On the look out for new business investments and or collaborations, currently founder of Darzi Clothing (est 2008), overseas sales director for Flexi Pump (www.flexipump.com) and recently invested in stretch tent productions (flexible fabric tent substitute for marques from South Africa). I always interested to talk and try and add value to any business or individual that my be interested.
Teddy Watt Founder of Darzi Clothing, Store it all Ltd and over seas director for Flexi Pump talks about his escape and the 5 years since he made the move, the success and failures and the adventures it has taken him on.
My strengths are in sales strategy and customer communication. I can also help with funding if an exciting project or person come my way.
My time is currently split between two primary business' with a number of other projects that I have involved myself in.
Darzi was founded in 2008/9. We produce Heritage British jackets for country and town. Attempting to bring the edge in to country clothing. We use Indian styles mixed with traditional tweeds, spiced up. Bright red and purple herringbone's for instance. Our core customers are still the rural and country pursuits sector however younger clientèle mix Darzi's with urban style and we have seen them warn around Hoxton and festival around the globe. We concentrate mostly on wholesale now as demand and the following has grown. We still have an on line shop which we sell limited stock through at www.darziclothing.com
The other way I spend my time currently is as over seas director for Flexi Pump. Flexi is a irrigation hand pump aimed at small holding farmers in developing nations. It one an number of awards including and Aid EU award and a James Dyson Award. I work with David Hitton the MD of Hutton technologies that developed the pump. To date we have distribution and manufacture in 8 African countries and are on our way to India to replicate the success.
Other than this I have a small property portfolio and am constantly on the look out for new opportunities. Investment in to a flexible marque business is currently on the horizon.
My brother and I also set up in late 2009 Store it all Ltd. We handled 3rd party distribution of on-line retailers goods. We grew the business to over 45 customers including Birds Eye the Frozen food giant and sold it on October 2012.
When I left Newcastle University I worked as a management consultant in catering. I then moved on to sales for a small drink based marketing firm as a sales manager. I literally spent my days driving round to pubs trying to sell them the latest offer on Bullmers or Fosters and an array of other drinks.
This taught me a lot about the hard sell and cold calling which has been invaluable to everything I have done since. If you don’t ask and you don’t try, you will never get a result. By the time I had left three years later I was running a team of 5 sales and marketing guys launching a new soft drink based in London but I needed to escape. There was a definite ceiling to my earning potential and more so my learning potential and began growing morose.
I had dreamt of being my own man, running my own life and my own time, for as long as I can remember.
My moment of truth came on a very cramped bus on the way to Kathmandu in Nepal which sounds tragic I know. Wearing my very fetching fleece lined cashmere take on a India Shepard jacket I had recently had made for me I realised that I may very well be able to sell these to the country market. Being a country boy myself I was well aware of the market and money spent on rural pursuits paraphernalia and I was also aware that there was very little out there for me who wanted something with a bit more edge and originality.
I had been telling everyone and anyone in the UK that I was going to be own boss for years. There came a point on the bus where I realised I had to step up and take the plunge.
On my touchdown in the UK a month later I immediately told my family my intentions and started a week later and have never looked back.
I was aware that I could sell at a grass-roots level and country and Christmas fairs and that a close friend of mine was making a decent living from this.
I knew where the best place to manufacture my goods in India would be and had done research when I was out there. I also had some money that I had saved from work and was fortunate enough to have a grandfather that had left me a sum that would cover my start up costs.
My first port of call was design and then another trip to India for reckon and initial production.
In honesty I was very under-prepared and my learning curve was and still is HUGE.
I had many problems with materials and production first time round; the lead times took to long and I was trying (probably stupidly) to make an autumn/winter range for men and woman with no design experience, production experience or import experience, happen within 3 months so it would be ready for a Christmas 2009. Everything arrived way too late and I missed a lot of opportunities, however I made enough to keep going but I was very confused and demotivated at times. In the end, if I had not been through that experience I would never have been in the position I am now with the opportunities that have arisen from it.
Best things: The reception to my products. The new doors that have opened to start a new business that will benefit my family. Waking up in the morning with more work than I could possibly ever have imagined having and still smiling because I know it’s for me and I know I’ll learn a whole lot more by the end of the day. This was a real attraction for me. I felt I wasn't learning anything in my previous jobs after a certain point.
Doing what I do provides me constant challenges and sometimes they get a bit too much, but I am very lucky to have good friends and solid family.
Never think the business money is your money. It is not a personal spending pot; when your receive funding or make a good deal in a month, remember that money has to go back in the the business or already belongs to the business. When you run the figures and you know exactly how much it will cost you at the steep end, add a quarter. You can never be to optimistic when it comes to forecasting.
The best way to learn about an industry and your market is to tackle it from the bottom up. Don't be afraid to get your hands dirty.
Make sure you have an original idea and that you know your brand. I remember being asked early on to explain the Darzi concept: 10 minutes later I still hadn't managed it and I realised my brand identity had not been established and that is everything.
When you are planning your business forget revenue, concentrate on your costs. You need to have a full picture of what you are up against so you can tackle it with no surprises.