TeddyOne is a nursery and children’s furniture company based in Hertfordshire built on over 30 year’s experience designing high-end furniture. Founder, Niall Gilfillian believes his business is one of a kind; the only baby furniture company in the world which designs and manufactures every product here in the UK.
When the Covid-19 pandemic began to impact TeddyOne’s customer base, enquiries dried up and sales fell. Despite these challenges, Niall took the decision to launch his newest collection: The Contemporary Nursery Collection and sought external finance of £40,000 from AskIf.
This brave decision at a time of great uncertainty has resulted in growth and expansion, when other retailers have struggled.
Niall encourages other small businesses to be brave and to use any downtime to review what they are doing and “to look up instead of looking down at their feet”. He says “If you look up you can see where you’re going”.
Joanna Hill, Commercial Director, AskIf, commented: “It has been a pleasure dealing with TeddyOne, the way their business runs, their product – it’s incredibly impressive. To know AskIf was able to help this business step into a new period of growth is fantastic.
“We share in Niall’s sentiment that there is more to be done to grant access to funding for SMEs that so badly need it and are so deserving of it. The headlines may be bad this year but there is a huge amount of hard work going on across the country, this case study is testament to the ambition and tenacity of UK SMEs and it is why we do what we do!”
TeddyOne’s founder, Niall Gilfillian, prides himself on his business being one of a kind; the only baby furniture company in the world which designs and manufactures every product in the UK. Operating a lean structure, Niall partners with a range of highly experienced contractors and suppliers.
Describing TeddyOne’s reason for being, Niall commented: “I’m a father of four children and I know that setting up a nursery is a wondrous part of becoming a parent. Our customers tell us they see the creation of a nursery as ten times more important than their wedding.
“TeddyOne grew from an idea drawn up on the back of a cigarette packet. When I saw what was on offer for parents looking to set up a nursery I found that it wasn’t good. As a furniture maker, I wanted to build my own designs and do something different that would deliver value for money with all products manufactured in the UK. We are able to compete with premium products because we own the whole process and supply chain. We can proudly say everything is now handmade in the UK.”
Speaking on the impact of Covid-19, Niall said: “It’s affected us both ways. Negatively, there’s been so much out there in the press distracting my customers. Positively, whilst all that was going on it was my opportunity to bring together the contemporary nursery collection which we launched in three months flat.
“We use social media and digital marketing campaigns utilising Facebook, Instagram and Google. We’ve done very well due to this approach in terms of reach and expansion, the phone’s ringing all day with new customer enquiries.
To get the collective developed and launched in record time, TeddyOne sought help from AskIf, with a £40,000 loan under the CBILS scheme. Niall commented on the process: “The application process with AskIf was very straightforward. I have to say that the team at AskIf were highly proactive and supportive of my cause and didn’t do anything to put up obstacles. More than helpful.
“In comparison to how other platform lenders operate they were worlds apart. They were at my disposal from start to finish, it was a very intimate experience which is something sorely in today’s market. It was reminiscent of the old days of having a personal bank manager.”
Giving advice to other businesses who may be struggling due to Covid-19, Niall said: “There’s a common point across all businesses where they need to bring in external finance. They’re all in the same boat and will need external finance at one point or another.
“The small business owner can find this incredibly overwhelming. The hardest thing to do is look up instead of looking down at your feet. If you look up you can see where you’re going. If you go out in a rally car and the driver takes you round at break-neck speed. Then you get a chance behind the wheel and you feel like you’re driving round like a grandmother, you’re cautious and fearful. One of things that will make you go faster is looking beyond the end of the bonnet, look where you need to go and you’ll get through the bends faster. You’ll be on the gas pedal more. Have the courage to look up beyond the big businesses who are falling and the brokers which put up blockers.
“I believe AskIf’s could help many more SMEs who are seeking finance. They provide a much needed alternative to algorithm driven lenders who often often reject valid businesses, resulting in many businesses that deserve the money being starved of it.”
Continuing to grow, TeddyOne will be launching their children’s collection in September 2020 off the back of their success this year.