Your Back Story
Who are Threadster and where did the idea to build a business around bow tie sales come from?
In 2012, Andy Evans was seriously ill and undergoing treatment for Stage 4 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma when he had a chance meeting with Lianne Hill, who had been running her own textile products business for many years, mainly focusing on Bow Ties & personalised Christmas Stockings. Andy believed that the bow tie sales could be sold more effectively via a brand new website with the aim of using social media and targeted SEO to drive sales. As new business partners, they launched Threadster’s first label, Mrs Bow Tie, in October 2012. Since then, the company has grown to employing over 20 local people; moved into larger premises three times and is currently manufacturing and selling thousands of bow ties to over 190 countries worldwide.
Your Box Buying Experience Before Finding Stitchedboxes
Andy’s background has always involved branding and a vintage look was envisaged for the style of box, with a Kraft paper finish chosen. Presentation is important and our customers often take photographs of their bow tie in the gift box and comment on the packaging. We initially used a company that offered Kraft boxes from stock that were made using recycled paper. They were not able to customise the boxes with our logo so we purchased labels to stick to the boxes which was time consuming and the finish was not ideal. However, the biggest problem was reliability. Orders were placed by us with the promise of specific delivery dates that very rarely actually happened and we always had to make numerous telephone calls chasing deliveries and we were not kept informed of progress. Points of frustration you faced before you started to use Stitchedboxes. How have we specifically addressed those problems?
Another big problem for us was that as the supplier did not manufacture the boxes, we were restricted to the sizes they had on offer and tried to adapt our products to fit.
What was the big a-ha moment when you found us and decided to work with us?
Andy and I spent many hours trawling the internet looking for box manufacturers until finally he stumbled across Stitchedboxes and I still remember the time I made the initial telephone call to enquire about the services offered. It was a eureka moment as someone was telling me that the customisable boxes could be made for us to our specific sizes, quickly and at a reasonable cost. Samples were despatched to us very quickly and our first pallet of boxes (which seemed huge at the time) delivered promptly to our deadline.
What alternatives did you try before you started using Stitchedboxes? What were the results?
We tried many alternatives during the search for our ‘perfect box’ but it became apparent that most suppliers source their products from China, although they ‘imply’ that they are made in the UK with long lead times and this was unsuitable for an initially small business to be able to pay for and stock vast quantities of boxes, particularly when offering numerous items requiring different sizes – totally impractical and not cost effective to have funds tied up in so much stock.
Your Experience So Far Using Stitchedboxes
Andy and I both feel that we have a strong bond with Stitchedboxes, particularly our two points of contact – Rob Andrews and Kate Syrat. We were welcomed to the factory in Sheffield when we asked if we could visit in January 2014 and they also visited our studio earlier this year. Both visits gave a greater understanding of our needs and was really useful. Email and telephone contact has always been very good and we have always received a high level of customer service from the company as a whole.
What are the features you love about our product or service?
I could make a much longer list but main features are quality, the fact that the product is made from recycled materials in the UK, quick turnaround from when the initial order is placed to delivery and general customer service levels.
What specific problems we addressed that other business of your size might be able to relate to?
The ability to have samples made quickly and have mixed sizes delivered to us on a pallet. As we have continued to grow our business and order larger quantities on a regular basis, Stitchedboxes now keep the more popular sizes partially made up for a faster turnaround which is really helpful in assisting with storage and cash-flow.
Did you experience any direct “big win” business results for your company?
Not as such but we do get trade orders on a regular basis and our customers think the packaging is unique and like the fact that it is made in the UK. It is reassuring to know that when a large trade order is received we can then order the exact amount of boxes required and be confident that they will be delivered to us on time so we do not lose trade customers with missed deadlines.
Would you recommend us to other businesses?
Without hesitation. Our experience in dealing with Stitchedboxes has always been positive and we look forward to growing our business alongside theirs. We have already recommended them to other trade contacts and will continue to do so in the future.
What is the single biggest reason you would recommend/why you like working with us?
What are you most proud of and what is the next chapter in the story?
We are proud to be making products in the UK, being able to offer employment locally and growing really quickly but sustainably in the relatively short period since inception. The next chapter is building our new brand and website – www.thechristmasstockingcompany.com and developing new products. We have recently moved into much larger premises which should accommodate our growth over the next 5 years and hopefully longer. No new moves planned!