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Started from the garage now we're here

Started from the garage now we're here

So we left you at our first trade show ever in Essex....now onto the more exciting stuff!

the trade show in Essex was OK, and then we did another one a couple of months later which was a shambles - we packed up early and left - after the 6 hour drive from Wales we stayed for a few hours before realising we were better off taking a loss and driving the 6 hour journey home.

We were starting to get a little busier online and we wanted to aim towards a bigger and better platform to showcase the brand from, so we decided to book The Clothes Show for that Christmas time, which would be around 8 months after we started the brand. The spot we could just about afford was 4k, and we spent about 1k on hiring a van, and buying bits off gum tree to paint up and display the brushes from, we loaded the van ourselves, drove to Birmingham, unloaded it, stocked the shelves, decorated the whole thing and thought for our first proper trade show it looked really good.

Here's a pic of our first clothes show stand, not bad for amateur DIY! The dressing table is the one we got from gum tree and painted, then we got the wardrobe and painted that, and the middle bit holding the single brushes used to be a stand for birthday cards in a newsagents, and we had it wrapped with graphics made from pictures I'd taken and Han created the graphics, and put pots of brushes on it instead of cards.

Our first Clothes Show was great for us, we broke even on our costs and made a bit of profit for the business, we may have been at the back facing the toilet but people found us and loved the brushes, we sold lots which meant we were reaching a new audience and new customers.

Here we are looking really happy :)

So after Xmas 2014 we'd been going for around 8 months and after that point we started to sell a few more brushes as people started talking about the brand on social media, that was helped greatly because all the celebs who were visiting the Clothes Show found us and took some brushes, and they all instagrammed them for us for free, because they just liked them! 

so fast forward a little bit to 28th May 2015, and we'd invested enough money back into the business to launch a new product to add to the range, the Glam Clam!

Here's one of the gorgeous blog posts from the event from Sofie Says Something if you want to check it out! 

Here's a little pic of us, same one as the last post but we didn't take many, and also here's us having a little street party afterwards in Soho Square with a few of our besties :)

So you may well know a bit about the brand after the Glam Clam launched, that was when the popularity started to gain pace, we had both mermaids and unicorns in our product range! We started working with a PR agency, Avant PR who are based in Manchester, and they've been working with us since and helped us grow the brand in the press, and we feel so lucky the British press really got behind the brand, now every week we see the brushes in one of the weekly or monthly titles.

2015 was a bit of a blur, we were still in the garage working hard, working really hard. We had to make a lot of boxes and pack a lot of orders ourselves, we sometimes managed to rope our other halves in to help us make and pack boxes to send out, our mum and dad helped a lot too when they could, everyone else was working but they helped when we asked them too, when we were really busy! Between the two of us we played every role there was in an online business but all at once, customer service, social media, product design, pick and pack, post office runs, stock ordering, managing finances, ordering from our suppliers, etc. etc.

Here's a pic of where we were printing order forms and labels when the orders were coming in more frequently after we launched the Glam Clam. It was so unique and everyone was loving it. The best part was we designed it from scratch, now there are so many copies, it makes us even prouder that we did it first.

so not a glam pic but part of the process was squeezing as many packages as possible into my KA and going to the post office.

fast forward a few months, and here's our next stand at the Clothes Show, which was so busy! That was Christmas 2015 and we were....yes still in the garage...we packed a van ourselves, drove up, unloaded, and manned the stand which was amazingly busy, we loved it! We even won an award for the best smaller stand...which we definitely thought we did deserve! We met loads of customers who already had the brushes and loved them, so that was the best part, we still put together this whole stand by ourselves with a lot of DIY, it took us about 6 hours but was worth it!

Here's one of us in the Van with another Sophie who works with us in the office now :) #vanlife Hannah always drives the van because she's the best driver, we help to navigate and feed her coffee.

When we got back from the Clothes show 2015, we had around 400 orders to pack that came in while we were gone, it was still just us two, Sophie was just helping us for shows at the time but she helped a lot packing orders when she could!

Xmas 2015 was breaking point for us, we were just too busy it was great, but horrendously busy. We'd been in my garage for nearly 2 years, and we were at the point where we needed to get out, no window, no breaks, no fresh air, no day light, no proper food (just coffee and biscuits mainly) was just too much to keep going and stay healthy, so we actually had a fight (punching and kicking!) so we had to find an office before we lost our minds.

We managed to get one in March 2016 and moved out in early April, nearly 2 years exactly after we launched the site. It was amazing, small, but definitely better than the garage!

We also started working with a fulfilment company not long after we moved into our office, and we were finally out the garage *woop woop!!!* 

Around 6 months after we started with out first fulfilment company, we actually realised they were massively overcharging us and we were paying way too much money, we actually felt quite upset at the fact that they called us 'Bizarre' and 'Rude & Ridiculous' when we questioned why we were paying £5-£8 more per order than was on the international shipping price list, they shouted at us on the phone and were so unprofessional, so obviously we changed company asap. You have to go with your gut when you know somethings not right.

Now we're with Cloud Fulfilment who are amazing, but you really need to make sure you pick a good company to take care of sending your orders out to your customers, they're a reflection of your business, and we'd done it ourselves for so long we needed it to be done right.

Fast forward to now.....

We're still in the same office, it's still really small and really hot, and we now have 7 of us in total in there! here's my desk, it's an absolute mess most of the time because I have no room to do anything!

How amazing though that we're now a team of 7, not including our external fulfilment, PR, and SEO team, so we're a bit bigger than that but we could definitely not fit everyone in here!

Here's the best bit, Spectrum is still owned by us two sisters with no other investors or corporate partners we have to answer to, we've managed to get through nearly 3.5 years with just us two, no business training and no real help, just a great imagination and even greater work ethic, and finally an amazing team!

Here's a few of us celebrating after an amazing photo shoot on the 1st July.

So now for the bullet points on where the brand is at the moment:

  • Still owned by Sophie & Hannah #girlbosses #girlpower
  • Still based in Barry - we do have a new bigger office though, we're moving in later this year
  • The company is still completely cruelty free and vegan
  • We're stocked in a few amazing online retailers, and we have a wonderful repeat customer base
  • We're going to be on the high street in 235 Boots stores from August 2017 :)
  • We're now working towards helping the environment with biodegradable packaging for Boots and less packaging with our own orders leaving the warehouse
  • We're hoping to support a few charities with the business, we're talking to a few but as yet undecided which is the perfect one for us
  • And if you think all that is good.....we have some of the best news ever coming out so soon that we really CANNOT wait to tell you about, but we have to keep quiet for now.
Thank you for reading!! Watch out for an update very soon!