Virgin StartUp of the week: Designer Bear Boutique
We love hearing about startups that have been born out of a great story. Lindsey Ahmet’s, Designer Bear Boutique ticks that box. Her handmade patchwork teddy bear company came into being after her son grew out of his newborn clothing and she created a keepsake teddy bear out of the materials. Friends loved it, so she made more, then their friends loved them and Lindsey found herself creating her patchwork bears as a business. Here’s her startup of the week.
We choose one Virgin StartUp company to be featured on Virginstartup.org each week. We ask our startups of the week to deliver the ultimate elevator pitch. What would they say if they had one minute in a lift with Sir Richard Branson?
Ground to floor 1 – Explain what your business does
We manufacture high quality, CE tested/certified patchwork animals and teddies from beautiful, stylish fabric. We personalize all our products and try to accommodate any bespoke requests.
Floor 1 to 2 - Where are you based?
Designer Bear Boutique is currently based in my cozy home in Bolton, Manchester!
Floor 2 to 3 – What’s the business model?
We allow our customers to design their own Patchwork Soft toy. They choose the animal, size, fabric and where it goes and then they can add a personal message and we make it! We constantly update our fabrics, available products and look at new avenues for our business, in line with our customers needs.
Floor 3 to 4 – Who are your competitors?
Our main two competitors are Build-a–Bear workshop and Argos designabear products. Our concept is different to these as we are not your classic teddy bear manufacturer and we do not do clothing for our products. Our products are unique and one of a kind. They come with the certificate to prove their individuality, as we do not make our animals with fabric in the same place, more than once.
Floor 4 to 5 – What’s your USP?
All our products are individually handmade. We also embroider any personal message to make them sentimental and something that can be cherished for many years. We allow our customers to design his or her own so no one else has the same toy in the world. We provide a unique, bespoke service and product that they cannot currently get anywhere else.
Floor 5 to 6 – Where did the idea come from?
I had been knitting for a number of years and during my baby boys changing bag project, I felt the need for a sewing machine to line it. Once that was complete and he grew out of his newborn clothing I decided to make him a keepsake blanket. This then resulted in me toying around with a teddy bear design and then my very first frog! I had a few friends ask me do make them a keepsake and I had a just for fun Facebook page and one follower liked the frog so much she asked if I could make one that was not a keepsake… and the idea was born!
Floor 6 to 7 – How much funding did you receive from Virgin StartUp?
We received a lovely £16,200.
Floor 7 to 8 – How are you going to use it to grow your business?
Our Manchester baby and Toddler show stand in September! (sooo excited!!!).
To enable us to increase our production and lead times we will be purchasing equipment including a better sewing and embroidery machine and a fabric-cutting machine. (Currently doing this with scissors!)
To build the web application we want, that will allow our customers to truly design their own!
Floor 8 to 9 – Who’s your Virgin StartUp Mentor? (Name and business)
Ann Forde-Johnston from promoting-u.co.uk
Floor 9 to 10 – What’s your workspace like? (send us a pic from your phone)
A creative haven in my home! My daughter gets excited when I allow her to use my space for her creativity, which is a wonderful feeling!
We hope to be looking at retail space in some of the top UK locations, retailing in the USA and hopefully we may have some high-end fashion designers fabric in the mix!!