10 Questions with…Gigi Foyle, Founder & CEO, Bag&Bones

Q. What kept you motivated throughout your business journey? (Inaya Tahir, Accrington Academy)
A. I suppose it’s passion! I knew very early on in my life that I wanted to do something creative. At school, I was one of those compulsive doodlers sitting at the back of the classroom, lost in a world of imagination. Sketching away in my notepad was so much more appealing to me than learning about pythagoras theory! And, I’ve always loved neon…for as long as I can remember the seductive glow of neon has lured me in. It just has such a positive effect on my mood. Having worked in a corporate job for 10 years, I really appreciate the fact that now I get to do something I love so that keeps me going!

Q. What is the most important thing to consider when wanting to make a profit in a newly emerging business
(Kashaf, Accrington Academy)
A. I think first and foremost it’s getting the right product. The seed for bag&bones was first planted when I spotted a gap in the market for a new type of LED lighting that was environmentally sustainable & affordable, while not compromising on style! So, after two years of meticulous research and preparation, in July 2016 we launched and it has been a rollercoaster of fun (and hard work!) ever since. We had the right product, at the right time and there was an appetite for it. If you don’t have the right product, if your timing is wrong or if there isn’t an appetite – it’s going to be a struggle. Do your research in those initial days, it is vital for success. Know your market – know your product and remember you’ll always have to keep evolving.

Q. How did you find your unique selling point? (Oliver Kalugin, Leicester College)
A. We work exclusively with LED neon and we were the first company in the UK & Europe to just specialise in LED neon for the private customer. We do one thing and we would like to think we do it well. That’s our USP.

Q. What is the biggest issue you have faced with Social Media Marketing? (Hargun Walia, Leicester College)
A. Time! There just isn’t enough of it. Pretty much all of our marketing is done through Instagram – managing that is a full-time job in itself but it is probably one of the most important jobs within our company. It’s where all our customers come from, it’s the voice of the brand and it’s also a sounding board for new ideas. So, while it’s time consuming it’s 100% worth it in terms of return.

Q. How did you financially support your business, from the early foundation stages? And if it happens to be through financial support, i.e loans, would you recommend taking one out to jumpstart a business you’re passionate about and expect profit from? (Jake Farrell , Leicester College)
A. We are 100% self-funded. I put every single penny of my savings into it (and some from my parent’s too) So, we were lucky in that respect that we didn’t have to go for outside investment / funding but I would have no problems doing so. If you believe in your business and you are passionate and you can back that up with numbers, then go for it. I’d also recommend getting a mentor. Even if that is just someone that you can turn to for advise as and when. Someone that is not family or a friend is best as their advice will be impartial. They don’t necessarily have to be in the same business but it helps if they are in something similar.

Q. What was your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it? (Callum Webb, Sharnbrook Academy)
A. Time management; I don’t think we realized how time-consuming it would be. We are literally working all the hours of the day and don’t get us wrong; we are not complaining – we love what we do. But we have had to be strict on how we manage our time. While we would love to spend our days drawing up new designs and out scouting for inspo, unfortunately there is the whole other side of the business; managing the finance, doing the accounting, sorting out the packaging and the shipping – not glamorous but very essential!

Q. What set-backs did you experience whilst setting up bag&bones (Scott Nolan, Canterbury Academy)
A. When I first launched bag&bones, I had no experience in start-ups – there is a lot to learn but luckily all the information is out there. From simple things like registering your company to more complex things like pricing. But if you put the research in at the start, it will pay dividends (and hopefully quite literally too!)

Q. Who has been your most important influencer from social media advertisement? (Tom Halliday, Canterbury Academy)
A. We recently launched a collaboration with @Zoella. She designed two lights, the profits of both go to two charities that she supports – MIND and Coppafeel. She has a big following on Instagram (10million!) so the exposure from that was pretty amazing for us as a brand and the fact that we then also get to support the work of two amazing charities is an absolute win:win for us.

Q. What inspired you to get into the competitive light industry? (Joshua Powell, Canterbury Academy)
A. My passion for neon lighting was first born when I moved from Ireland to the bright lights of London more than 15 years ago. I lived in Hackney and would spend countless hours exploring neon haunts across East London, such as the legendary God’s Own Junkyard. The effect it had on my mood was unreal – like nothing I’d experienced before. It’s just so uplifting! It’s an addiction – and one that I won’t be giving up anytime soon! It’s also a mood enhancer…I’ve got neon all over my house and I turn it on and instantly my mood is uplifted…and I know that might sound like some kind of sales pitch – but honestly, it’s true neon is a stimulant and we want everyone to indulge!

Q. What made you start your journey? (Michael Leech, East Kent College)
A. The knowledge that life is long – you only get one shot at it, so, you may as well spend it doing something you love every day!