Reinventing the beach towel. That was the quest of two friends that loved to travel the world and wanted to create a business they could have fun with. That’s how Andy Jefferies and Ben left their corporate jobs to start Dock & Bay. Since the launch, in 2015, the brand has evolved to offer other staples, such as yoga towels and swim shorts, and is receiving investment from “Dragon’s Den” Deborah Meadon. We talked to Andy about overcoming the first issues with production, sorting out funding and the ability to have fun above all!
Project M: What motivated you to launch Dock & Bay?
Andy Jefferies: It all came about from a thirst for doing something different and not being constrained by the day to day of a 9-5 job. My previous job lacked creativity and I really wanted to actually make a dent with the work I do and have the opportunity to actually use the ideas that run through my head every day. Travel was a hot topic as my business partner (Ben) and I lived for our next trip around the world.
So, we set out to reinvent the product that caused us the most frustrations whilst travelling, the towel. Cotton towels were big and bulky, would take up lots of room, collect smells and take ages to dry but they looked great. On the other hand, travel towels of the past were too small, had a rough & nasty feel to them, dull colours and just weren’t a product you’d be proud of, but had great benefits such as being compact, quick drying and highly absorbent. We wanted to create your perfect travel companion, becoming one of few brands in the world to create slickly designed travel towels, perfect for any adventure and still with all the great benefits.
Project M: What are the biggest challenges you have faced so far?
Andy: Ooooo there’s always challenges, but that’s part of the fun. When our first production run arrived in the UK, we’d just invested our first £10k in it and 40% of it was faulty. What a downer as that was a lot of money down the drain for us at the time, not money we had to lose and not an easy one to swallow. Having a business partner allowed us both to make light of it and carry on. And we’re very glad we did.
Our constant search for cash is always a tough one too and cause for some stressful starts to each year. With such a seasonal business, that is growing rapidly, there is always a serious run on our bank as we buy stock ahead of summer to ship to 6 different warehouses around the world. Making those unknown, substantial predictions is pretty scary and challenging but great fun. Risk is what got us here after all.
Project M: What advice would you share with those thinking about creating a business?
Andy: When working in corporate and often through education, we’re taught to create a clear strategy behind the big steps we make in life. But you know, I came up with a lot of ideas before we started this business and when I tried to build it out in detail, it scared me a lot. Sometimes just having the basics and having a crack is the best thing you can do. Ben always said to me, ‘If we buy the stock and it doesn’t work out, we can still sell it at cost price’. That convinced me to head to the bank for some loans.