Four years ago, Gigi Foyle was working as a scientist. She’d never ran a business before and had no experience in marketing. Today, she’s the co-founder of a wildly successful London-based neon art label, the very first of its kind in the UK, providing LED neons to the likes of Kate Moss and Chanel.
Gigi co-founded the brand with her sister Cavanagh, who still works as a lawyer in Dublin but devotes most of her free time to helping with the running of the business. Though the sisters spent two years preparing and planning the launch of bag&bones, the business’ performance must have surpassed even their own expectations: within 5 months of starting, they were providing their LED neons to Grazia Magazine, Alexander McQueen and Wilderness Festival. Now, their products are stocked in Harvey Nichols, Harrods, and Liberty, and their client base includes the likes of Kate Moss, Charlotte Tilbury, and Chanel.
So, what advice would Gigi – who successfully runs the business from a London-based office with a team of just four – have for budding entrepreneurs?
“We get asked this question a lot and we always give the same answer: Work hard. Be nice,” says Gigi. “It sounds quite simple but it’s so true. We put all of our early success down to this.”
These aren’t just empty words, either. Even now, at the point of being a highly successful enterprise, bag&bones is certainly taking niceness to another level. The majority of the profits from some of the neon designs are donated to charity (CoppaFeel! and MIND, in particular), the company plants a tree for every Globe light sold, and – incredibly – every Friday, the team leaves the office early to help out in the Ealing Soup Kitchen.
Gigi’s next piece of advice is more to do with the daily running of the business. “Get a good accountant – someone that understands your business and then do your accounts regularly so you are not leaving it all till the last minute. I’d never had need to do any sort of book keeping previously so finding my way around an Excel sheet was not an easy task for me!”
Let’s face it: even Excel experts are likely to be baffled by the ins and outs of business accounting if they’ve never done it before. Hiring someone you can trust to handle your accounts will not only make sure your papers are in order, but will also enable you to devote more of your time to the aspects of the business in which you’re the expert.
Gigi also suggests getting a mentor – someone to turn to for advice and discuss your ideas, plans, and issues. “Someone that is not family or a friend is best as their advice will be impartial,” she adds. “They don’t necessarily have to be in the same business but it helps if they are in something similar.”
The advice for starting your first business sounds remarkably simple, but all too often new entrepreneurs forget to keep these essential steps in mind. To find out more about bag&bones, visit the official website and Instagram.