Jumbo & Friends: Esther Gimenez

The former film editor who previously worked with the BBC, talks about making contemporary children's furniture

Name: Esther Gimenez
Company Name: Jumbo & Friends
Location: Greater London
Date Launched: 30/01/2016
No. of employees: 1
Website: www.jumboandfriends.com

Tell us what your business does:

Jumbo & Friends creates exciting and inspiring children’s furniture in the shape of beautifully stylish animals.

We believe our children’s world should be fun, engaging and above all, special. We caringly craft furniture to help us parents create the perfect environment and give inspiration in the development of our precious little ones.

With our original characters, they will be encouraged to create their own stories and adventures and make new friends as they grow up, always in the safest of hands.

Our stylish designs are custom made with the highest quality materials, meeting European safety standards.

Where did the idea for your business come from?

When I fell pregnant nearly three years ago, I started looking for a cot. It was such an exciting moment in my life but everything I could find was simply not on par with what I was feeling. I found this hugely uninspiring. That’s when the idea of Jumbo was born.

Slowly I realised I could create something different that would make children’s furniture more exciting, beautiful and engaging so that it becomes part of their world and ours, and makes it better!

How did you know there was a market for it?

I knew from my group of friends and other mums I met, that there was a definite shortage in the children’s design furniture market.

For those of us who appreciate design, especially contemporary design, there really wasn’t a huge amount to choose from and they practically all shared the same style.

After creating the first prototypes, and showing the photographs around, it was clear that this was something special and very original.

What were you doing before starting up?

I am film editor, mostly editing documentary films for the BBC.

Have you always wanted to run your own business?

Not really! I’ve always been a freelance, so in many ways, it is like running your own business, but I’d never thought I would ever run a business aimed at selling products to the public.

How did you raise the money?

I worked extremely hard as an editor to be able to save enough to produce the prototypes, perform safety testing and organise the launch event and all PR activities around it.

Describe your business model and how you make money:

All my furniture is made to order, with a lead-time of eight weeks for the bigger items and four weeks for the smaller items. At the moment the margins are very small as I’m still producing in the UK but I’m trying to outsource to Eastern Europe so I can increase the margins.

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

I’ve faced many challenges over the past two years.

One of the biggest ones was how to translate the creative vision into the technical drawings to be able to produce the furniture. Another huge challenge was finding an appropriate workshop to produce the furniture to the standards required. No easy feat at all.

Also generally, teaching myself on how to run a business effectively when I’ve had no formal training before.

It’s a very steep learning curve that is ongoing!

What was your first big breakthrough?

Biggest break through has been our launch event in Upper Street, Islington (London) on Saturday January 30th. We’ve made our first few sales but most importantly we’ve had many people coming in and giving us incredible feedback about our furniture, that’s been without a doubt the best thing.

What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

Give yourself at least three times as much time as you think you’ll need to prepare for a launch event and try and do more than you think you need to promote the event!

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

I would like to have developed a solid customer base and a reputation for making beautiful, original and innovative children’s furniture in Europe.

I would like to have expanded our range to cater for a wider age range and would also like to expand on the type of furniture and start making lighting products too.

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