Eight Inch: Gary Nicholson
Gary Nicholson always wanted to be his own boss. Now his business is going from strength to strength.
Budding entrepreneurs take inspiration from a variety of sources before going it alone. Gary Nicholson, founder of Eight Inch, has more than his fair share of business icons who have helped him on his way.
“Before retiring, my dad used to own pubs, nightclubs and restaurants in Newcastle, which I guess introduced me to the world of self-employment,” he explains.
“Without wanting to sound too much ‘Miss World’, I admire the human spirit and endeavour of people taking pride in what they do.
“This may range from a helpful assistant in the local shop or a good salesperson to people like Ernest Shackleton or Brunel. People who have made a difference and especially against the odds are pretty inspirational. I certainly have a soft spot for Trevor Bayliss.”
Nicholson started up furniture and surfaces designers Eight Inch in 2000. The business is the UK’s sole supplier of TTURA, a durable design material for products made up of fragments of recycled glass.
For Nicholson, being an entrepreneur came through a rejection of the nine to five lifestyle.
“I have always known that I didn’t want to work for anybody else and wanted to be my own boss,” he says. “I didn’t actually set out to be an entrepreneur, but the way my mind works took me there.”
Nicholson realised there was a gap in the market for what he describes “sexy and high quality products which are made from sustainable or recycled materials.”
Having developed TTURA, Nicholson admits he endured difficulties in getting the product, and the business, off the ground, conceding that he was naïve in the early days.
“I started out showing a little box of TTURA samples to architects and interior designers whose work I had seen I thought would be excited by TTURA and its possibilities,” he says.
“Eventually after doing a few projects, I had some images to send to magazines which then generated more enquiries and further sales.
“The business and product development were financed entirely from my savings and frugal lifestyle, although we are now getting a bit of assistance from the government
“It was quite difficult to keep the belief that things would get better, and simply learn how to run a business. But more specifically, I had to overcome the public’s perceptions of recycled products, while launching a new material with a limited history,”
Having overcome an initial lack of both time and money, Gary’s business is booming and he was named Manufacturing Business of the Year at this year’s Startups Awards. Nicholson hopes that the award will help smooth the path for further expansion of Eight Inch.
“Future plans include setting up a much larger facility where everything is done in house and under one roof,” he says.
“We were always developing new recipes for kitchens and bars, but will also be developing a range of complementary products such as sinks, basins and shower trays, and establishing ourselves as a market leader in the supply of bespoke, recycled surfaces.”
So what is Nicholson’s advice to budding entrepreneurs?
“Pay your bills on time, don’t worry too much about what may or may not go wrong, just try and have the belief that you will be able to deal with it when it does.
“Try and remember that no-one knows everything and if it was easy, everybody would be doing it.”
For more information on Eight Inch, go to www.eightinch.co.uk