A “brilliant idea” from Giftware Association (GA) chief executive Sarah Ward has resulted in GA member Lobster Homeware being featured in a television series that will be shown around the world.
Sarah was so impressed with the Lobster Homeware apron range exhibited at the Autumn Fair in Birmingham that she suggested a sewing machine was installed on the stand to demonstrate how company co-founder Nathalie Cuffy made the aprons.
The masterstroke paid off when a crew from London video agency Hub spotted her at work and investigated the story behind the company – and the apron invented by Nathalie.
The product has integrated oven gloves which can be attached, detached, tucked away or placed in pockets, as well as height adjustable poppers so that one size fits all. There is also a mobile phone pocket and tea towel loops.
The six-part series, ‘Pop Up Start Up’, has been created by international business news channel CNBC, Alibaba.com and Hub.
The show, which will be aired in overseas territories and the UK, debuts on CNBC International (Sky Channel 505, Free Sat 201, Virgin Media 613) on December 16 at 10pm. The transmission date for the episode featuring Lobster Homeware is to be confirmed.
The series follows 12 aspiring manufacturing enterprises that go head-to-head to win a £20,000 cash prize. In each episode, two candidates are given seed money and challenged to mass produce and sell their products in a pop up shop.
Expert mentors and provide advice to the contestants on how to manufacture, import, market and sell the products. The contender who makes the most profit each week wins the £20,000 prize.
It took a 14-year journey for Nathalie to transform her apron – sketched at her kitchen table – into a range of prints. The London seamstress went from making and selling embroidered purses at school to sewing for friends, family as well as luxury fashion brands such as Victoria Beckham, Amanda Wakely and Ghost.
She taught dressmaking by day and sewed for her customers by night. But, she explains: “By 2013 the stress of constantly working, raising my three kids alone and trying to run my sewing business was just too much. I collapsed with a heart attack. My family rallied round and gave me the love and support I needed. For the first time I was able to pull back from work and focus on the things that were important.
“To my joy my younger brother Alec came back into my life. We had drifted apart, but after I came out of hospital he and his wife Lynn took care of me and sorted out my chaotic finances.
“I had never made an apron for Alec, so I showed him one. I clearly remember him looking at me and saying: ‘Nathalie, we have got to do something with them.’”
She says that without Alec, a director of Lobster Homeware, the company would not exist. “He is thoughtful and determined. Alec gathered a team of people and over the course of a year they have turned my dream into a reality.”
Alec added: “We really do appreciate the advice we receive from the GA. It was a brilliant idea from Sarah to have the sewing machine on our stand. We are hoping that the programme will help us raise our profile and grow the company.”