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The Name: Notonthehighstreet.com (NOTHS)
The Place: Headquartered in Richmond
The Story: Venture capital firms line up to throw money at this business because buying hand made artisan crafts and gifts is so now. And that is exactly what Notonthehighstreet.com does. The stuff is unique, British, often ethically produced, and like all good business ideas was set up because its two founders, Holly Tucker and Sophie Cornish, wanted a shop just like that. Now with 3,000 partners (suppliers) on its books and a fourth round of funding of £10 million recently announced they can kick back and take over the world one gift at a time.
Sophie Cornish and Holly Tucker.
I see. There’s money in presents then: The last round of funding valued NOTHS at a not insignificant £100 million, so yes. But it’s not all packs of 10 cards for a fiver you know. This site takes personalised to a new level – how about a ring made with the impression of your partner’s finger inside it so you can always hold hands.
Bless: Yours for £595. The founders say that personalisation is hugely popular and from Christmas sacks with your kiddies names on at £20 and personalised tax disc, cufflinks, to the iconic bus blind poster where you insert the important destination points of your life on to a routemaster-style font NOTHS has someone who can make it.
Just how many products are there? 50,000. That’s from a start in 2006 of 100 small businesses who incidentally all invested in the business at the outset. Almost all of them are still selling on the site today which bodes well. Nowadays every new supplier pays a one-off joining fee and then 25% commission ever after.
And how much bang for your buck? A dedicated homepage and then all the benefits of a much bigger companies’ marketing support and press coverage, customer back up etcetera. It’s reported they get up to 80 applications a day from interested suppliers but as the founders say they are a ‘curated marketplace’ and are very selective about what goes on.
Are they gift makers themselves? Not at all. They are ‘passionate’ about beautiful products but they get their buzz from watching a little cottage industry becoming rather more than that.
And how often does that happen? Examples are cited of partners taking £1,000 in the first year and £1 million three years later.
Crikey! I’m going to set up a business right now: Well, it’s a growing market - 10% of NOTHS sales now come from the US despite it only recently allowing multi-currency shopping on the site. The latest funding money, its reported, will go towards NOTHS offices opening up in the big overseas markets.
What about NOTHS shops? Nope. Part of the appeal, the founders think, is that people can browse and shop whenever and wherever they want. Besides, they'd probably have to change the name don’t you think?
True. So when I eventually have my amazing product idea can I only sell it on this site? No, suppliers are not locked into exclusive agreements but the marketing activities do ‘tend to focus on products that can’t be found elsewhere’. Interestingly NOTHS has a merchandising department which can help develop a seller’s range to the target market.
Tell me about the founders: Marketing and media in a word. Sophie Cornish, who has said she always knew she would achieve one big thing in her life, started out in women’s magazines and moved on to branding and marketing while working for briefs as varied as George at Asda, Boots No.7 and L’Oreal. Holly Tucker met Sophie Cornish when they both worked in an advertising agency and then Tucker started something called Your Local Fair which took the sort of companies selling on their site now to posh bits of London. But it was lots of graft and so the two of them decided there must be a 21st century solution to this. And there was.
The rest is history? The rest is actually in a book that they have just written called Build A Business From Your Kitchen Table. And we have five copies of it to give to readers who are interested (see below). With this as inspiration I had an amazing product idea - a stool that looks like a champagne cork. Unfortunately, it's already on there. Yours for £110.
Retailinsider.com has five copies to give-away of the recently published book by Sophie Cornish and Holly Tucker - 'Build a Business from your Kitchen Table'. If you would like a copy then please email firstname.lastname@example.org and subscribe to Retailinsider.com (it's free). The first five people to respond will receive a copy.
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