This blog series is all about showcasing some of the UK’s most exciting entrepreneurs and tapping into their wisdom and experience when it comes to transforming an idea into a thriving business.
So who better for us to talk to than Warren Bennett, co-founder of ASuitThatFits, the bespoke tailoring company which claimed the top spot in the Dell Small Business Excellence Awards in 2009 – our global competition to reward innovative technology use by small businesses.
What is your company all about?
A Suit That Fits is a bespoke tailoring company offering ethically hand-tailored suits, shirts and overcoats starting from £259.
Customers enjoy a complimentary measurement and style consultation with an expert style advisor in one of the company’s 30 locations nationwide. They start by selecting from our hand-picked cloths and add all the extra sartorial detail they like. They will then be expertly measured for their personal pattern to be drawn, the cloth will be cut, and then hand-stitched into their bespoke suit. Once their garment is ready, they will have a fitting appointment with their style advisor to finesse the fit.
How did the idea for your business come about?
A Suit That Fits was founded by myself and my business partner David Hathiramani in June 2006. Following a gap year teaching web design in a school in Nepal, I stayed with a family of tailors who made me a fine woollen suit. On returning to the UK, David and I met and decided to work with the family of tailors to create A Suit That Fits. Our tailors are paid salaries significantly above the local rate and we fund projects in the school I first volunteered in.
What was the biggest challenge you faced when starting your business and how did you overcome it?
When starting the business, one of our challenges was the language barrier with the tailors we work with in Nepal. We overcame this by introducing a strong office team in Nepal who we trust to manage our team of tailors and liaise with our team in the UK.
If you had to do it all again, what if anything would you have done differently in building the business?
When we started the business, we introduced it as the world's first online tailoring company. We quickly realised that customers wanted to see us in person and so we began building a network of studios and pop-up TailorStops which now totals 30. In hindsight, we could have introduced the business to customers that way.
What was your ‘Plan B’ if your business venture didn't work out?
I've always been entrepreneurial so, although my background is in engineering, I think I would have always started up my own business.
What key business advice would you give to entrepreneurs or start-up businesses?
Value feedback as a gift you can learn from. Also, build your team for the business that you want to be in the future. Talented people will drive your business forward.
What technology could your business not live without?
We use our Dell laptops to connect to each other using cloud technology. This enables our UK team to connect quickly to our team in Nepal and vice versa. Using cloud technology, we can seamlessly offer 24-hour, up-to-date tailoring support.
What’s the best perk of being your own boss?
More than being your own boss, owning your own business is brilliant. Although you do work very long hours, you're in control and get to nurture the business, see it grow and steer it in the right direction. It's really exciting.