After a very troubled childhood I started off in software, but after working in Africa, discovered a need for ethical products in the UK that would help to support 3rd world economies. This led to the launch of Tiny Box Company, which was started as a result of not being able to find any ethical and sustainable giftboxes for the Fairtrade jewellery. 15 years later, we have 100 staff and the company has continued to grow rapidly.
How did the idea come to you for the company?
It was by pure chance that I discovered a gap in the market. I was looking for ethically & sustainably sourced packaging for the jewellery company I had started and after months of unsuccessful searching, I decided to just do it myself.
How did you achieve awareness?
Dragon’s Den definitely launched us into the public eye. Most of our business is word of mouth and trying to offer consistently high customer service and listening to what our customers want from us in the way of product innovation.
How have you been able to gain funding and grow?
Since the initial funding, it’s all been organic, through retaining profits and keeping dividends to a minimum which has allowed for complete self-funding and growth. Had we taken more external funding or loans we probably could’ve grown faster but I’m risk averse.
What are the key successes?
The key successes are seeing loyal members of staff coming up through the company and achieving results and positions much higher than they’d ever imagined.
What were/are the challenges and how have you overcome these?
So many challenges. From website hacks, to fires, to floods – to cancer. They’ve all been overcome through sheer determination and resilience. And what’s the choice? You could end up down the alley with a bottle of vodka.
What are your plans now/for the future?
Expansion, mergers, and acquisitions.
What would you like to share with others to encourage them to start their own entrepreneurship journey?
I would like to share with others that you completely create your own limitations by your mindset. If you think you can’t do something, you probably can’t. The other thing that is so key is focus. So many people fail because they can’t focus on one thing and if you look at all of the really successful businesses, the founders have decided what they’re doing and focused on that. Only when the company has grown to a certain size have they then had the freedom to go out and focus on other things. It’s fact that people can’t multitask. If you start drifting around with other stuff, you’re going to drop the ball on something.
Can you share your top tips for entrepreneurial success?
Focus. Self-belief. Do you want to be on your deathbed thinking about what you did or about what you never actually had the guts to do? Every day is a new choice to think, ‘I’m going to do things differently now.’
Who are the 5 people who inspire you the most and why?
Princess Diana has always been very inspiring, because it didn’t matter what was thrown at her, she always maintained her dignity. She never lost her rag. She just always stayed composed. Kate Middleton has done the same. With everything going on in their family, she’s never stooped to a low level. You have to respect her for that. My husband. He’s just so stable and the ‘say me’ type. He makes me feel like I’m a real high-maintenance person – not in the way of gifts and diamond earrings, but he’s just so content to be of service for other people without any real needs for him. I guess Richard Branson is pretty inspiring because he keeps a smile on his face and seems less up himself than other very well-known businesspeople. And Jacqueline Gould, who runs Ann Summers, is constantly pushing boundaries and breaking glass ceilings for future women.
What are your favourite inspirational /motivational quotes?
One life. Just one.
Why aren’t we running like we are on fire towards our wildest dreams?
The clock is ticking all the time and people are just existing.
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