On the up · 26 January 2017

Meet the Teesside clothing startup going above and beyond its competition

Bread and Butter 2
Bread & Butter Threads founder Kim Sandford

For the small team at new Teesside-based clothing startup Bread & Butter Threads, a lucrative Christmas trading period was the icing on the cake of what’s been a very successful first year.

Since early 2016, the clothing startup has seen a turnover of £53,000 by selling custom-made slogan T-shirts, hoodies and accessories online. The young brand saw more than a 1,000 order flooding in during the lead up to Christmas.

Business Advice spoke to 26-year old founder and graphic designer Kim Sandford about her plans to step things up a notch in 2017, and how valuable the right staff have been to her clothing startup success story. 

(1) Who are you and what’s your business?

Bread & Butter Threads is an online personalised clothing startup. We design and print all items in house and also provide work wear for businesses. I am a designer and therefore can create and work with people to design their perfect print for a garment.

(2) How long have you been around for?  

I opened Bread & Butter Threads in August 2015, and started trading in February 2016. So I shall soon have accomplished my first year of trading!

(3) How do you make money?

The brand makes its money by selling clothing designs online. We cater for both unisex adults and children, and are soon to be selling designs for the home.

We’re based in Tees Valley, at the South Tees Business Centre, where there is a strong sense of community. It has allowed me to work with several other businesses, also based here, by designing and printing designs for their work wear. 

(4) What makes you different and why should people take notice?

 Every designer is different, from their ideas through to the design process and visuals. Customers have their own unique style, hobbies, interests and needs and that is what Bread & Butter caters for.

Much of my repeat customers are in Italy. That in itself says a lot about the uniqueness of my brand.

(5) What was key in terms of getting started?

Starting up is all about the individual. How hard you are willing to work, your drive, passion, all these things are needed to successfully achieve your end goal.

Research also plays a huge part in setting up a business you need to be fully aware of every aspect of what is needed in setting up on your own. After your research, it is essential you make a detailed plan.

It should define any opportunities you’ve identified, clearly state your mission, describe your target, establish measurable goals, and set deadlines for each milestone along the way.

(6) What’s your biggest achievement to date?

My biggest achievement to date would definitely be my first Christmas with Bread & Butter Threads. I knew the retail industry is heavily seasonal, however I could not have expected the sales I achieved over this time.

(7) What setbacks have you had along the way? 

There have been many, getting a brand out there is a very tough thing to do! You have a lot of competition in the industry, but competition is never a bad thing. You just have to make sure your brand does above and beyond your competitors.

I had to re-evaluate the goals I had set for myself at the beginning and re-tooled them as necessary. It was all a learning experience, as I realised that goals should be realistic and specific, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be flexible. They definitely allowed for minor impediments.

(8) In five years’ time, I will be…

Designing. I set up this business to be able to spend my days designing, it is what I love doing. I would also love to have a team of designers in here all creating new and exciting prints for our brand.

(9) What one tip would you give to others starting out?

I think starting out in business you need to have several things. You need to be very passionate about what you are doing, have a lot of drive to work long hours, self-belief that you can do this and also still have a willingness to learn. Without the ability to learn as you grow you won’t move forward.

Another tip that I would give is to surround yourself with the right people. It makes such a difference. Having the right mentors really helped me. I surrounded myself with a great support system that is smart, talented, driven and shared my vision.

Even though my business is still a one man band, it is because of these people that Bread and Butter Threading has transformed so much in a year and has accelerated its growth.

Find out how this entrepreneurial duo who won over the fearsome Deborah Meaden

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Fred Heritage was previously deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London.