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Young entrepreneur from Tees Valley celebrates £53,000 turnover

ByCharley Williams

Jan 14, 2017

A flourishing clothing start-up has enjoyed a Christmas sales boost following a successful first year in business.

Bread & Butter Threads, which is based in South Tees Business Centre, saw more than 1,000 orders flood in during the run-up to Christmas, which further bolstered the company’s position after seeing a £53,000 turnover in its first 11 months.

Set up by young Teesside designer Kim Sandford, from Guisborough, the online store sells custom-made clothing including slogan T-shirts, hoodies and accessories.

The business-minded 26-year-old has grand plans to build on her early successes throughout 2017 with the hope of employing “like-minded” creatives to help the business grow later in the year.

She said: “The business is going really well. After selling just a few items a week when I first set up, I now have a fully stocked warehouse in South Tees Business Centre. The Christmas period was extremely busy and I sold 1,000 items in that time. It’s sometimes been a struggle but I’ve loved every minute of it. A turnover of £53k in my first year is definitely a cause for celebration.”

Kim graduated with a degree in Graphic Design from Leeds College of Art in 2012 and went on to cut her cloth in the creative sector in a number of roles as a graphic designer for Rabbit Hole, and then later on at FCT Online, both based in Leeds. 

However, the desire to return to her hometown and run her own business served as the inspiration she needed to take the leap and set up Bread & Butter Threads towards the end of 2015 and she began trading in February last year.

Kim said: “I had worked within the graphic design industry since leaving university in Leeds, working on a variety of projects from branding and web design to large-scale wall art and clothing, and I continue to use all of these skills today within my own business.

“I have always wanted to be my own boss but I knew I needed to gain as much experience as possible within the industry when I left university. Last year felt like the right time to put everything I have learnt into practice and make the move to setting up my own business.”

Armed with her last pay packet and a solid business plan, Kim moved back to her beloved Tees Valley and set up the bespoke online clothing store from her home. But after a modest start which saw her receiving around 70 orders in the first month, the business has continued to grow thanks to the quality and pricing of the products.

Kim has now moved her operation to the South Tees Business Centre to accommodate an increased demand for her products – much of which comes from repeat customers, mainly in Italy.

“There’s a strong sense of community at the centre and I have worked with several businesses based here to equip them with work wear. It is a really nice environment where everyone gets along and helps promote each other in any way we can,” she said.

Kim was adamant that when she set up her first business it would be in her hometown so she could contribute to local economy and get involved with the thriving business community in Tees Valley.

She said: “Whilst in Leeds I worked on a project called ‘Independent Leeds’ which showcased all the independent businesses in the city. This made me think about the different independent businesses we have here, and how I could be an addition to that community. Tees Valley really is a great place to live and work.”

Kim has backed the Live Work Play in Tees Valley campaign – a close collaboration between Tees Valley Combined Authority, and the five local authorities – which aims to promote the Tees Valley area as a great place to do business.

Dave Budd, Mayor of Middlesbrough and Chair of Tees Valley Combined Authority, said: “Live Work Play in Tees Valley highlights what the area offers companies already based here and those considering starting up, expanding or relocating to the area. Kim is proof that there is a wealth of opportunity and support available to ambitious start-ups in Tees Valley.

“I’d urge any other aspiring businesses to find out more about Tees Valley and the range of benefits on offer to firms that chose the area as their base. This ranges from affordable premises, excellent transport links and a vibrant business community which supports and encourages innovation and growth.”

Kim added: “I fully support the aims behind Live Work Play in Tees Valley and I hope it helps open other creative business owners’ eyes to the opportunities available to those based in Tees Valley.

“Bread & Butter Threads has enjoyed rapid growth in just a year – better than I expected, especially since moving into South Tees Business Centre. I’m looking forward to employing like-minded creatives in the near future and watching the business grow.”

For more information on Bread & Butter Threads, visit: www.breadandbutterthreads.co.uk

More information about Live Work Play in Tees Valley can be found at www.tvliveworkplay.co.uk or by following @TVLiveWorkPlay on Twitter.

To find out more about moving into the South Tees Business Centre, please call 01642 444100.