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Start up a small gift business with limited budget

The next installment of our How to Start Up series looks at how to make headway with a niche gifting business.

UK Business Forums spoke to Caz Taylor of the personalized gifting business Taylor’d  Bundles, which launched two years ago with an offering aimed squarely at the consumer maternity gifts market, but which has since pivoted to embrace corporate gifting.

First steps
Everyone likes a gift that is personalized: it shows real thought and feels extra special for the lucky recipient.

For Caz Taylor, this simple idea defines her business offer, and she initially launched her personalized crafts business with maternity gifts for consumers as her target market.

“When I became a mum my eyes were opened by the incredibly thoughtful handmade gifts we received. My whole experience before, during and after becoming a mum for the first time sparked the idea for a maternity gifting service,” she says.

“So I reached out to the craft community in the UK to create personalized, handcrafted bundles and put my background in marketing to use to create a consumer-facing website, and the business has gone from there.”

Growth with partnership
Two things, in particular, stand out when Taylor describes her journey in the period that Taylor’d Bundles  has been trading.

The first is that she has so far has eschewed staffing up in favor of developing the business through partnerships and outsourcing.

“All my products are being created by collaborators who work for themselves so I save on salaries, manage stock more effectively and yet I am able to create bespoke products in a short amount of time all in the UK.

“I’ve a team of 22 designers who hand-make and create the items for the bundles Taylor’d Bundles sells, with the model being simple and transparent in that I just take a cut of every sale, like any retailer,” she says.

Corporate calling
The second aspect of the business is how the opportunity with corporate has come to the fore.

“I knew the prospects were there with corporate, but consumers were my first target because I felt more confident about that approach for some reason,” says Taylor. “On the other hand, in my 15 years in marketing I was always pulling together gifts and looking for something with the wow factor, so the space in the corporate market for Taylor’d Bundles was easy to identify.”

The business has been self-funded, and I’ve run it all off my wits and experience this far, but it does need to develop now.

The corporate opportunity was effectively unlocked for Taylor by an HR director making an approach about maternity gifts in the context of developing a wider employee benefits strategy.

“She wanted to set a standard on the kind of gifts  those going on maternity leave would receive, so it wasn’t left to chance. We worked on the project together and the process, and the pricing and the outcomes we were proposing have formed the basis of our subsequent corporate offer. All I needed was that blueprint to speak to other businesses with confidence, whether I was making my approach through word of mouth or some other recommendation route.”

Scaling up
The question of scaling up a business without taking on staff is an intriguing one, so let’s  now return to that.

Taylor says: “I’m comfortable with the partnership model as the business evolves. I outsource all the hosting and web design and development, and I work with a creative director on the branding for the business. I also do all the social media and develop the marketing plan myself since that’s my background. I’ve got enough know how to reach out across a spectrum of marketing and PR disciplines and to feel confident that I know when I’m buying quality.”

Next steps
As Taylor’d Bundles moves into the third year of trading, the range of competing priorities for Caz Taylor is striking. Should she target the corporate market at the expense of her consumer offer? What are the prospects for growing beyond the UK? How well can she manage her stock and her supply chain as the business grows?

“I’ve thought a lot about these questions,” says Taylor. “I want us to get more established in the UK before looking overseas, and the situation with the European Union referendum has made that decision even clearer if anything.

“I do know I need to work at managing stock and also the cash flow of the business. And, I’ll need to bite the bullet and take on a couple of staff in the near future, as the current model is starting to feel stretched. The business has been self-funded, and I’ve run it all off my wits and experience this far, but it does need to develop now."

One way Taylor is challenging herself in the year ahead is through a mentoring programmer for female entrepreneurs, the Mentor MatcHER initiative. Through this she has been successfully matched for 12 months  with the entrepreneur Chupi Sweetman, who has a successful jewellery brand called Chupi.

“It was a fantastic thing to get involved with and it’s great to have found someone I have a connection who can help me. The plan is to keep in regular contact via Skype and also to meet up face to face when we can. I have so many plans and ideas for the business that I want to run past my mentor. I just know it is the beginning of something big.”

This article is brought to you by .uk, an attention-grabbing web and email domain used by businesses who want to stand out from the crowd, bringing UK values to a global audience. From ambitious start-ups to vibrant brands, this dynamic online space offers a shorter domain that puts the emphasis on you.

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