dressed thousands of men from young professionals to Royals. Regardless of rank or occasion the one thing which has stood out is that bespoke clothes make everybody feel special.

Providing bespoke tailoring to a wider audience has always been an aspiration of our family, and for the first time in history technology has finally caught up and made this possible.

We have assembled a superb team in London, invested heavily on cutting edge technology, performed numerous usability studies and created an online service which makes the experience of ordering bespoke shirts online easy, fast and dare I say it, fun!

Santamaria Shirtmakers Why do you want to go to New York and what do you hope to get out of the trip?

Because of the nature of our product we expect that the US to be one of the best export markets as European tailoring expertise is very highly valued there.

Our objective for this trip is twofold.

Firstly, we aim to network and make contacts that would help us learn about and expand in the US market.

Secondly, as we will have access to a pop-up retail store we believe that these initial sales will help us seed a customer base which would allow us to develop this market over the next three to five years.

What are your tips for business success?

Build up good habits. When running a business having a chaotic day is not an option. It can happen, but it should not be the norm.

It's very important to try and streamline your schedule in order to be able to effectively manage everything and not just firefight.

Don’t forget to plan in a hearty breakfast, exercise and reading time. When things get stressful these are more important than ever.

Claire WaughClaire Waugh, Craft Design House

Describe your business in one sentence.

Craft Design House is a curated online 'studio' marketplace where unique is standard and every object tells a story.

How did the idea for your business come about?

Established in 2016 Craft Design House is the brainchild of Gillian Scott, an Edinburgh-based entrepreneur and arts aficionado.

Having spent many years in the tourism sector, she came into contact with many talented artisans throughout the world who were struggling to convey the value of their extraordiary works and gain the recognition they deserved.

We live in a society where products are mass produced and everything is disposable. We want to reverse this trend by helping people make time to understand the time and passion craftspeople and artists have put into their work.

Craft Design HouswPeople want to know where a product is made, who made it and what its provenance is. We are giving producers a venue where they can showcase their work online and profit from their talents.

Why do you want to go to New York and what do you hope to get out of the trip?

I hope to gain insight into how to enter the American market and improve our current business model.

What's your one top tip for business success?

If you are persistent, you will get it. If you are consistent, you will keep it. I try to apply this to all areas of life.

SharonBoxSharonBox, Loxington

Describe your business.

Loxington is a luxury British shoe jewellery and accessories brand empowering women to accessorise and adorn their shoes in a bespoke way. We are aiming to transform heels around the world one at a time, from drab to fab.

How did you come up with the idea for your business?

I've always loved shoes but found that I didn't care much for the embellishments I was seeing on shoes in stores, the high street and online. I found the embellishments were frequently made from cheap materials, mass produced in factories and looked cheap and tacky lacking any sense of style or sophistication.

They also had no versatility as they were a permanent fixture of the shoe and you were unable to remove them. This frustrated me and so after obtaining the necessary jewellery making skills needed, and after considerable research and development, my brand Loxington was born.

My vision, to enable women to adorn beautiful, luxury, high quality shoe jewellery on multiple pairs of footwear transforming them with a unique, designer look.

Why do you want to go to New York and what do you hope to get out of the trip?

LoxingtonI believe I have a very unique product that will revolutionise the way women adorn their footwear and need to get traction with brand awareness.

I would love to export and tap into the massive US market and hoping introductions and referrals to suitable buyers and distributors/key retailers will assist with this.

I am also keen to network and attend any events which will enable me to find out as much as possible about the US market including opportunities and potential challenges that I'm likely to encounter with the fashion and accessory/jewellery market there.

What's your one top tip for business success?

To be an entrepreneur, never stop believing in yourself, have passion and motivation and make the necessary sacrifices, whatever they may be, to reach your goals.

Nneka FlemingNneka Fleming, Novel Skincare

Describe your business in one sentence.

We enhance your skin, NOT hide your story.

How did you come up with the idea for your business?

After years of working within the fashion industry I started working on a project with Chanel Beauty where we reinterpreted their cosmetics for a younger creative audience.

In creating this work I realised there was an area in the beauty industry that wasn't being addressed; that how you think and how you feel should be the focus of all products rather than what it promises to make you look like.

So we’ve created an engaging skincare range to respond to that need. Our aim is to WE READ YOU.

Novel SkincareWhy do you want to go to New York and what do you hope to get out of the trip?

We get a lot of interest from America and I want to know what the beauty landscape is like out there and how best to approach it.

I also want to get an understanding of supply and/or distribution requirements we would need to build in to our business to meet this growing demand.

What's your one top tip for business success?

Have a clear vision of what you are trying to create. Write it down as simply as you can and when making any decisions, refer back to it so you can make sure everything you do is aligning with that vision.

Rachel McMillanRachel McMillan, Rachel McMillan

Describe your business in one sentence.

Contemporary, ethical and cool.

How did you come up with the idea for your business?

I have always been interested in design and the way things are made, in particular clothes.

I used to always turn garments inside out and try and figure out how you would make them.

My grandmother was a dressmaker so I was always around creativity growing up.

I studied fashion design at university in Scotland and grew increasingly interested in sustainability and ethics surrounding the clothing industry.

I believe more consumers are interested in learning about the impact of the clothing industry and are keen to make better buying decisions if given the opportunity.

Rachel McMillanWhy do you want to go to New York and what do you hope to get out of the trip?

New York is one of key markets we would like to target going forward.

I want to go to identify stockists and learn more about the market.

I'm also looking forward to networking and meeting a new group of people on the trip.

What's your one top tip for business success?

Love what you do and stay focused on your 'why'

GaynorGaynor Matthews, Virtual Beautician

Describe your business in one sentence.

An app that shows and teaches make-up styles based on your facial features and skin tone.

How did you come up with the idea for your business?

I was working with a serious games company developing VR training tools and also advising an existing make-up artist on how to expand her business when I suddenly came up with the idea of cloning her and created a virtual beautician.

WOW HOW is a high quality app and valuable learning tool plus is a lot cheaper than a counter consultation!

WOW HOWWhy do you want to go to New York and what do you hope to get out of the trip?

I want to introduce WOW HOW to the US market and hopefully connect to retailers/beauty brands interested in a white label solution for themselves.

What's your one top tip for business success?

Make sure you have a good product with a need. Then it sells itself.

Jacqueline MaJacqueline Ma, Goodordering

Describe your business.

We make functional tech ready, retro style cycling accessories for urban commuters. Our goal is to get more people cycling.

GoodorderingHow did you come up with the idea for your business?

Living on top of a bike shop, noticing that most cycling bags were black and boring and big sacks.

Why do you want to go to New York and what do you hope to get out of the trip?

Contacts for global expansion.

What's your one top tip for business success?

Keep going!

Margaret KennedyMargaret Kennedy, Starling & Hider

Describe your business.

We offer a new choice in fashion accessories to support the mobile workforce. We have thought about what people on the go need and provide clever modular designs.

How did you come up with the idea for your business?

Arriving back in the UK from Australia as a teenager the first job I had was to try on clothes, sketch them and work out with the pattern cutter in the factory who the target customer was and what were the key features of the design which would sell that garment and why...say decolletage for a lady in her 40s or a neat, high neckline for someone in their 70s.

I later engaged the same thought processes as a student architect as an analyst working on factory assembly-line automation and as an enterprise solution architect to make stuff work for people in the built world and online.

Laterally, traveling to three countries in a week to visit businesses became an exercise on taking the minimum possible with me to do my job at a client site. Did I really need a heavy laptop this week? Did I really need a handbag? How could I make sure I didn't lose the things which were precious to me?

I also looked at my fellow travellers dropping things, losing stuff or being targeted by sneaky theives; those insecure Zippy backpacks!

With my software background I am also interested in technical ways of protecting people's cards and devices and as the market matures I do have some ideas in the pipeline for 2018.

Why do you want to go to New York and what do you hope to get out of the trip?

New Yorkers are some of the sassiest most street-wise commuters in the world.

I love New York anyway and have been here before for both work and pleasure but the key thing for me is to find out what New Yorkers think of my products. Is the idea of modular 'journey-led' choice of accessories something that would work stateside?

Starling & HiderI know what UK and Europeans feel about my products because of some focus groups we have run over here.

UK and French commuters want to protect their phones from being snatched out of their hands.

Some people actively want to display where their precious things are so that they can simply hand over a card-holder on view and protect their person. After all you can simply cancel cards.

I have conducted some online studies which were answered by US respondents but until you meet the customer and get their feedback you don't really know what their impression of your products would be.

What are your tips for business success?

Decide what is within your gift. If you understand your limiting factors - time, skills, talents, knowledge, money - and work within those to gain some traction you cannot fail.

You also need support. Your family and friends, your network and, for me, partners like Enterprise Nation are absolutely vital to help buoy up your confidence and morale and offer useful pointers along the way.

Barham AhmedBarham Ahmed, Tamo

Describe your

Enterprise Nation
Enterprise NationEnterprise Nation
Enterprise Nation has helped thousands of people start and grow their businesses. Led by founder, Emma Jones CBE, Enterprise Nation connects you to the resources and expertise to help you succeed.

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