Since the application process for the Times Business Awards opened at the start of the year, numerous companies have thrown their hat in to the ring in the hope of being nominated for prestigious accolade. This week we showcase our first entry for Creative Business of the Year, Freefold.
NOT many fledgling businesses are brave enough to predict a 2,900 per cent increase in turnover between one year and the next but Tony Higson is confident his product Freefold can deliver.
Freefold is an elegant solution to a common problem. How to transport a freshly ironed piece of clothing within the confines of a backpack or hand luggage without it getting creased.
It works by using ethylene vinyl acetate foam – found in swimming floats – which is placed on the inside of the shirt and jacket. Acting as an elaborate coat hanger, Freefold allows suits to be folded without becoming creased. Unlike a suit carrier that weighs 3kg, Freefold only weighs 560.
Despite admitting he has ‘no qualifications’ but Mr Higson, has shown a great talent for innovation.
He said: “I was cycling to work when I noted the gap in the market for a removable garment carrier that fits backpacks and hand luggage. I am Dyslexic but highly creative so I am proud of managing all design, manufacturing, web development, tradeshows distribution and supply agreements myself.
“I wanted to bring my own brand to market and everyone said I couldn’t. Freefold is based in Tonbridge and supplies a product I designed on my front room floor with a shoe box and car spray.
“It is now patented globally and getting retailers orders.”
Mr Higson said the retailers are also helping to secure UK manufacturing for the product as he moves production back from China.
Having launched in 2013 with the backing of undisclosed financier form the City, Mr has so far sold 3000 units globally with 300 per cent mark-up, grossing his firm £40,000 in the 2015/16 business year.
But this year his ambitions are far higher, with a new even lighter version (150 grams) being rolled out and a big international push he is predicting sales of £1.2 million.
Winning the at Times Business Awards will be a positive recognition for what his business has achieved so far. Mr Higson said: “It’s been a struggle financially and a learning curve but a good example to my two children.
“So whilst I am not an owner of a multi-million pound turn over business. I have started a brand from the product and ground upwards. A brand that is looking set to create UK jobs and increase UK exports in a lucrative airline accessories market.”