Tiffany Rose is a UK fashion label with a simple aim: to offer pregnant women the ability to wear exciting, elegant, beautiful and well-made designs for special occasions. In just ten years, starting from her kitchen table, business founder and owner Tiffany London has turned Tiffany Rose into a multi-million pound operation.
Tiffany’s success shows the value of building your business around a high-quality niche market. With every garment in the Tiffany Rose collection designed and manufactured in Britain, it’s also a British manufacturing success story. The company recently won a Queen’s Award for Enterprise in 2013 in recognition of its fast-expanding international sales. Tiffany Rose serves customers in over 80 countries from its offices and studio in Surbiton, Surrey, where it now employs 18 people.
Working around the kids
“I always loved the idea of one day having my own business,” says Tiffany, “and it was when my pregnant sister couldn’t find a fabulous dress for a wedding, that I then thought about maternity occasion wear.
It seemed like a bit of a pipe dream then, especially when I started it from the kitchen table (literally!) with less than £1,000 start-up capital. I didn’t dare dream it would one day grow to the size it is now – thank goodness for the internet which offers an incredibly efficient route to market.”
As the mother of young children, Tiffany had to find her work-time where she could:
“When the kids napped during the day this was my golden opportunity to make phone calls etc. But I became very used to getting a day’s work done between 7pm and midnight. It wasn’t great for the social life, but I was very lucky to have an incredibly supportive husband, who worked with me in the evenings, helping the business to grow – so it stayed fun.
“It’s a lot easier now that the kids are at school and we have slowly built a brilliant team, which means we can juggle work around school plays, swimming galas and homework!”
Tiffany says her values are ‘to be open, honest and to always remain humble’. “Our team are very hardworking and supportive – and we couldn’t have come this far without their support and belief in us. Everyone here has a genuine desire to make this company a success and to offer an amazing product and service to our customers. We really encourage self-development and we try to create an environment where the team can thrive, feel valued and have mutual respect for one another.”
Tiffany had a vision of how the business should work. Sometimes it meant not taking the easy path: “The toughest challenge has been manufacturing in Britain. It has taken us a very long time to find quality manufacturers in this country who have been able to increase their volumes in response to our demands.
“At one point we were struggling so much to keep lines in stock that we helped one of our designers to create her own manufacturing business.” She now employs a growing team of highly trained seamstresses and offers Tiffany Rose an exclusive service.
Others – including the Queen’s Award – have pointed to Tiffany Rose as an outstanding success. From Tiffany London’s point of view, it’s more a case of so far so good:
“I’m not sure we’ll ever feel we’re there! Tiffany Rose has grown from an idea into a multi-million pound business, without needing external funding. But there is still a very long way to go and we will never take success for granted. The market is always changing and so we must adapt with it.
Tiffany Rose’s future plans are to keep doing what they do, but to find new ways to continually improve.
“We have a growing international customer base and so we want to expand this further, especially into the USA and Australia,” says Tiffany.
“We were really thrilled to have won a Queen’s Award for Enterprise this year, in recognition of our outstanding growth in international sales. Given our commitment to quality manufacturing in Britain, it is a huge honour for us to receive this award from Her Majesty the Queen.”
You can see the full collection at Tiffany Rose Special Occasion Maternity Wear.
Tiffany’s Top Three Learning Points
Keep listening and communicating within your team and encourage them to do the same. It’s amazing the knowledge your team has, so encourage them to share. This way you keep your ears to the ground and can make the right decisions as the business grows.
Stay on top of the figures at all times. Your overall Profit & Loss and Cashflow forecasts are crucial (Cash is King after all!) but just as important is monitoring performance inside the business (eg. individual product sales and stock control) so that if there are any trends you can see the signs early enough to make adjustments.
Plan well to ease the burden of any last minute disasters. Good internal systems, structure and policies means more time creating!
About Erika Watson
Hi, I am the founder and editor of Prowess, so the person to get in touch with if you have any ideas, queries or feedback: erika [a] prowess.org.uk. I run my own business too: Greenwell Consulting a communications company focusing on Enterprise, Environment & Equality. See here for details of our Start-up and Business Development workshops.