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Interview with Bread & Jam

 by tia on 31 Jan 2017 |
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Interview with Bread & Jam

We wanted to get together with a loyal customer of ours to get some insight into their retail gift business.
We hope it is relatable to some small - medium size business and their advice is useful to you.


1. What does your company do? How did you come up with the idea?
We are a small giftware company specialising in personalised products which have a distinct happy tone and everything
we do is intended to leave a smile on the recipients face when they receive our work. The idea behind Bread & Jam was
partly to do with a period in our lives which was difficult and somewhat full of sadness. Some of our earlier products
were designed to give to each other (we’re a husband and wife team) to cheer each other up, others were to cheer other
family members up. So the backbone, the essence of the business was about adding some cheer into the lives of those
who received our products but this has evolved into all aspects of people’s lives not just unhappy moments.
We’re fortunate enough to be involved in the most intimate and heart warming areas of people’s lives.
This includes birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, kids leaving home for the first time, proposals of marriage and many
many more joyous moments, we’re very privileged. 

2. Tell me about when you were trying to write your business plan? What was that like?
Ha! Actually, we’re more wing and prayer type people, we didn’t write a business plan for Bread & Jam and I don’t think we
need to either. We don’t seek 
funding from banks or venture capitalists (who are the prime users of such material) and we are
much more fluid in how the business develops. That’s not to say we don’t have a broad understanding of where we need to be
as a business or what we need to do to get there, we just don’t have to formalise it in words. We have written business plans
in the past and they are monumental, time-consuming documents to prepare and the honest truth of the matter is that we
never revisited them afterwards. However, we do project our cash flow and sales forecasts and we analyse our performance
against them every week.

3. What are your top 3 challenges you face in your job related to the gifts/retail industry?
At the very top of the pile would have to be innovation. Coming up with a unique or never been seen before product is very
challenging indeed but the trick is to remain honest and true to your own style/beliefs and ensure you're being authentic
at all times. Customers or potential customers seek out authenticity in a world of mass production and cold hard talk about
margins and bottom lines. Quality is also challenging, without massive investment in professional equipment, we rely heavily
on suppliers to be able to make up elements of our products in a reliable and consistent basis when it comes to quality.
We definitely don’t see our strategy as pile them high and sell them cheap, which means quality becomes more important
to our discerning customers; they value quality more than you would think. Another big challenge for us is response time.
We are in a market which moves particularly fast and we produce products which require personalisation but also need to be
dispatched on the day the order is placed. We have a small but solid team, working hard to turn orders around but we also
need our suppliers to work hard for us on that basis too.
We’re lucky with the network we’ve built up; they are very good at responding to our needs.

4. Can you offer any advice to a small start-up company?
Be selfish when it comes to your own ideas and seeing them to fruition. Advice is there to be taken or left, ultimately you
are in control of your own destiny and whether you succeed or fail will always come down to the decisions you make,
the buck stops with you. Work hard and have fun and lastly try not to lose sight of the reasons you started working for
yourself in the first place.

5. How do you know you’ve had a successful year/month/day?
We know we’ve been successful when we can feed and clothe our kids and afford some little extras each week/month/year.
We analyse sales against monthly projections and year on year figures so we know if we’re up or down in any given
period of time. We’ve been lucky to see significant growth in every year to date but particularly large growth in the last 2
years and we’ve managed to make enough money to see a bit of the world with our two girls. We don’t have high
expectations when it comes to life in general, they’ll be no sports cars or speedboats in our lives, possibly a campervan
and canoe but like I say, our expectations are quite modest.

6. What did you look for when choosing your packaging and how do you use the packaging you have now?
The packaging we use has always been very important to us and we believe it significantly increases the joy and
enjoyment of what we produce. We’ve always had in our mind that the reveal of a product is important and we wanted
to take the “chocolate box” approach to opening our work. This comes in the form of a sliding, 2 part box with a vellum
cover sheet which has to be peeled back to reveal what’s inside, all adding to the sense of anticipation and enjoyment
of receiving a Bread & Jam product. We also require a good deal of quality and luxury when it comes to the finish of our
packaging, which is why we opt to have our boxes hot foiled with gold or copper with Tiny Box. We’ve had plenty of positive
feedback on the quality of our work, which makes us very happy indeed. We also work with a number of luxury goods
retailers, whose expectations for quality are extremely high but we’re happy to report they say this is the number one
reason why they approached us in the first place.


7. How important do you think branded packaging is against non-branded?
Branding is a key part of our offering as we work primarily in the retail sector where word of mouth and brand awareness
is key for growth. It also lends some weight to our products when it comes to copycats and IP theft.
Customers are aware that we are original and this is somewhat down to our branding. We have our work sent all
over the world and it is lovely to have someone in Los Angeles, for example, tag us in on social media when they
have received their gift. We have also found that bloggers tag us in, even if the original purchase wasn’t directly with us. 

8. If you could go back to the beginning and do it all again, name one thing you would do differently.
We’re pretty happy with the way things have worked out in general, we’re where we want to be and even the things we
have made mistakes with have informed what we do today. The very best way of learning is by making mistakes and
making sure you put your fear of failure to one side, which can be paralysing and stop you from fulfilling your dreams.
Perhaps having a bit of capital to start the business would have meant we could have progressed a little quicker but our
initial £600 has seen us do OK in the short time we’ve been around.

We hope this interview with Bread & Jam has given you and your small business a good insight into where you are and what
you can become with a little faith and confidence!

To visit Bread & Jam's website and see their beautiful products click below.

or discover them on social media


If there is anything else you would like to see on our blog, do not hesitate to contact me on tia@tinyboxcompany.com

Written by Tia | Tiny Box Company


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