12 Sep Latest Start-Up Series winners: introducing Bedfolk
Nick and Jo James, founders of luxury, ethical bedding company Bedfolk, are investing in their product range as they look to become the UK’s leading bedding brand.
Founders: Nick and Jo James
Description: High quality, ethical bedding
Can you tell me a bit about your business background?
Jo and I have been working together for many years in one form or another. We’ve sourced mid-century furniture from antique fairs and sold it online, renovated properties, and more recently – just before launching Bedfolk – worked together at a luxury furniture business. We’ve always enjoyed working together and had a passion for interiors, so starting our own business in the homeware space was in some ways a natural progression.
Where did the idea for the business come from? Was there a moment or experience that made you feel a need for it?
Bedfolk was primarily born out of our own frustrated experience as shoppers. We’ve spent the last five or six years moving between and furnishing flats and houses, and bought a fair bit of bedding along the way. Compared to most other products we sourced, buying bedding was always a confusing, uninspiring and expensive shopping experience.
Considering how much time we spend in bed it seems crazy how difficult it is to confidently buy good bedding, and so we figured that there was a gap in the market for a brand that helped to simplify the shopping experience and offer premium quality bedding at a reasonable price.
What is the business’ USP?
The simplicity of our shopping experience, and the value for money that we offer.
Most department stores and traditional bedding brands offer tens or hundreds of choices when it comes to bedding. Most bed sheets look the same on the shelf and so it’s very hard to differentiate between them in – the choice can be paralysing and certainly doesn’t instil confidence with consumers.
At Bedfolk we only offer three styles of bedding – Relaxed, Classic, and Luxe. They’re all the same price, made from the same high quality long-staple cotton, and are woven responsibly in the world’s leading mills, with the difference between them being in the way they look and feel – which is ultimately what’s important to customers.
“This streamlined product offering also means we have less money tied up in stock or spent on storage which, combined with our direct-to-consumer business model, means we sell our bedding at a fraction of the cost of traditional retailers.
Why did you enter the Start-Up Series competition?
We liked the fact that this was ‘smart money’. As well as the investment that comes with winning the competition, we’ve gained a director with real life business experience who gives us a great deal of insight and strategic input.
How did you find the application process?
Straightforward. As with any investment application there’s a fair bit of information to provide, but it all made sense and was simple to submit. After the initial application the next step was the deep dive in London which meant the application process wasn’t at all drawn out.
How did you find the ‘deep dive’ with Worth Capital?
We really enjoyed it. It was informal and very much a two-way conversation, which was a big contrast to some of the other fundraising conversations we’d had.
Regardless of whether we’d got the investment from Worth Capital, we got lots of valuable insight and constructive feedback on what we were doing.
How do you feel about winning the competition?
Ecstatic! We’re so excited to have the funding in place to start implementing our business plan, as well as all of the expert external input that comes with a Worth Capital investment.
A lot of businesses entered – what do you think made your business stand out and win?
The simplicity of our proposition and how it was in stark contrast to the way the bedding market currently operates. And the fact that we had some initial traction in the form of sales, press coverage, and customer reviews to prove that the brand and product was resonating with our target audience.
What stage is the business at currently?
We launched in May 2018, so we’re a little over a year old. It all started with Jo and I packing orders in our dining room cum storage unit, but our sales are growing quickly and so we are now building our team and behind-the-scenes infrastructure to keep pace with, and get ahead of, demand.
What do you plan to use the Start-Up Series investment for?
We’ll be using this investment to fill out our product range, refine the Bedfolk brand and customer experience, and to build on our current marketing activity.
Finally, what’s your ultimate vision for the business?
Our vision is to become the UK’s leading bedding & comfortable home essentials brand by designing a curated range of premium quality products, that are responsibly made in the world’s best mills and sold at an honest and accessible price.