The exciting growth of Coupland Leather has been well documented in the press and across Social Media lately, with MD Stuart Coupland even landing a prime-time spot on BBC Look North just 2 weeks ago, discussing his flourishing business.
Since striking out on his own in January 2020, Stuart’s business has seen remarkable growth; going from strength to strength, with a turnover rising from £6,000 to £41,000 during a worldwide pandemic, pretty impressive! You can read all about his exciting start up journey online – however, we wanted to dig a little deeper and find out the one question we think all other Teesside business owners are wondering… how did he do it?
Whether you’re a startup business owner, running a successful company or dreaming about bringing your own brand to market one day, Stuart’s story will be a huge inspiration.
Hi Stuart! We’ve recently read about your fantastic growth with Coupland leather, Well done! Why do you think you’ve seen this growth, especially during a period of such uncertainty?
Using the experience I gained from working in the marketing industry and taking my ‘new’ business forwards, I had the opportunity to take Coupland Leather down a path which was going to work best for success. I approached friends who matched my ideal target audience and asked them what they felt would be a product they would want to buy, then I used Facebook and LinkedIn to push these products forwards. One of the most asked questions was ‘Do I actually make the products myself?’. So, I researched ways I could record myself making the products using my phone, to show people that these are genuine, handcrafted products, made in the North East. I think showcasing the production pro-cess has added value and clearly shows people how passionate I am about the products I sell and that they come from a genuine, down to earth North East lad. If I had to sum up why I think my strategy worked, I would say it’s because I reviewed every question, ran market research on my target audience and then used the data to design products specifically for my audiences’ needs. Strategically developing marketing campaigns to answer FAQ’s and make the products more desirable.
We know you’ve worked in B2B businesses for years now, do you think your experience and transferable skills from this has helped give you the knowledge to succeed?
Absolutely, throughout my career I have worked for a range of businesses and in every role, I asked myself three questions, ‘Am I happy here? Am I learning new skills? Will I earn more money?’ Being in B2B sales since 18, I was always surrounded by successful people, business owners and was subconsciously always being directed towards owning my own business. So, when I was working for those businesses at the time, I tried to learn as much as I could from those I worked for. I have watched closely the different ways business owners handle similar obstacles, how they strategise and overcome roadblocks. When I felt as though there was no more to gain from a company, I reviewed new options and moved forwards.
Following on from this, how important have the contacts you’ve made from networking throughout your career been to your growth?
The contacts I have made are priceless; I have always worked in sales and never had what I would call a technical job. I have always been pretty good with words and never been able to ‘do’ what I sell. So, when I worked in IT, I couldn’t fix a computer and when I worked in Marketing, I couldn’t set up a Google Campaign. However, the relationships I built with my former colleagues been a life saver, they’ve been there to help any time I needed advice or assistance. Equally, the contacts I have built up over 10 years of networking in Teesside’s incredibly supportive business community, have always had an open door for help and ad-vice. They have followed my growth and become clients now too, which is amazing!
Having a strong network you can depend upon in my opinion is the most important and powerful tool any business owner can have, new or established.There’ll be lots of business owners with a product they’d love to bring to market, just like you have. Do you think you’ve got a recipe for success you could share with other start-ups hoping to reach the same levels of success as you?
I honestly think there is no such thing as a recipe for success. The truth is that to succeed there are 1,000’s of recipes that you must learn, prepare and cook to achieve success. The problem is that no one has the time to learn each one and then put it in to practice. The key is figuring out which ‘meal’ your ideal target audience is wanting to eat and work to achieve that. If I were to share any advice, it would be to network and do it religiously. Build up your own brand as a person before you try and sell your product. Allow people to know and trust you as an individual, then start to explain what it is that you specialise in. When starting up, this strategy can help you build relationships which may even result in new friends offering you their expertise and advice to help you get going, often free of charge. Plus, the more you network, the more people you meet, the more businesses you can connect to and the more likely they are to want to help you.
One thing we’ve noticed you’ve excelled at with Coupland Leather is your marketing. Are there any particular platforms you’ve found useful for organic growth?
For Coupland Leather it has been LinkedIn. I’d take an educated guess to say that 80% of enquiries we get on a month-to-month basis will be from LinkedIn. But that is only be-cause that is where we have identified our ideal audience lives, especially as our product range is well suited to commercial clients.
What’s next for Coupland Leather? Any exciting plans you can let us in on?
We’re currently looking at bringing on new re-sellers up and down the country, as well as expanding the business in to a new premises and bringing on some apprentices which is really exciting. It is early days, and we have a lot to get in place before we can make the official jump, but that is the plan for 2021.
It is clear to see Stuart has educated himself on his industry, target market and the Teesside business community over the years. Even before Coupland Leather was born, Stuart was subconsciously prepping himself for life as a business owner and this has allowed him to trans-form his hobby into a successful brand.
Well done, Stuart.
You can find out more about Stuart & Coupland Leather online at: