Darlo: Chloe Hoole
The female founder on being inspired to launch her start-up whilst travelling, why having the perfect product is paramount and how a little can help a lot
Name: Chloe Hoole
Company name: Darlo
Location: Greater London
Date launched: 18/10/14
Tell us what your business does:
Darlo is an ethical babywear brand with a difference; as for every item we sell from our 100% organic cotton range we will donate a whole week’s worth of meals to a child in India.
We do this through working in collaboration with Mumbai based charity Project Crayons, creating the A Little Giving Food programme.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
It was whilst travelling that I first started to dream of Darlo.
During my time away, I was overwhelmed by the lack of opportunities for children in developing countries and was constantly thinking of how I could help when I got home. At Darlo’s core is the belief that a little giving changes lives. The little difference here goes a long way to making a big difference there.
How did you know there was a market for it?
A lot of primary research and testing potential customers with our first samples.
I literally carried the samples everywhere in my bag. If I saw a mum in the park, on the tube or bus; I’d just stop them and ask what they thought. Everyone loved the concept so we knew that Darlo had traction and we had to go for it.
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What were you doing before starting up?
I worked in marketing for various FMCG companies.
Have you always wanted to run your own business?
Yes, I have always been interested in launching my own company. My dad has his own business and so it runs in the family blood – I just needed to find the right business to pursue.
How did you raise the money?
We secured initial funding through Start Up Direct, a delivery partner of Start Up Loans, a government backed initiative to support budding entrepreneurs in the UK. The support we have received from them has been invaluable.
In addition to their loan we have been funding Darlo ourselves each month to help our cashflow in these early stages.
Describe your business model and how you make money:
Our initial sales strategy was wholesale and we have launched in several boutiques based in London. However we recently launched our online shop, selling direct to consumer and have listings on consumer sites such as notonthehighstreet.com.
What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
Finding a charitable partner wasn’t that easy actually but we managed to find an incredibly supportive and inspiring charity in Project Crayons.
The biggest challenge has to be when our first batch arrived and we were not 100% happy with one item in our range and we had to reject the stock. The quality of our products is so important to us that we felt we had to get a product that we were happy and confident in selling but taking this hit on our cashflow has been hard and we are working through it.
What was your first big breakthrough
The launch of our online shop has been a success to date and we have managed to provide a year’s worth of meals for one child already.
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
Firstly seek help and advice. You don’t need to set out on this journey alone and there are a number of experienced business people who will be willing to help and advise you – so take it.
Secondly, believe in yourself. Yes you will make mistakes but have no fear because if you know you have got something special then you will get there!
Where do you want to be in five years’ time?
In five years time we hope to have made a small contribution in the struggle to combat global malnutrition, especially in children. Starting with completely offsetting the food bill for all the children under Project Crayons care.