Made in Chelsea's Jamie Laing has a reputation for playing hard, but not as yet working hard. It's a characterisation he's hoping to expunge by taking his business Candy Kittens to £2.5m in sales.
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Self-confessed party boy and Made In Chelsea star Jamie Laing is more famous for his exuberant social life than his business skills. But, behind the TV persona is an ambitious entrepreneur who’s hoping to hit £2.5 million in sales with his confectionary venture Candy Kittens.
Tell us about Candy Kittens, what is it all about, why is it different from a sweet that’s out there?
I realised from a young age that I wanted to do something for myself, I wanted to be an entrepreneur, I wanted to create something different, I wanted to make a difference.
My business partner and I, Ed met in 2012 and we decided we wanted to make sweets. I’ve loved sweets since I was a kid and we realised that all sweets were aimed at a much younger audience. We wanted to create a sweet brand that related to fashion, which was very trendy. We wanted to make a difference in the sweet world.
The business has been up and running for a few years now, how has it all been going? How much money have you been making?
It’s been an excellent start, and obviously we’re in that building phase and it’s tough for a young business to establish themselves. The most exciting thing we have achieved is excellent retail distinction.
We drew up a dream list of retailers that we could have hoped for in our first three-five years, and we’ve managed to achieve those in the first two. We have stock in Tesco, Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Topshop and Selfridges. It’s been about establishing that brand in the consumer mind.
These supermarkets, these retailers aren’t going to stock a product unless they believe in it themselves, unless they like it, unless it’ll sell and has longevity. We realise that, so what’s great for us is that these retailers aren’t buying into me Jamie Laing, they are buying into the product, what it tastes like, looks like and what they think it’s going to achieve.”
Candy Kittens' Jamie Laing and Edward Williams with with Share Radio's presenter
You’re trying to raise £300,000, I think that values the business at £4m, so what are you trying to do with the £300,000?
We’ve grown that great retail distribution and now it’s about communicating that to the customers and letting them know we are out there. We’re up against some pretty big scary players in this field and now it’s about putting that money behind a marketing campaign, seriously getting the name out there.
Why should people invest Made in Chelsea's 'party guy'?
With any business it’s important to see who you are investing in. On Made in Chelsea I’m perceived as a guy who parties and has fun. But they don’t get to see the very driven, enthusiastic and passionate person that I am. Made in Chelsea is a TV show, we’re there to entertain, some people don’t find things about a business that entertaining.
What I think is more important is that people aren’t investing in me, they are investing in the brand.
You said you’re in Selfridges and Waitrose, Tesco’s and a few others, so that must mean you have some revenue coming in?
Yes, this year we’ll turn around about £850,000 for financial year. Next year we’re hoping to do £2.5m, the growth is very exciting.
You have to have a lot of money to create a good marketing platform and so we’re going to crowdfunding to hopefully create something special, create something exciting that gets these sweets out there.
Have you thought of other ways? Could you have gone to venture capitalists? You must know other rich people and families?
Realistically, we have a good business proposition, so there are lots of ways we could have made money. Crowdfunding brings a lot more than the money. We’re sitting at about halfway to our target raised with 300 investors.
We already have a huge army of people there, not just the money, they’re brand ambassadors, they’re out there telling their friends and family and championing the brand on the streets and that’s what we really want.
I think for the younger age group, we are seen as slight role models and people look up to us. With crowdfunding, there are so many people that I have met who want to set up a business and have the dreams to do it, but don’t know how to do it or where to get the money.
These platforms such as Seders are a great platform for people to go for these ideas and actually get money from crowdfunding.