2 Tone Fit: Leanne Williams and Nicki Hughes

The Liverpudlian twins set to 'rival Beyoncé' with their athleisure and swimwear brand, talk to Startups about gym wear for everyday activities

Name: Leanne Williams and Nicki Hughes
Company Name: 2 Tone Fit
Location: North West
Date Launched: 27/05/216
Website: www.2tonefit.com

Tell us what your business does:

2ToneFit designs and manufactures athleisure and swimwear for women.

Where did the idea for your business come from?

As young mothers and entrepreneurs, we realised that a shift in culture was coinciding with a shift in fashion. As modern women juggle hectic lifestyles of looking after their children, their careers, family and social activities, they are increasingly choosing to adorn gym or fitness wear for everyday activities.

This means that not only are they comfortable throughout the day, but they can save time on styling their hair and applying make-up. We, however, noticed that much of the available gym/fitness attire was (understandably) designed for function, with not much variety or fashionable appeal. Therefore, we decided to design and produce their own range of athleisure and swimwear.

How did you know there was a market for it?

Large retailers were initially slow to spot this emerging trend, we have been developing and testing our products for almost two years to ensure that they are up to the standards we would only accept ourselves.

In this time there has been an explosion of small start-ups producing their own ranges of clothing as well as some big names such as Beyonce exploiting this market.

What were you doing before starting up?

Leanne: I was a full time mother to two children under four and now work full time designing and developing our athleisure and swimwear.

Nikki: I’m also a full time mother and have my own business – the face clinic, where I use cutting edge techniques to apply permanent make-up.

Have you always wanted to run your own business?

Definitely. The difficult part is having the courage to believe in yourself, there are few things as rewarding as having a concept that it is developed and nurtured into a successful business.

How did you raise the money?

We realised that it would take significant investment to realise our concept and when we established 2ToneFit we offered up a share of the company to an investor with a similar passion and determination to succeed.

Describe your business model and how you make money:

As a modern retail company we use social media and a network of influential friends and contacts to showcase our products and direct people to our website where they can purchase from our range.

As our products our manufactured in the UK, production costs are significantly more than our competitors, who often import their products for a much lower cost. This means that our prices are often higher for the consumer, however, the quality of our products is also often much superior to those imported as they do not undergo the same rigorous quality control checks as ours.

What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?

The fashion industry is a very difficult industry to break into and as we were all lacking any significant experience, progress has been arduous and often frustrating.

The most difficult challenge we have faced has been making the right contacts, we have spent ALOT of time driving up and down the country meeting with manufacturers and fabric suppliers searching for companies to form partnerships with that share our ambition and ethos

What was your first big breakthrough?

I’m not sure that we have had a big breakthrough to date, more a series of small wins.

What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

Work hard, remember to always take a second to consider the ‘big picture’ and most importantly, failures offer the biggest opportunity for personal growth.

Where do you want to be in five years’ time?

In five years’ time we hope to be running an internationally recognised clothing label that designs and produces clothing for not only women but also men and children.

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