Meet The Boss: Kim Sanford, founder of Bread & Butter Threads

KIM Sandford laughs the moment the words leave her mouth.

She’s explaining her experiences, as a 26-year-old, of founding a business.

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The graphic design graduate touches on the trials and travails the endeavour has thrown up, highlighting areas such as supply and demand.

But there’s something else; her chances of sitting down and watching Friends on the TV have taken a hit too.

She’s only joking, but her admission is nonetheless an insight into how even the little things can change when you start your own venture.

She said: “When I relax, I’m never really relaxing because I’m always thinking about what I could be doing for the business; it’s a more productive use of my time than watching Friends too!”

Her online enterprise, Bread & Butter Threads, sells custom-made clothing, such as slogan T-shirts, hoodies and accessories, with customers in Italy particularly latching on to her wares.

Based at the South Tees Business Centre, near Middlesbrough, the company saw more than 1,000 orders flood in during the run-up to Christmas, which further bolstered the firm’s position after it enjoyed £53,000 turnover in its first 11 months.

Ms Sandford, from Guisborough, east Cleveland, says she was always clear where her career path was headed.

However, rather than jumping in straight away, she built up some creative industry experience, with a number of roles as a graphic designer for Rabbit Hole and FCT Online, both based in Leeds.

She said: “I had always wanted to have my own company and knew I wanted to do my own thing.

“I had worked in the graphic design industry since leaving university, working on a variety of projects from branding and web design to large-scale wall art and clothing.

“I also went to a lot of courses about setting up a business and took the gamble.

“I always knew I wanted to do graphic design and that led me towards fashion.

“After selling just a few items a week when I first set up, I now have a fully stocked warehouse.

“The Christmas period was extremely busy and I sold 1,000 items in that time.

“It’s sometimes been a struggle but I’ve loved every minute of it and a turnover of £53,000 in my first year is definitely a cause for celebration.”

Like a lot of start-ups, Ms Sandford’s venture began modestly, though she has plans to ramp up the operation in the coming months and years.

She said: “I started in my mum’s dining room but a few months into that I realised the boxes wouldn’t fit anymore and that I had to get myself new space.

“The business is going really well and I’m looking into going into children’s clothing – that is the next adventure to go on.

“There’s a strong sense of community at South Tees Business Centre and I have worked with several businesses here to equip them with workwear.

“It is a really nice environment where everyone gets along and helps promote each other in any way we can.”

Ms Sandford is also backing the Live Work Play in Tees Valley campaign, which aims to promote the area as a place to do business.

She added: “I hope it helps open other owners’ eyes to the opportunities available to those based in Tees Valley.

“Bread & Butter Threads enjoyed rapid growth in just a year – better than I expected.

“I’m looking forward to employing like-minded creatives in the near future and watching the business grow.”