I thought for today’s biz column it would be interesting to drill into the three main attributes that has made my company stand out from the herd so to speak. The idea being to inspire you guys especially if you are a bit of a way in with your biz or even if you are starting out or just have a gem of an idea.

With so many businesses and brands out there grabbing market share, standing out from the crowd isn’t an easy thing to do. Yet when you do it leads to some extraordinary opportunities like licensing deals, book deals, concessions. So without further ado here’s my top there tips: 

Differentiation advantage

We design and provide products that stand out from the crowd. We’ve come to the marketplace with a different point of view, filling a niche that has attracted customers around the world. This was never the plan by the way, it happened because I got bored with what was out there. Really bored! It all felt too ubiquitous and as though I’d seen it thousands of times before. I wanted pieces in my pad that stood out. So I stopped moaning and droning on that I couldn’t find anything at trade shows and started producing stuff myself. I cannot bang on enough about differentiating yourself from the crowd it will get you noticed. It is the single biggest game changer!

Oh and by the way you don’t have to design your own line to do this, I didn’t for the first 10 years. What you can do is seek out products that stand out, add vintage items that are unique and different. All our Moroccan rugs for instance are one-offs, so you can guarantee they won’t be in every shop on the high-street! You could collaborate with artists, designers… cast your net wide!

Market Leadership

Leading the market (in our case in innovation and quality) again was never actually a plan, I’m just fussy and a control freak. Let’s take the botanicals. I didn’t set out with an agenda to push faux botanicals, I just got bored with what was in the market place and thought I could do better. It’s paid off because although lots of other brands sell faux flowers we’re known in the biz as dominating that market place, because of our quality and our selection. In fact in the press we’ve been touted as the “Chanel of faux flowers”. Which means that when people come to buying faux’s they generally think of us first – we’ve got a bit of leadership advantage. Like I said that wasn’t the plan I didn’t think we would get such attention for doing what we’ve done. It came about purely because I was frustrated with what was out there and thought we could do better.

Controlled growth

The decision to create our own label has been the biggest change my business has ever faced but the gamble has paid off. When you start out you don’t have many options  where you can make money, it’s head down and get on.  Thing is you need money to move forward so it’s taken us a while to build up the cash flow and invest and develop our own label. It has been the best thing we have ever done. Not only does it serve as a testing ground for my ambitions to develop into lots of different categories – we’ve started something that is a stand-alone business, which if I get it right has considerable growth strategy. It’s a balancing act and a BIG initial spend, but if you don’t try you’ll never grow!


Bottom line everything that has happened to my biz has stemmed from standing out from the crowd, when you do that it opens up so many opportunities. It creates competitive advantage and it creates market leadership and although it’s not the whole story why we’ve made it work these are fundamental factors.


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