About your business
Founder name: Miranda Harper
Company name: Zaini
Company age: 2 and a half years old
Company location: London/Edinburgh
Staff numbers: 1
Date started: 15th Oct 2010
Tell us what your business does:
It’s simple. We design and produce beanie hats and headbands while creating a lifestyle brand people want to buy into. Initially for the ski slopes but we soon turned it into an urban fashion accessory and expanded our market substantially.
Where did the idea for your business come from? What motivated you to start it?
I was a ski instructor and injured my knee so started making bright baggy hats to make money. People loved them so I built a brand around that idea and took my product to mass market shortly after.
What did you do before?
I was at university, so very little!
What did you have to overcome (if anything) to start it and get it off the ground?
Initial start-up costs were a barrier. I was 22 so people found it hard to take me seriously and didn’t think the business had much growth potential. But I knew, from my first hand market research, the potential so we got there in the end! And six months of 16 hour days and no weekend wasn’t easy either -I wanted things to happen quickly and that takes hard work and commitment!
What makes your business stand out from others like it?
Branding – we have a unique brand image that people want to interact with and can connect to. Our products are unique and very good quality.
What was your first big breakthrough?
Our very first fair was at a ski show – I paid about £700 to trade there and it was the first time anyone had seen our brand/products. We took in £2500 in one day and I knew I was on to a winning product.
Your business tips
You’re prime minister for a day. What would you change for small businesses?
Supply more support for young start-ups and people who want to work for themselves. Basic costs for start-ups including office space, accounting, vehicle rental/leasing offered at discounted prices.
These initial costs can take their toll on young businesses.
What’s your best customer service tip?
Respond as quickly as possible to any customer via email/phone. We answer all customer service queries within three hours. Don’t keep customers waiting.
What would you do differently? (What have you learnt?)
I wish I had delegated jobs earlier on. There are people out there who can do things faster and better that you but as a one-man band you don’t see that. I have yet to delegate and still run everything myself from my bedroom in London! I’m working on it!
What one piece of advice would you give to people who want to start their own business?
Take the risk, commit and work hard. Recipe for success!