5 Successful Essex Startup Businesses
Even throughout the coronavirus lockdowns, new businesses have continued to spring up to provide new services or products. Despite the ever present challenges for independent businesses and the decline of high street retail in town centres, these Essex based businesses have tackled the challenges head on to enjoy success.
BabyChum is an online marketplace, much like eBay or Etsy, but specifically intended for parents and children. The business was founded by friends Laura McBride from Loughton, and Laura Boswell from Billericay, in April 2020. The pair aimed to fill a gap in the market for baby products due to the closure of physical store giants such as Mothercare. The products sold include personalised baby gifts, furniture, confectionary and gifts for parents. The pair placed emphasis on helping small businesses sell on their marketplace by offering no listing fees, just a flat rate commission. Compared to other marketplaces, BabyChum does not charge for social media marketing, making for a big draw to potential sellers. These factors have helped build up a transparent, trustworthy, affordable and reliable brand identity.
Despite being only a year old, the brand has gone on to collaborate with Ferne McCann and will even begin supplying for department store, Harrods. In terms of imagery, BabyChum is keen on having crisp, modern and minimalistic photography. This has resulted in a growing following on visual social media channels such as Instagram. It is clear that the brand has found success since its launch, but what BabyChum has done well is established a key audience and what their values are to make themselves stand out from competitors. Laura McBride also fits into the target audience as she is a mother herself. This meant that she had background knowledge of what parents are looking for and where there is a gap to fill.
Overall, this produces a brand image of a family oriented, stylish and like-minded marketplace.
Three Sisters Farm
Launched by interior design hobbyist sisters Philippa and Jessica, Three Sisters Farm sells dried flowers and pampas grass. Upon researching, the sisters found a gap in the market for sustainable alternatives to flower arrangements and homeware, so Three Sisters Farm was envisioned. With the rise in consumers opting to purchase from small businesses as opposed to corporate chains, the sisters confidently launched their brand.
What Three Sisters Farm worked well on is establishing their unique selling point (USP), what do they offer that’s different? The key drive for the business was the family centered nature of the brand. This evolved into personalisation within the products themselves, such as handwritten cards with purchases. The sense of community spirit and family extends further, with Three Sisters Farm donating to charities and communities including Women's Aid.
As for the branding, the business opts for a traditional image with an earthy and muted colour scheme. This reflects the style Three Sisters Farm has carried over to their popular social platforms such as Instagram. Their channels particularly feature soft photogenic arrangements, whilst keeping the imagery creative and varied.
Overall, Three Sisters Farm encapsulates the family identity and carries it over to the products themselves through the personalised customer experience.
The Garrison Tavern
The Garrison Tavern, as television fans may have picked up on, is based on the bar of the same name from the popular show The Peaky Blinders. Opened in the summer of 2020 and owned by Sam Gaitens and his brothers, The Garrison is rooted in the historic 400-year-old Saracens Head Hotel in Chelmsford. With the vintage atmosphere of the pre-existing location, Sam identified a gap in the market for nostalgic and popular culture inspired hospitality. The USP for the bar is The Peaky Blinders basis, which has been embodied throughout the tavern, featuring artwork from the show as well as an overall 1920’s theme. To further add to this, the staff are dressed in themed uniforms.
Where The Garrison succeeded is that it got people talking, resulting in word of mouth promotion combined with social media and press attention. It also serves as a photo opportunity to be further shared on social media as a result of the themed decor.
The brand image The Garrison has delivered is a local spot that appeals to a key target audience of fans of The Peaky Blinders. However, it also markets itself as a place for those looking for a relaxed location for a get-together.
Woof & Co.
Woof & Co. is a luxury dog boutique which was established by owner, Rachel Edwards in Maldon in July 2020. Although Rachel had already opened a sister company in Tiptree in 2005, it meant that she accumulated knowledge over the years leading to her recognising a gap in the market for unique dog products.
The business stocks luxury dog coats, harnesses, a wide range of exotic dog treats and toys. Furthering this, Woof & Co. has branched out to become fixed on providing natural dog treats and chews. The variety of the products offered, helped to establish Woof & Co. as a one-stop business for dog supplies as well as a location to pick up long-lasting and unconventional products. This, and the natural food products, have clearly become Woof & Co.’s USP especially when attracting a local audience.
The brand’s identity stems around providing dog owners with high quality and distinctive products that they wouldn’t find in most pet stores. The backbone of the sister company also helped to assure customers that they were purchasing from a well-informed and passionate business.
Summerhouse Aromatherapy, founded by Maria Curtis and Gary Clark, opened their first physical store in August 2020. What makes this case so special is that it is the first independent business to open at the Braintree Village. As implied, Summerhouse Aromatherapy primarily stocks bath and body products and home fragrances.
A drawing point for the brand is the sustainable and eco-friendly range of products. This includes vegan and vegetarian friendly products and biodegradable packaging. With the increasing appeal of purchasing from small and independent businesses, Summerhouse Aromatherapy made for a good alternative to big brands such as Lush due to the similarity in values and product types.
Due to the shopping-central location, Summerhouse Aromatherapy is likely to attract an array of different audiences. However, because of the online store too, there is the opportunity to specifically draw in customers who are looking for a small business that sell sustainable bath and body products.
Overall, Summerhouse Aromatherapy present themselves as a business that takes pride and care in their work. The brand’s identity particularly revolves around the handmade, vegan, vegetarian and eco friendly aspects of their products, as well as their small independent status.
Across most, if not all, of the above Essex businesses, each have identified a gap in the market and a need to fill. They have been able to use this to establish their own unique selling point which has informed the way they present themselves. This in turn has helped them understand who their target audience is.