Case Study - Heron's Ghyll
In conversation with Mark Francis
My name is Mark, and I’m the founder of Heron’s Ghyll. I worked in corporate strategy, investment banking and software development prior to founding my company. I also did an MBA. While I first glance it seems like these are completely disparate corporate experiences, in the back of my mind I was always gearing up to start my own company, and I wanted to acquire as many transferrable skills as possible in my early career.
Heron’s Ghyll designs and manufactures luxury men’s tailoring right here in London. We specialise in stand collar tailoring. The idea came from my wedding, where I was interested in wearing something special as befitting the occasion, but didn’t want to wear a conventional men’s tailored suit with its notched lapel, because as someone with a very corporate background, that made me think of work, and I wanted something that was a little more festive.
I think I’ve always had a desire to see or to manifest my own brand. I think I’ve a lot to say, and I think a brand is a way to encapsulate a lot of different ideas into a singular vision that can be discerned from a first glance. I also had an idea about what good style looked like, what the sort of ethos that underlies a business should be, which is natural materials, local manufacturing, and I thought a business would be the only way that I could see all of these interests drawn together.
I founded the company at the end of 2019, and the already difficult business of starting a new venture was compounded by the pandemic in 2020. This made things extremely difficult for someone that manufactures physical products like myself, because we weren’t able to have fit meetings or fabric meetings in person, and the business of fashion is extremely tangible and tactile. Despite all of that, we continued to push our business forward one day at a time, and it’s this year that we’re starting to see real incremental growth.
The growth curve
Heron’s Ghyll followed a trajectory much like most other new businesses. It was extremely difficult in the beginning, especially with the pandemic, but recently we’ve been seeing, especially as of this year, a lot more traction, and where once every little incremental push was extremely difficult, now I think there’s a bit more momentum and the ball is rolling somewhat.
The biggest challenge so far has been trying to get the word out about our company. I spent the first two years focused almost entirely on product development, with a small amount of resource spent on customer acquisition. This is the first year we’ve finally decided to go full throttle and scale, because we’re more confident about our product, based on our early feedback from customers.
I’m proud of my business because this has always been a dream of mine, both to work in fashion and have my own brand. I didn’t think this was possible. I didn’t even know how one went about starting a fashion brand; but, having now launched a product in the market and had numerous sales and positive feedback from customers, I can honestly say this has been a dream come true.
There are a lot of things that I value about being an entrepreneur. I value the autonomy, I value the idea that everything I invest in this company in terms of effort and resources, I’m getting back manyfold. I think the thing I find most rewarding is seeing something that existed in my head come to life, and beyond that to be worn and be appreciated by clientele. That to me is the most rewarding thing.
I think we’re very happy with what we’ve built so far. At this stage of my business, it’s hard to project that distantly into the future, although we do have a long-term plan. I think at the core of it, I hope that what we’re doing over the long-term is similar to what we’re doing now, but perhaps at a broader scale. Which is to create meaningful, beautiful product, that caters to a clientele that’s interested in tailoring with a difference.
Start your first business in an area in which you have some existing expertise and knowledge. Starting a business is a steep learning curve, and ideally you would want to do it in an area that you already have pre-existing experience in, so that the amount of learning can be spent on founding and running a business.
Using 1st Formations
Prior to starting a company, I didn’t know the first thing about starting a company. I had a friend who registered her company with 1st Formations, so, while I didn’t know how to start a company, I did see that it was possible to do so through an agent, and that’s why I chose 1st Formations.
Our company formation process
I found registering a company through 1st Formations to be an extremely easy process. What I greatly appreciated was the price transparency, especially with regards to different packages. I ended up choosing the highest package, which included the registered address and service address, because, as someone who works from home, I did appreciate having my mail forwarded by a third party.
1st Formations today
1st Formations helps my business today by providing an address forwarding service, which encompasses registered post from Companies House, as well as Business mail forwarding. I find that greatly valuable because I do want a separation between my personal life and my professional life, and as someone who works from home, having a third party address is greatly beneficial for me.