Huxter: Sophie Bell-Carr
Moving home 11 times in eight years to three different countries, holding down a job was a difficult ask for this mum of two. So, she decided to start her own
Tell us what your business does:
Huxter is about clothing which is handmade, bespoke, quality, durable, fun and unique for boys and girls. We make everything in the UK. The process is simple enough, you choose what item you would like and then we match the coordinating fabrics. Therefore, every item is unique to your specifications.
Only a certain amount of fabric is ever ordered in, so once it's gone, it's gone – making your piece of clothing even more unique.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
As a mother to two awesome boys, I was completely frustrated by the lack of imagination when it came to their clothes after the age of two. It seemed to me that if it was brown, it was ok and as a customer I just had to settle for what was on offer.
So, with a background in textile design and anything fabric, I decided the only thing to do was to start making my own clothes! I asked for an overlocker for Christmas (much to my family's disdain!) and started sewing.
We sourced fabric locally and, as we were living in Germany at the time, it was easy to find gorgeous jersey fabrics. I discovered my now amazing friend Alice Weiß's shop in a lovely village called Hövelhof, and the rest is history. I started making my ‘Huxley Pants', people liked what my boys were wearing, they asked me to make some for them and ‘Huxter' was born!
How did you know there was a market for it?
I suppose initially, I didn't. It was all rather organic. People liked what my boys were wearing, they wanted the same and it just grew. However, I most definitely had a gut feeling that if I wanted clothes like this, there would be plenty of parents out there who would be in the same situation. I think I was right as Huxter is most definitely a hit.
What were you doing before starting up?
I was a mother and an army wife. Having moved 11 times in eight years to three different countries, it was quite hard to hold down a job. I am still both of those but I can now add ‘business owner' to the list!
Have you always wanted to run your own business?
As my husband is in the Army, you never know where you are going to be from one year to the next, I have always thought that I would need to run my own business if I was truly going to get my teeth into a career again.
Having said that, there has always been a spark inside me that has wanted to run my own business and be master of my own destiny.
How did you raise the money?
As we were still living abroad when the ‘idea' started to blossom, I just used a small amount of our monthly income to buy fabric. I didn't buy any more until I had sold what I had (which is quite hard when you have an addiction to buying fabric!) and that is how I have worked so far to date. I constantly reinvest so have never had to raise a large lump sum.
Describe your business model and how you make money:
We make what the customers want, we are flexible and have a relatively quick turnaround (14-21 days) for something that is being made specifically for their child. We are more than happy for people to say ‘actually, I'd like a red stripe with that and not a blue spot' but are also happy to complete the process ourselves. It makes them feel part of the finished item, people like that.
What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
Definitely time. I have a six-year-old and a three-year-old who have been amazing but cannot just be parked in front of the television every day when they are home. It means that I do an awful lot of work in the evenings and at the weekends when my husband can take the reins a little.
Also, everything in the business takes ‘time'. When you start-up you are PR, marketing, maker, designer, website builder, admin… the list goes on. I am learning to let go of certain aspects and allow my small team to take control of those but still manage to build my brand in the way I want to.
What was your first big breakthrough?
I haven't had a specific ‘breakthrough' moment. I think the fact that my clothes are selling and the company is growing month on month is my own personal breakthrough. The fact that there is a market out there and people love what we are doing. We just need more people to hear about Huxter!
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
If at first you don't succeed, try and try again. It is unbelievably hard work and the hours you put in well exceed a ‘job' but the benefits and payback when you succeed far outweigh any negatives there may be. Oh, and always listen to your gut, it's usually right!
Where do you want to be in five years' time?
To be a household name in the sphere of kids clothing…. we may even have an adult line by then too!