Funding Circle: Small Business Spotlight – face value
A makeup student who started with a makeup booth at a festival has turned her passion into a fashion label with a host of celebrity fans – including Margot Robbie, Nicole Scherzinger and Pixie Lott.
Madeline Griffiths, 38, started at the trendy Secret Garden Party in 2013 and her eye-catching sequins and jewelry quickly started getting word of mouth.
She poured all her savings into the project and went for years without making a profit before taking on a business partner – 28-year-old festival client Roisin Cusack.
The pair – who can also count Kylie Minogue, Georgia Toffolo, Cara Delavigne, Maya Jama and Noel Fielding among their fans – now have a range of products from ASOS, Boots and Selfridges.
And now, after successful collaborations with Nike and Southern Comfort, the company is set to expand to the United States.
She says: “People kept saying ‘you have to make a business of it’. It was very hard work and for a long time I had less money than when I was a student.
“Then I thought ‘what if I designed products and made them right?’
“We started making money doing the mobile beauty services mostly at big parties and events around London, including at Google and YouTube.
“We were even approached by Richard Branson’s family to host their parties.
“Building the business as a service was going to be very staff intensive and difficult to grow, but I was always interested in creating products so anyone could buy them online and do the looks themselves at home. House.”
Inspired by positive feedback from festival-goers, it entered the retail market in 2015 with the help of Funding Circle, the UK’s largest small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) lending platform.
Soon after entering the market, In Your Dreams went from strength to strength, securing lucrative deals with retail giants such as ASOS, Forever 21, Selfridges and Boots.
Year after year, the company continued to expand, hiring three full-time employees and around fifty freelancers.
But the coronavirus pandemic has brought the business to a halt, hitting the events and entertainment business that In Your Dreams relies on so heavily.
Madeline said: “All of our makeup artists had virtually no jobs. These people received no help because many of them were self-employed.
“I was trying to stay positive throughout. I kept thinking things were going to change, and that’s probably what kept me going.
“I was trying to think of ways to create new products or collaborate with people, but the company’s cash flow pretty much stopped.
“Essentially what happened is we had to start over from the beginning, but we have this cash flow and we have these relationships and these customers. We are now ready to launch into the American market this summer.”
ASOS has pledged to double its orders, the company is looking to hire five more full-time staff, bringing the total to eight, and Madeline is hoping to secure a six-figure investment in the business.
To ease their cash flow burdens and keep pace with growing demand, In Your Dreams is considering taking out another loan through Funding Circle.
She added: “We’re overwhelmed with work, but it’s really hard to run a business without the cash. We haven’t gone out and had no time to create new professional emails, but we’ve been approached by five or six major retailers in Feb. alone.
“We have already been confirmed at Glastonbury, Wilderness and Secret Garden Party this year.”
The recovery some small businesses across the UK have enjoyed is reflected in Funding Circle’s new economic impact report, which found that more than 80% of small or medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) were confident in their long-term future. term in November 2021.
The report, produced by Oxford Economics, also showed that the percentage of SMEs intending to expand has doubled since the second quarter of 2020 and is now at pre-pandemic levels.
In 2021, Funding Circle loans are estimated to have contributed £7.2bn to the UK economy and supported over 100,000 jobs.