Mansfield-based business owner, Heidi Lawton, began her embroidery business in 2009 after making embroidered napkins for her own wedding. She talked to us about her start-up journey and how NBV’s Grant for Enterprise and mentoring has helped her business grow.
Can you tell us a little more about your business?
My business is called Extra Special Touch and we are located in Ransom Hall, Mansfield, Nottingham.
We are an embroidery company (there are 3 ladies who work here, including me) who specialise in handkerchiefs and napkins. We sell internationally via my 3 ecommerce websites and Etsy. We are highly skilled and have excellent attention to detail.
Why did you decide to start your own business, what was your background before this?
After I had made embroidered napkins for my own wedding I set the business up as a part time, side hustle business, alongside my full time job. After the birth of my son in 2012, we decided I would be a work at home mum to see if I could grow my little business. I never imagined it could grow so much!
I now work full time on the business and have a wonderful team of freelance staff around to help me make our orders. I have created 3 ecommerce websites, and we have been featured in high-end glossy magazines such as Brides and Vogue and we now sell our embroidered handkerchiefs and napkins internationally.
Previously, I had always worked in the textile trade, from pattern cutting and design assistant roles to a decade as a Sales Manager for a domestic sewing machine company. I studied art, fashion and period costume-making at Art College, many years ago.
How did you find out about NBV and the Grant Funding?
NBV was recommended to me by another small business. I have been on several of NBV’s courses, including one on email marketing and one on blog content writing. Thanks to NBV’s funding options I received a grant earlier in 2019 which allowed me to buy two new 10-needle embroidery machines. This has allowed me to offer a wider range of products to my customers as well as enabling our growth into the B2B market. The investment has helped massively. I have designed a new website, to focus on embroidered napkins and appeal to corporate and event planners. Now I have bigger and better embroidery machines my capabilities of the type of work I can offer has increased.
How has the business mentoring support helped you?
Previously, I had had no coaching or mentoring until I found NBV. I found it very useful to chat to the advisor – if only to confirm that my business was successful. I think as a working mum, when my kids were little and I worked from my dining room, it was very easy to suffer from “Impostor syndrome” and that I wasn’t really doing a good job.
What are your plans for the future?
Currently, our sales fluctuate with the summer wedding season but I aim to grow our product range so that we can be busy all year round. I also plan to keep up to date with current trends and techniques and to be ahead of all my competition. In turn, this will make by business grow and be more successful.
If you are interested in taking advantage of NBV’s Grant for Enterprise* you can read more about the terms & conditions of funding and fill out an Expression of Interest form here
*subject to eligibility