THE BRITISH LIBRARY

Innovation and enterprise blog

The British Library Business & IP Centre can help you start, run and grow your business

Introduction

This blog is written by members of the Business & IP Centre team and some of our expert partners and discusses business, innovation and enterprise. Read more

30 September 2018

Libraries Week: Celebrating our National Network

We are proud to have 13 libraries around the country as part of our National Network, including three pilot Centres (Cambridgeshire & Peterborough, Glasgow and Nottingham), which joined this year. 

While libraries are more often associated with books than business, the National Network project is unlocking the potential of city and community libraries to support innovation and job creation in their local economies. Further, each library is sharing know-how and expertise in order to build the network’s services and keep abreast of developments.

National Network
To celebrate Libraries Week, we’re taking a look at the Centres and shining a light on their importance to their local communities and the businesses they have helped*.

Glasgow

The Business & IP Centre in Glasgow is one of three new pilots and part of the growing National Network of co-branded centres. It is also the first of its kind in Scotland. Housed in Glasgow’s famous landmark, The Mitchell Library (founded in 1877), it is now the hub of a city-wide information service. In partnership with the National Library of Scotland and the UK Intellectual Property Office, the Business & IP Centre in Glasgow allows entrepreneurs to take advantage of free intellectual property and business information and expertise.

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We asked Rosemary O’Hare, Principal Librarian at the Mitchell Library in Glasgow, to tell us a bit more about the newly launched services:

"Our services are vital for the local community as they support employability. Those thinking about career options, preparing for a job interview or self-employment can find all the information they need as well as facilities, including PCs, wi-fi and quiet spaces to allow them to explore their options.

We also give entrepreneurs the chance to explore their business idea for free and at their own pace. Access to industry standard business information along with advice and support levels the playing field for those starting out with limited funds. Our events and networking opportunities allow individuals to make connections that can help them improve their business.

It’s also useful to call on local partners to contribute who may be active in the local area, and the connections between library and these organisations usually work well for both the library and partners; and of course we all share the same customers." 

Birmingham

Over 300 workshops and 1-to-1s took place with Retail/Wholesale/Transport and Creative/Media/Publishing being the highest joint sectors the Centre’s users operated in.

Birmingham

Devon

BIPC Devon with Duchess of Cornwall

65% of the Centre's users were women with Creative/Media/Publishing and Retail/Wholesale/Transport being the highest joint sectors the Centre’s users operated in.

Devon

Hull

27% of users were aged 16 – 34, with 40% of users being employees, 27% self-employed and 6% owners of businesses.

40% of businesses were in the Creative/Media/Publishing sector.

Hull

We asked Michelle Alford, Library Services Director, Hull Culture and Leisure Ltd, why their services are vital for the local community, and she explained: 

"Public libraries are unique in communities in every locality, no other public, voluntary or private sector venue holds the trust of its communities as libraries do. The level of trust placed in public libraries is built on the knowledge and confidence that anyone can walk through the door (regardless of age, sex, religion, ethnicity, background, education or other characteristic), be met with a warm welcome and be able to spend time using the space and resources to achieve their purpose without having to purchase anything or justify their reason for being there.

Our activity isn’t confined to the walls of the library either, our brilliant staff spend time in communities to understand their needs, share information and encourage them to achieve their dreams using the support and resources of the library as and when they need to. We design services and activities to meet the needs of communities, provide opportunities and to connect people with one another.

A vital link to validated information resources, high quality activities and excellent customer care!”

Leeds

Over 400 people attended 1-to-1s, workshops and events, of which 35% of users were aged 16 – 34 and Creative/Media/Publishing, Retail/Wholesale/Transport and Professional services/Consulting being the highest % sectors the Centre’s users operated in.

Leeds

Liverpool

BIPC Liverpool - launch Jan 2015

29% of Liverpool's Business & IP Centre's users were employees, 25% self-employed and 11% owners. The biggest sectors users operated in were Retail/Wholesale/Transport and Creative/Media/Publishing.

Liverpool

Manchester

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35% of users were aged between 16 – 34 and 38% of users were self-employed, 27% employees and 14% owners of businesses. Retail/Wholesale/Transport and Professional services/consulting were the sectors most of the users worked in.

  Manchester
 Newcastle

BIPC Newcastle

61% of users of the Business & IP Centre were female and more than 550 people attended 1-to-1s, workshops and events. 43% of users were employees and 33% were self-employed. Professional services/consulting was the sector most users operate in.

Newcastle

Norfolk

BIPC Norfolk

36% of the Centre's users were employees and 22% were self-employed. Creative/Media/Publishing was the sector most of the users operate in.

Norfolk

Northamptonshire

38% of Centre users were self-employed, 21% employees and 20% unemployed. Professional services/consulting and Creative/Media/Publishing were the sectors which used the Centre the most. Northamptonshire has a 98% satisfaction rate for the format, quality and relevance of their offerings. 

Northampton

Sheffield

34% of users were employees and 31% were self-employed.

Sheffield

* all data is from April - June 2018

28 September 2018

Top tips from Start-up Day 2018

Activities in 17 libraries around the UK. 101 business events delivered. More than 1,000 attendees across all locations. Webcast around the world. Start-up Day, in collaboration with Santander, once again proved to be a huge success. 

With a full day’s worth of events, there’s a lot of information and words of wisdom to take in from each speaker. Need a recap of what was said? Missed a crucial top tip? Want to relive it again? Or if you missed it, we’ve compiled all the videos of the speakers in this post, along with a key take away tip from each...



Top tip from Mintel senior consumer lifestyles analyst, Jack Duckett: Consumer confidence is on a growth trajectory, meaning there are opportunities for brands to grow.



Top tip from Google Digital Garage's Chami Coomasaru: Set yourself goals, think how you want your brand to be perceived and choose the platforms which are appropriate for your business.

Top tip from author and motivational speaker, Anis Qizilbash: Steep in your purpose... your success does not mean another person's loss. The more you make, the bigger impact you create.



Top tip from public speaking coach, Elaine Powell: [Your pitch] is never going to be perfect. Always ask for feedback and take your performance to the next level, and the next level, and the next level. Never give up, it's a journey, not an end destination.

Top tip from author, motivational speaker and business coach, Rasheed Ogunlaru: [Networking] online is the window to your world, meeting people in person is the door.



Top tip from former CEO of Tangle Teezer, Matt Lumb: Don’t try and do the 80 hours a week thing. You will burn out. Try and get that balance as you scale.



Top tips from:

Precious Jason, founder of Etieno Skincare: Being in business you have superhero days and you have days which are not so great… Be kind to yourself. 

Rebecca Slater, founder of Shine Creative Solutions: Believe in the idea you’ve got and to try and plan out the three most important things you need to get right.

Amy Fleuriot co-founder of Hiro + Wolf and Artisans and Adventurers: Don’t expect it to happen overnight. If you’re having to work alongside it, that’s ok… Just keep at it.

 

Start-up Day 2018 was in collaboration with Santander. To see our events throughout the year, click here.

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19 September 2018

Start-up Day: Meet the Speakers

With Start-up Day fast approaching, here's an introduction to a few of the speakers who will be giving their expert advice on the day.

How to understand the UK market right now
Jack Duckett
@mintelnews

Jduckett@mintel Headshot (B&W)

I am the senior consumer lifestyles analyst at the market intelligence agency Mintel, and I am very much looking forward to sharing my presentation with you.

My presentation has two goals; the first is to help you to get a better sense of the breadth of Mintel research that you have access to at the British Library and the network of libraries around the country. The second is really to give you a sense of the important role that we believe market research plays for businesses today.

For start-up business owners, it can be taken as a given that you know your product and customers extremely well. But, when it comes to your Dragons’ Den moment, whether that be with your bank manager, an investor or a retail buyer, market research can provide the information you need to support your brand and help it to stand on its own. The second core benefit to market research is in helping you to know where to go next with your business, enabling you to see what is changing in your category and helping you to be prepared for the future.

How To Build an Authentic Business Network
Rasheed Ogunlaru
@RasheedOgunlaru

Rasheed Image 1

“Networking, love it or hate it, building a genuine network, is vital in starting and growing business.” says Rasheed. “This session will help session will help you network strategically, effectively, authentically and nerve free.”

Rasheed’s top three quotes and tips on networking and building an authentic business:

  1. Always have something shrewd to say and valuable to bring to the table
  2. Your online, website and social media presence are the window to your world - meeting people in person is the door
  3. What people feel and say about you when you leave the room is your job while you’re in the room.


How to be an entrepreneur
Matt Lumb
@mattlumb1

ML headshot

During Matt’s seven years at Tangle Teezer he transformed the brand from being a “Dragon’s Den reject” to one of the fastest growing companies in the UK and a household name. Matt talks openly about the challenges he and his team faced whilst trying to manage exponential growth overseas growth, UK manufacturing capacity, the importance of IP as well as copycat and counterfeit issues and the grey market. The Tangle Teezer story is a fascinating one as he took it from a start-up to having a valuation of £200M inside five years.


Start-up Stars: How I turned my business idea into a reality

Amy Fleuriot
@hiroandwolf
@artisansandadventurers

Amy Fleuriot

Starting your own business can be an equally exciting and daunting time. I founded Hiro + Wolf five years ago with my wonderful business partner, Bee Friedmann and we have learnt so much on our journey. What started as an accessories brand for people and their pets has grown into two distinct businesses as we launched Artisans & Adventurers two years ago with the help of the British Library. My expertise include design, branding, marketing, ethical sourcing and everything that goes into the day to day running of two shops, an online store and wholesale business. I am looking forward to hearing what challenges new businesses are facing and hope I can offer some advice on the start-up stage.

For more information on Start-up Day, to see which libraries are involved around the country and to sign up to the webcast, visit our website.

07 August 2018

If the Shoe Fits… Finding your Business Niche

Finding your niche in any market can be tough; who is your customer? What do they want? What are your competition doing? Amanda Overs, graduate of the Business & IP Centre’s Innovating for Growth: Scale-up programme and founder of I Can Make Shoes, set up a shoemaking school after being unable to find a course to make shoes, without the need for heavy machinery.

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I Can Make Shoes workshop

“I was sick of being told ‘you can’t do it like that’” (by traditional shoemakers). With the demand for slow fashion and a resurgence of sewing and crafting, Amanda decided to put a positive spin on the negative backlash and eight years later has gone from running classes in her living room by herself to employing five part-time members of staff and running workshops almost every day of the year in both London and New York.

Research was crucial in finding out exactly who I Can Make Shoes’ customers were. Amanda says, “There has been a lot of trial and error over the years, but what I have found is the fastest, most efficient way of doing research is to actually ask your customer what they think. I regularly do surveys when I have a new idea to see what my audience think of it and recently started a Facebook community so that I can see for myself what it is that my students and customers really want and need.”

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I Can Make Shoes now run workshops in both London and New York

Amanda is always looking at ways to improve I Can Make Shoes’ offering and the business is always changing and improving. Something Amanda says is “key to staying ahead of the competition”. Not only do they run workshops for members of the public, they also have online shoemaking instructions, sell components, and train designers from major high street brands such as ASOS, River Island and Adidas.

The Innovating for Growth programme has helped Amanda take I Can Make Shoes to the next level, “It’s helped me to step back and reassess the business as a whole and identify the key areas of potential growth. I started in a bit of a whirlwind and have been treading water ever since, so to have fresh (very experienced) eyes and non-biased opinions on my plans for the future has been absolutely priceless”.

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"Fail fast, learn faster and move on to the next thing.”

What tips does Amanda have for finding your niche? “Trust your gut. Don't over think every detail. Fail fast, learn faster and move on to the next thing.” Amanda lives by her rules, due to popular demand she will be offering a new sneaker course launching soon...

Apply now for over £10,000 worth of business advice!

If you are already running a business and are looking to take it to the next level like Amanda, our three-month Innovating for Growth programme can help turn your growth idea into a reality. Applications are now open, so find out more here and apply now!

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This programme is fully-funded by the European Regional Development Fund and the British Library.

01 August 2018

IP Corner: Patent databases, which one is right for you?

Here at the British Library's Business & IP Centre we meet many inventors who are starting out on their journey through to patenting their inventions. The majority understand that their first action should be to search to see if their proposed invention is truly ‘new and innovative’ as it must be in order to obtain patent protection. What inventors will be searching for is known as ‘Prior art’ which is basically anything that shows the proposed invention is already known and is therefore not new. Prior art doesn’t have to be a patent, it could be a newspaper advertisement, a magazine or journal article or even a product on sale in another country. 

Most inventors will have heard of, and some may even have used, the Espacenet database. Espacenet is a patent search database containing data on over 100 million patent documents worldwide. Searching the database is fairly intuitive, but if needed there is a very informative Help section to aid the novice searcher. Espacenet is a great starting point for any would be inventor and is freely available via https://worldwide.espacenet.com.

What is generally less known by inventors is that here at the Business & IP Centre we subscribe to another search database that our registered readers can use for free. This database is the Derwent Innovations Index or DII as it is also known. 

DII is a search database that provides access to more than 30 million inventions as detailed in 65+ million patent documents. Once a search has been run, clicking through from the results list, users are able to view details of the relevant patent including any patents and/or articles cited as ‘Prior art’ against it. For most patents there are also links through to Espacenet to view the full published specification.

Espacenet also does this, so what are the advantages of visiting the Business & IP Centre and using DII

Well, it should be remembered that patents are technical documents which are written in such a way as to meet all the relevant criteria for obtaining a patent but, by providing only the most important information, give nothing away. 

With Espacenet you are searching the patents as published; the title or abstract, bibliographic data, description and claims all exactly as written in the original documents. This can make keyword searching problematic, not everyone will necessarily use the same keywords to describe the same subject, and often searchers will need to resort to classification searching to ensure they are searching in the correct technical area. Add to this the fact that patent titles can be slightly ambiguous and patent searching can become slightly more difficult.

With the Derwent Innovations Index (DII) what happens is that when a patent is published a member of the DII team who is experienced in the particular technical area covered by the patent takes the patent specification and does the following:

  • Writes a more concise title that describes the invention and its claimed novelty
  • Then writes an abstract giving a 250–500 word description in English of the claimed novelty of the invention
  • Finally, DII also add their own ‘Class codes’ and ‘Manual codes’ to the records: Derwent Class Codes allow the searcher to quickly retrieve a particular category of inventions whilst Derwent Manual Codes indicate the novel technical aspects of the invention.

To give you a quick example of this, the title of patent WO2018064763 on Espacenet is ‘Compactable bicycle’ as shown below:

Espacenet example
Espacenet Patent search

Whereas on DII the title is written as:

Derwent Innovations Index
Derwent Innovations Index

The Espacenet bibliography and abstract looks like this:

Espacenet bibliography
Espacenet bibliography

Whilst the DII bibliography and abstract looks like this:

DII bibliography
DII bibliography

Note: DII highlights, Novelty, Use and Advantage within the abstract.

Another advantage DII has is that using the Advanced search option searchers have the ability to ‘build’ a search by searching keywords, classifications, inventor/applicant details etc. and then adding search sets together as desired.

DII advanced search
DII advanced search

Searchers then click on the live link in the Results box to view the results list from where they can select relevant patent records to save to a Marked list. Searchers can then email the results from the Marked list to themselves to view later if they wish.

With the Espacenet database searchers can download and print out copies of the front pages of relevant specifications (known as covers) or they can select titles from their search results list to export to either CVS or XLS. Copies of full patent specification can also be downloaded and printed out if desired.

Both Espacenet and DII are extremely useful for searchers. Each database has their own strengths and weaknesses, but if you visit the Business & IP Centre we will be happy to discuss your needs and show you how to get the best from both databases.

Maria Lampert, Intellectual Property Expert at the Business & IP Centre London

Maria has worked in the field of intellectual property since she joined the British Library in January 1993. She is currently the British Library Business & IP Centre’s Intellectual Property Expert, where she delivers 1-2-1 business and IP advice clinics, as well as intellectual property workshops and webinars on regular basis.

24 July 2018

Meet Martha Silcott, breaking taboos, one period at a time

Each year 1.4 billion tampons are flushed, ending up in the sewer system, causing flooding and pollution. Water companies spend 88 million pounds per year getting all the un-flushable items out of the sewers. What can be done to solve this problem? Martha Silcott is on a mission to find a sanitary solution for this sanitary problem with her corn starch, biodegradable fab little bags...

Tell us a little more about FabLittleBag?

FabLittleBags are biodegradable opaque, sealable sanitary disposal bags that prevent aquatic pollution and actually make disposal feel good!

What inspired the creation of the product? Did you have a ‘Eureka’ moment that convinced you that this was a good idea?

Sitting on the toilet thinking “there must be a better way of doing this” as I performed the LooRoll Wrap with reams of toilet roll for the umpteenth time… Recalling the times when round at friends houses and there was no bin in the downstairs loo so I resorted to doing the Handbag Smuggle. I got cross that there was not a better solution out there, I researched it expecting to find one, I didn’t so I decided to invent one myself. I did loads of research in the British Library, researching the market, the companies involved, the blockages caused by flushing etc. My Eureka moment was when I finally figured out the design of FabLittleBag; its unique one-handed opening and that it had to seal – I ran around the house gathering bits of sandwich bags, sellotape, staplers etc. and made a Blue Peter version.

FabLittleBag_Martha_Silcott
Martha Silcott, founder of FabLittleBag

What steps did you take to protect the IP in your design?

I learned a lot about IP form the British Library sessions and their intro to an organisation called Ideas 21 – so I had a free session with an IP lawyer to establish if it was a starter or not – and it went from there, applying for my patent in 2006.

Did you use the resources and training available through the Business & IP Centre to research and launch the business? 

Yes, general market research; access to huge data resources at no cost, if you were to buy the info yourself each one costs thousands of pounds! IP information, a basic course on social media later on, all very useful along the journey.

Tell us more about how are you working with the British Library to bring FabLittleBag to more users?

We are currently trialling FabLittleBag in two toilet blocks, these are ones which have a very high level of blockages causing cost to the Library and inconvenience to users. The Library has a lot of through traffic and we know that approx. 60% of UK women flush their tampons and with other habits and cultures passing through blockages are a real challenge for the Library loos! So our gorgeous new dispensers are installed in these blocks and we have already had direct email contact from a few users telling us how fab they think FabLittleBag is! We are offering all British Library users who email us a free sample pack of FabLittleBags to try, so don’t be shy!

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The best disposal solution. Period

What is the vision for the future of the company? Where will FabLittleBag be five and 10 years from now?

We have BIG plans! We already have customers from lots of countries all over the world but we want to ensure that any Binner that dislikes doing the Loo Roll Wrap and wants to feel more in control and calm at point of disposal have FabLittleBags in their life and that we convert as many Flushers out there as possible into Binners – frankly whether they use FabLittleBags or not, we just want to stop the flushing of non-flushables and so prevent blockages and aquatic pollution at source.

One of our Missions is to #screwthetaboo and break down the ridiculous taboo that still exists around periods in 2017! Involving men and boys is important in this journey as they are involved even if it is not them having periods! Replacing feelings of awkwardness and anxiety around disposal of sanitary products is a core mission of ours, helping women to feel more relaxed and calm as they know that even if there is only two bits of loo roll there, or there is no bin, because they have FabLittleBag, they will be able to disposal of the product easily and without stress. We also want to support our chosen key charity (WellBeing of Women) and to expand our charitable impact as we grow, also helping to support smaller local charities and some abroad where the issues of menstruation has huge negative impacts of girls and women’s lives.

So five years' time to be a normal ‘must have’ in the handbags and bathrooms up and down the UK, Europe, USA, etc. and other countries where disposables are still the most common form of managing ones period (therefore disposal solutions are especially needed). 10 years time to be so successful that our charitable foundation Fab Friends, is making a huge positive impact on menstrual health and practical management for millions of women across the globe.

FabLittleBags will continue to be trialed at the British Library to help prevent the negative impacts of flushing sanitary products.

10 July 2018

Liz Earle MBE: live up to your brand principles which stand the test of time

Liz Earle is a household name. A wellbeing entrepreneur, TV presenter and the number one bestselling author of over 35 books on a range of health, beauty and wellbeing topics, she is also the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Liz Earle Wellbeing magazine and founder of Liz Earle Fair and Fine, an award-winning range Fairtrade gold botanical jewellery.

What you may not have known is that when starting a career in wellbeing, if Liz needed to carry out research she would always come to the British Library. 30 years later, we’re welcoming her back to share the business story behind her success with the next generation of entrepreneurs at Inspiring Entrepreneurs: Feelgood Founders.

Liz - checking proofs - CREDIT Georgia Glynn Smith
Liz Earle, founder of Liz Earle Wellbeing. Credit: Georgia Glynn Smith

Can you tell us more about Liz Earle Wellbeing?

It’s the hub for all my written and online work in the world of wellbeing. Liz Earle Wellbeing itself is a high-quality magazine focused on food and living well. It’s based on over 30 years of award-winning advice, experience and research and is packed with tried and trusted recipes and inspirational ideas and ways to bring out the very best in you!

Alongside the magazine, I’ve recently launched the Wellness with Liz Earle podcasts, with downloads hitting 150,000. Recent guests have included the hilarious Kathy Lette, the brilliant Hemsley sisters and the gardener, TV presenter and writer Sarah Raven. 

 

What new business habits have you introduced since starting your career in wellbeing?

One relatively new habit I’ve introduced is social media engagement - it’s easy to forget how relatively new social media is, Instagram was only launched in 2010 so it wasn’t around when I was building my beauty brand. I confess I was nervous about putting myself in the spotlight, but now I absolutely love having my own voice, especially on Instagram as it’s a lovely community. Customers just love to connect with actual founders and not faceless brands. Authenticity is such an asset.

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What business advice can you offer for budding entrepreneurs?

One of my motto’s is “if it has to be now, it has to be no”. I like to be able to at least sleep on a business decision and make sure I still feel the same way about something the following day.

 

You’ve said that you have used the British Library for your business research. Are there any major milestones you’d recommend aspiring businesses always check into before they leap?

I’d say always do thorough research on any area you are looking at working in!  You need to really do your research and know your subject – and not just via the school of Google. I have a saying that it takes 30 years to build trust and 30 seconds to destroy it and I think this is never more true than in the fast-paced world we live in today. I’ve instilled in all my team a commitment to be very careful about everything they write, post and create to maintain the trust our customers have in the Liz Earle Wellbeing brand. For example, always go back to the source when quoting any study, don’t just reply on newspaper or online headlines, which so-often misinterpret the data.

 

If you were an ambitious entrepreneur attending the 'Feelgood Founders' event, what question would you ask yourself? 

What is the key to brand loyalty? To which I would say, it’s living up to your brand principles – which have to stand the test of time and not get diluted by Committee.  Brand founders are perfectly placed to protect the core essence of what their brand is about. They are the ultimate brand guardians and the only truly authentic and genuine voice customers want to listen to.

 

Liz will be appearing at the upcoming Inspiring Entrepreneurs: Feelgood Founders event on July 10, alongside Mark Constantine OBE, Co-founder of Lush, Simon Duffy MBE, Founder of Bulldog Skincare for Men and Sherille Riley, Founder of Nails and Brows Mayfair Boutique. You’ll hear the stories behind some of the best-known health and beauty brands and also have the opportunity to ask our expert panel your burning questions and make connections over drinks and canapés at the networking reception after the event (which is included in the ticket price). Tickets cost just £10 and are available here.

02 July 2018

From Under Dog to Top Dog in the Male Skincare Industry

Bulldog Skincare for Men launched eleven years ago, and is currently driving the market for male skincare growth in the UK. Way back in 2008 we welcomed the founders to the British Library stage to talk about the brand that was changing the face of the male skincare industry with its natural ingredients and bold, simple designs. In those days Bulldog, at less than twelve months old, was a mere pup!

However, ten years on and the brand’s 40-strong range is now available in 24 countries with a product sold every seven seconds globally. We’re thrilled to be welcoming Simon Duffy to our Inspiring Entrepreneurs: Feelgood Founders on July 10, and caught up with him before the event to talk about how Bulldog became every man’s best friend. 

Bulldog was launched in 2007, now eleven years ago, but what inspired the creation of the business? 

We launched nationwide in the UK in 2007 with Sainsbury’s. I originally had the idea for Bulldog Skincare for Men in November 2005 whilst I was shopping for natural skincare products for my wife. I was buying some of her favourite products when I noticed that there were no straightforward skincare options for men which contained natural ingredients. This kick-started the R&D process, which flowed into fundraising, and culminated with our first retailer launch.

Simon
Simon Duffy, Co-founder of Bulldog


What are the key changes in the sector since you've been established and how has the business changed to respond to that?

The 2013 European Ban on animal testing in cosmetics was a great moment for everyone who is interested in ‘Cruelty Free’. We have kept to the ‘Cruelty Free’ standards right from the very beginning. It’s a fundamental part of how we think about formulation.

Today, the focus on sustainability is more important than ever. This is also an area where we want Bulldog to continue to push boundaries. 

For example, we have never used plastic microbeads which is unusual in the industry. More recently Bulldog became the first men’s skincare brand to use plastic tubes derived from sugarcane rather than fossil fuels.

Recently we launched a new razor which uses much less plastic than conventional options and overall is trying to be much more environmentally responsible. The handle of this new razor is made from a bamboo rather than plastic, and the packaging is created using recycled card stack and environmentally soy inks. Overall there is much less plastic being used in both the primary products and in the outer packaging.

In a crowded market how have you been so successful in making your products and brand stand out?

When you don’t have the enormous budgets of the massive companies you compete with, you must believe that your products can do the talking for you. We have always set out to make amazing products and I believe word-of-mouth has helped to grow our sales.

From a branding perspective we very purposefully intended to stand out in a crowded market. Before Bulldog, the men’s skincare aisle was a sea of blacks, blues and greys. All these products were marketed with complicated skincare jargon. Our simple white packaging was chosen to be different; and our straightforward language was intended as an antidote to the unnecessary complexity we saw elsewhere.

From a formulation perspective, Bulldog also stands out as something different from the norm. There are controversial ingredients we won’t use, and instead we prioritise natural ingredients and essential oils.

Original_Range_1
A selection of original Bulldog products


We know that all Bulldog products are suitable for vegans, are free from micro beads and use
sustainable packaging. How important is it you to create an ethically sound product and has that always been the case?

It’s fundamental. This has been our stance since day 1 and it won’t change.

If you were an ambitious entrepreneur attending the 'Feelgood Founders' event what question would you ask yourself? 

I'd ask what is the best way to make a brand famous?

What key piece of advice would you share with an aspiring health & wellness owner to give their business the best chance of success?

Collaboration really is key. Figure out what you’re good at and then build a team, both internally and externally, to support you in areas where you know you’re not as strong.

 

Simon will be appearing at the upcoming Inspiring Entrepreneurs: Feelgood Founders event on July 10, alongside Liz Earle MBE, Mark Constantine OBE, Co-founder of Lush and Sherille Riley, Founder of Nails and Brows Mayfair Boutique. You’ll hear the stories behind some of the best-known health and beauty brands and also have the opportunity to ask our expert panel your burning questions and make connections over drinks and canapés at the networking reception after the event (which is included in the ticket price). Tickets cost just £10 and are available here.

 

08 June 2018

Exploring the archives… and finding commercial treasures

Because I spent many years in business focused on developing new products I’m always looking for inspiration. New products, creative ideas and services rarely appear out of nowhere, instead we come up with them because we see something that gets us thinking in a different way. Equally, some research back in time often bring s out ideas which you can make fresh and exciting.

 

Harry Potter: A History of Magic

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A recent exhibition at the British Library focused on a history of magic, themed around the 20th anniversary of the first Harry Potter book by JK Rowling. The artefacts they uncovered pay tribute to Rowling’s careful research as much as her fertile imagination. There were instructions on how to cultivate Mandrakes or make the Philosopher’s Stone, manuals on how to read tea-leaves or palms detailed enough to be a textbook in Divination and how to get the very best bezoar stones (from a goat). Although she obviously decided against the advice on fending off basilisks (keep a weasel in your pocket), opting instead for the more elegant Godric Gryffindor’s sword.

The archives of the British Library are not just useful when you’ve got a PhD thesis to write. Instead they offer a treasure-trove of materials, ideas, illustrations and texts that any creative entrepreneur would give their eye-teeth to use for inspiration. Think of Rococo Chocolates, whose signature packaging comes from an 18th century catalogue of chocolate mouldings. Theatre company Undercurrent created a sell-out theatre production Calculating Kindness which was inspired by material from the Library's contemporary scientific archives.

Meanwhile fashion designers wanting to focus on the current interest in kimonos might want to explore the Library’s Japanese collection, which contains original kimono patterns from before the twentieth century. I have a book which offers advice to young ‘memsahibs’ heading out to British India, the details in it almost make creating fiction unnecessary.

We think of copyright as providing protection. But at the moment when it expires (in the UK, 70 years after the death of its creator, to give you a very rough idea – you should always check each item individually for any exceptions but there are experts on hand in the Business & IP Centre to do just that), it opens up a whole new world of inspiration and product possibilities which could be a goldmine for businesses.

 

A little exercise for your business

Here is an image from the British Library’s archives. It’s a beautiful illustration of a llama.

Llama

How could you use it as inspiration in your own business? Stop reading right now and write down five ideas. Right now. I dare you. Thinking out of the box around unusual items often brings us new ideas, whether directly connected or not, so it’s a useful exercise to do regularly.

Here are a few ideas: Ex libris (stickers proclaiming a book is yours) designs for a stationery business; using old illustrations for a new ABC or storybook; a design for fabrics/upholstery; branding for your llama picnics (there is such a business, I want to go…) and the decor for a Peruvian restaurant or range of ‘superfood’ products from Peru. A t-shirt design; a video game where you get allocated certain animals and have to look after them; a wool or clothing or home furnishing company specialising in llama and alpaca fibres; a travel company specialising in South America… I think you get the picture.

 

Melissa Addey on behalf of the Business & IP Centre

Melissa Addey spent fifteen years developing new products at Sainsbury’s Head Office and then went on to mentor over 500 entrepreneurs as part of a government grants programme. Now a full-time author, studying for a PhD in Creative Writing, she has written six books including fiction and non-fiction. www.melissaaddey.com

19 May 2018

Royal Wedding designer inspiration: quirky and creative merchandise you may actually want to buy (and keep)

Millions of people around the world had their hearts and imaginations captivated by the sheer scale and exuberance of the Royal Wedding. When an actress quits Hollywood to marry a prince, surely this is truly the stuff fairy tales are made of?

Naturally, there are a lot of businesses that have tried to tap into what is shaping up to be the wedding of the year. Merchandise galore fuels the spending spree: but despite the multitude of memorabilia available to fans worldwide, it can be incredibly hard to find original and quirky merchandise to commemorate the occasion. You know, something you might actually want to buy.

With Prince Harry and Meghan-mania in full swing, we've asked three businesses that scaled up through our Innovating for Growth programme to share what they have done to mark the Royal Wedding. And how they got the inspiration for their incredibly creative alternative souvenir ranges: from quirky socks to collectibles raising funds for The Windsor Homeless Project.

 

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So Over It Commemorative Plate by Modern Chintz, available at We built This City

 

Alice, founder of revolutionary souvenir shop We Built This City championing creativity in London's Carnaby Street: As soon as the engagement was announced, we spotted a fantastic opportunity to position We Built This City as the home of alternative Royal Wedding souvenirs with every purchase also supporting London's creatives. 

Alice on rickshaw

Our unique collection has been curated with both tourists and Londoners in mind, especially those throwing a party this weekend and who have a sense of humour around all the media madness! 

For those a little overwhelmed by the hype, we're selling commemorative plates 'mistakenly' featuring Meghan marrying Ed Sheeran, Lydia Leith's now famous Sick Bags and 'No Bank Holiday' Notes.

 

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Royal Wedding Sick Bag by Lydia Leith, available at We built This City

Alongside the more humorous pieces, our artists have created a really fresh and contemporary set of souvenirs that celebrate the youthful and fun nature of Harry and Meghan. And for our customers throwing parties on the day of the wedding, we're offering Royal Wedding themed biscuits, chocolate, tea, Royal Bingo and of course a Queen's Head Jelly Mould!

 

 

To celebrate in-store, we've also commissioned an artist duo Crispin Finn to create a Royal Wedding themed storefront. Their installation is called 'Together Forever' and is a nod to the royal nuptials as well as to the strength of our creative community. This has been a great PR driver for us and has been captured by the 15 international TV crews who've come to interview us since we launched the collection. 

Alice also stocks other fellow Innovating for Growth businesses' souvenirs in her Carnaby Street shop: Chattyfeet's quirky royal sock range and Victoria Eggs' beautiful British designs.

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ChattyFeet's Kate Middle-Toe in front of Victoria Eggs' Royal Wedding Canvas Bag

 

 

Gil, co-founder of funky and fun ChattyFeet socks guaranteed to put a smile on your face: Here at ChattyFeet, we’re really excited about the royal wedding and decided to go on a special sock tour around London! Kate Middle-Toe and the Sock Queen were discussing whether wearing ChattyFeet to the wedding will be allowed. We certainly hope that people won’t have to sacrifice their creativity for the sake of royal etiquette…

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A royal cuppa with the Sock Queen and Kate Middle-Toe

Many people got in touch with us via email, Instagram and Twitter asking whether Meghan socks are coming next. We’re considering this very seriously and created a long list of pros and cons that we’re still debating as we speak…

 

 

Victoria, founder of Victoria Eggs playful homeware and gifts inspired by a love of all things British: We are very excited to have launched a range of commemorative gifts to celebrate the Royal Wedding, all of which are proudly made in Britain.

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Victoria wearing the Royal Wedding Apron

The design features beautifully illustrated rose garlands, wedding bells and Windsor Castle, along with the names of the happy couple, date and location. The collection of gifts includes a mug, tea towel, apron and canvas bag, all attractively packaged to create perfect Royal Wedding souvenirs.

When starting the design I wanted to create something that that was traditional with a modern twist: I began by drawing Windsor castle, a Queen’s Guard and Union Jack, and included roses which are the national flower of England. The finishing touch was placing four church bells ringing out over the celebration of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding below! 

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More of Victoria Eggs' Royal Wedding range available at Harrods

If you're in London, take a trip down to Harrods where you can find Victoria's beautiful souvenirs. If not, check out the online shop guaranteed to brighten up your day with a great selection of elegant yet fun British-made home wares.

 

Are you an ambitious business owner looking to scale up like Alice, Gil or Victoria? If so, Innovating for Growth is a free three-month programme to help you turn your growth idea into a reality. Find out more and apply now!

ERDF

 

Ewa Domaradzka, Commercial Marketing Manager