Community spirit is at the heart of this business, with thousands of followers on Instagram Tikiboo is the latest female fitness brand to make an impression on UK consumers.
Co-founders Faye and Daniel Jobbins began building their business from their living room but have since had to reach out for extra space and more pairs of hands to handle the influx of orders.
Business Advice caught up with Tikiboo to find out how they managed to beat off top competition at the Running Awards 2018 in April.
Who are you and what is your business?
We’re Faye and Daniel Jobbins, and we are the founders of activewear brand Tikiboo. Tikiboo is an award-winning, fitness wear brand that celebrates being active with colourful and unique fitness clothing, that also offers unwavering performance.
How did you come up with the concept?
Faye: We founded Tikiboo in May 2014, when I was frustrated with the lack of fun and exciting gym wear on offer in the UK. I’m both a certified PT and CrossFit gym coach so my daily wardrobe is made up of predominately gym wear, but I could never understand why it only seemed to be black and pink colourings used in women’s fitness clothing.
I started importing bright printed clothing from South America and Australia, and soon my clients and the ladies in my group exercise classes were asking me to order on their behalf too. Soon I was ordering clothing for over twenty ladies and the import costs were getting really high.
Daniel: We had always wanted to work on a project together anyway, and this seemed the best path for us as there was an apparent gap in the market. We combined my background and expertise in website design, programming and creative design, with Faye’s sales and marketing background and passion for fitness. Tikiboo was then launched in February 2015.
What was key in terms of getting started?
Faye: It was a lot of work at first. We invested £500 each into the first batch of stock, and used our living room as a base. Together we designed prints and found manufacturers to bring these designs to life, packed orders, built relationships with suppliers and began building a community of fans on social media. Daniel was in charge of creating the website and designing a logo, and we did the photography ourselves with Daniel using me as a model.
Daniel: Everything was being done in-house – all the photography, postage, SEO, marketing campaigns, social media, SEO, and customer service. There were some weeks where three hours sleep a night became normal! However Tikiboo really took off straight away, and we were blown away by the continuous orders coming in on a daily basis. After eighteen months, we had to outsource the packing of orders to a warehouse so that we could continue to focus on driving the business forward.
What makes the business unique?
Our clothing is bright, loud and fun, and allows people to stand out from the crowd while wearing something that can become an instant talking point to those around them. We often hear stories of people that have become friends through their love of Tikiboo as they recognise others wearing our products at events and start talking to new people.
This is what makes it so special for us: Tikiboo is no longer about us or the leggings, it’s about the community spirit and bringing like-minded, passionate people together (all with a love of fitness and bright, fun clothing).
Charity is also extremely important to us and it is something we never want to lose touch with. We support Children with Cancer UK, the leading national charity dedicated to the fight against childhood cancer, which is a charity that is very close to our hearts. We managed to secure an exclusive license deal to produce Mr. Men Little Miss branded clothing (great excuse for a quirky and fun collection), and with every purchase from the range, a £1 donation will be given to the Children with Cancer charity. As of September 2017, over £5000 has been raised and given directly to the charity.
What were some of the biggest challenges you faced when launching?
We assume that it must be the same for any startup company, but the biggest challenge is always going to be competing against bigger, more well-known brands. Luckily for us, we had a loyal community of fans from day one, which has continued to grow and grow.
What’s your biggest achievement to date?
We’re now an award-winning brand which is incredible. At the recent Running Awards 2018 [April], Tikiboo took home the top accolade after being named Best Female Clothing Company in the annual awards voted for solely by the running community. We beat out the likes of Nike who came second, and Ronhill who placed third, and words ca
nnot express how amazed and grateful we felt seeing our hard work recognised. The same night, we wer
e also awarded ‘Bronze’ for our sports bras, in the Best Sports Bra category.
Another key business achievement for us has been the brokering of an exclusive brand licensing deal of globally established brands Mr. Men Little Miss, Hello Kitty, Candy Crush, Smiley and Sesame Street, enabling Tikiboo to create exclusive ranges using characters and symbols known worldwide.
Describe your marketing technique – what strategies have you used?
Social Media has always been a great tool for us, as that gave us a platform to raise brand awareness and to build a community of fans who were engaging with us.
We’re also recognised the value of PR and building good relationships with journalists so we often gift samples and provide them with the news on our latest products.
From this month (June), we’re also going to be trying our hand at TV advertising for the first time and there will be a Tikiboo TV advertising campaign launched on both ITVBe and Channel E! channels to help target a wider female audience. This will be further supplemented by PR campaigns and event presence at both trade and consumer shows.
In five years’ time, we will be…
Everywhere! Our ultimate goal is to be a household name within the UK and to be recognised on a global scale. Ideally by that point we will also be selling fitness clothing for men/boys, gender neutral products and catering for all sports, all abilities, in all shapes and sizes.
Who are your business heroes and why?
Daniel: My business heroes over the past decade are John Athwal OBE and his son, Jason Athwal, from Premier Decorations. Myself and Faye are both good friends with Jason Athwal, and we were hugely inspired by the extraordinary story of his father’s humble beginnings and how he managed turn small ideas into a massive business success. Jason Athwal was also one of the few that encouraged us with positive words when told him we had started a business together ourselves (had we of not known Jason or learnt about John’s success, I’m not sure if we’d have had the confidence to even consider building a clothing brand ourselves).
Nothing is more inspiring to me than a local success story built from the ground up!
Other notable business heroes (the more obvious ones at least) are people like Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffett and Jack Ma (purely for the sheer scale of their success).
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
- Build your business at a sensible and manageable pace as there are constantly new things to learn and endless hurdles to overcome (growing big too quickly and peaking too soon before you’re prepared won’t end well)
- Ideally, ensure that there is a demand for your style of product and/or service (following a dream with a niche idea is great but if there’s not much demand for that product/service then your business will struggle financially).
- Be prepared for many sleepless nights and try to learn as many aspects of the business as possible along the way, it will help when outsourcing.
- Be positive and believe in your product or service. If you don’t believe in your business/brand with 100% conviction, how can you convince others to buy into your product/service?
- Don’t listen to negativity from friends and/or family when they’re thinking you’re mad and taking a big risk. Just stay positive and work harder to prove them wrong, they will change their opinion eventually.
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