Starting a business in Glasgow: Diary Doll

Advice on Glasgow business support, accelerators and finance from the start-up co-founded by TV's Carol Smillie and tennis star Annabel Croft

Company name: Diary Doll
Founded: 2012
Founders: Carol Smillie and Annabel Croft 
Description: DiaryDoll are perfect pants for women who have post maternity, period and pelvic floor problems
Website: www.diarydoll.com

What’s great about starting a business in Glasgow?

The great thing about our business is that a huge part of it is online, so we are able to keep the infrastructure really lean. Scottish Enterprise and Entrepreneurial Spark have been invaluable, providing support, advice and even help with funding to help us grow from an idea to an award winning business with real traction.

What business support in Glasgow have you used? How was it? 

Our biggest challenge was overcoming people’s preconceptions about what we are and overcoming their awkwardness regarding what is still a taboo subject. Sheer grit and determination proved worthwhile when finally convincing a hugely respected retailer like John Lewis to come on board.

After winning The Edge, it gave us access to GlobalScot, a listing of greatly established and respected individuals in their field. Entrepreneurial Spark has provided office space with support to grow and did a lot of confidence building and shaping of the whole business. Sporting Chance Initiative provided market intelligence, and of course RBS and Firstport have also been really helpful.

Name the top three reasons to set up a business in Glasgow:

  1. It’s where we live and understand, so would always be our number one choice.
  2. The support and networking available.
  3. Accessibility.

Where could Glasgow be better / what does it need?

I am honestly struggling to come up with any negatives on this, we’ve been very lucky in Glasgow and supported greatly.

How easy has it been to access finance to grow?

Funding is a minefield, and choosing the right option that’s best for your business is not easy. Scottish Enterprise helped in the early stages with accessing grants, but Entrepreneurial Spark’s business accelerator programme gave me access to support and allowed me to discuss my options with so many other entrepreneurs in a similar situation (angel investment, crowd funding etc). With orders on the table, the banks are ready to help, but we are trying to fund it ourselves so far.

Where do you go to network in Glasgow?

Other ESparkers first and foremost, we all talk to one another, and offer help or advice if we’ve been through similar situations already.

Where do you take a client for a business lunch/ meeting?

The Blythswood Hotel is a favourite for me, I usually take clients to lunch here!

Where’s great for a company night out?

There are many places to enjoy a company night and in the past we have headed to Rogano, Ox & Finch, The Butchers Shop or PaneVino.

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