Spotlight on Dowsing and Reynolds
Today's Sunday Spotlight is Dowsing and Reynolds, husband and wife team, that started out with a challenge, some sales on eBay and have now grown to a company that employs 23 people in Leeds, selling the most beautiful homewares; light bulbs, lights, door handles and more.
You can shop through the button below but go on and read an interesting journey and some very sound business advice.
1. What was the reason behind you starting your business?
Dowsing & Reynolds originally came about by accident really. I’ve always loved design and was doing concrete sculpture in my spare time when my wife, Ally, spotted a concrete table lamp she rather liked, but thought I could make a more stylish version. One that she’d actually want to have in our own home.
I accepted the challenge and set to work. My finished concrete light needed a vintage-style light bulb to finish it off – which weren’t easy to find at the time – so I ended up sourcing them in bulk from overseas. I had far more than I needed so decided to sell the surplus on eBay. Much to my amazement, they sold fantastically well, so I bought more, and Dowsing & Reynolds was born. We now sell over 600 lighting and hardware products globally from our website.
2. How did you start up?, kitchen table? Mum’s garage, renting premises?
We started out quite humbly really - in a small rented storage unit in Leeds. Nothing spectacular – we had the unit as I need space for all the surplus light bulbs!
3. How did you fund your business?
I was making money on the buying and selling of liquidated stock on eBay at the time, so I used the profits from that to start up Dowsing & Reynolds. Since then, it’s been reinvestment of profit.
4. What was the most difficult part of starting up your business? Access to money, advice, finding people to buy, marketing etc?
Starting the business was the easy part – I just set up a shop on eBay - growing it into a company that employs 23 people has been hard. Harder than that though is building a great team, finding the right people to help us drive the business forward. We want to be surrounded by enthusiastic people who are hungry for development and change, who strive to do their very best each day. Proud people, any one of which we’d be happy to go for a beer with.
5. What help was missing for you?
I’m not sure we found that help was missing, rather that it’s hard to find – and expensive when you do!
6. What went wrong in your first year? Few months if you haven’t been trading that long?
I‘ve been managing retail stores for many years, and had learned from previous mistakes so have been lucky enough to avoid most of the common pitfalls. With Ally’s expertise in marketing, she’s made sure we’ve had that side of things covered. All I would say to myself looking back was to go for it and follow my gut instinct. I think my main mistake has been being overly cautious when considering new products and ranges.
7. What have you learnt?
We’ve learned many things along the way but the thing I’m personally most proud of is proving that it's possible to run a profitable business whilst still looking after our staff. It’s important to both us to be able to treat our team well, and to work in a happy environment.
8. What is the most important piece of advice that you could give others thinking about starting a business?
That’s easy... Get a business mentor to guide, drive and push you out of your comfort zone. Then read as many books on business and management as you can get your hands on, my favourite is Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take Action by Simon Sinek. Running a business is hard work, but the rewards are worth it… if you get the basics right.
Short lines I live by
• Don’t be the cheapest, be the best
• Know your numbers
• If we take a risk - can we afford to take the hit and continue trading if it fails?
• Employ people better at their jobs than we are
• Make the customer journey from start to finish the best it can be
• Only do things I’m passionate about
• Don’t chase the money, it will come with consistent effort and success
9. And what do you enjoy the most?
I am at heart a creator so the thing I love most is designing new products. There's nothing we enjoy more than the process of seeing a product go from a sketch on paper to a live product on the website. Second to that, being with my team – design can be a solitary pursuit so having great people around me is the perfect balance.
10. On a scale of 1-10 how hard do you find it to run your own business?
Today, as we stand I’d say a 2/10. It’s reasonably straight forward. However, we have spent over 15 years making mistakes, starting and failing in businesses and it’s that, that’s given us the now solid foundation on which we can continually move forwards. There are definitely times in the past where it’s felt like 11 out of 10.
Nicola Says " I usually add a piece to the end of all these posts but today I'm simply going to highlight this, because it is really, really good advice;
"Don’t be the cheapest, be the best, Know your numbers, If we take a risk - can we afford to take the hit and continue trading if it fails? Employ people better at their jobs than we are, Make the customer journey from start to finish the best it can be, Only do things I’m passionate about, Don’t chase the money, it will come with consistent effort and success"
The Girl with The Green Sofa