I am always inspired by someone who can create a really successful business from scratch and that is exactly what Charlie Marshall – owner of furniture and accessories brand – The Sleep Room ( soon to be renamed Loaf ) has achieved.
The Sleep Room is one of the fastest growing companies in the UK and it’s no surprise. They have the right mixture of stylish, lovely products, and good customer care.
So, I am really happy today to be featuring Charlie today on my ‘Inspire Me’ post….
How did you start The Sleep Room? Was it something you always wanted to do?
It wasn’t something that was part of the big life plan for me. I started off with a soup factory, something at the other end of the scale to beds. It was my first business which I set up in 1999 and sold in 2007. It was an incredibly tough learning curve but we eventually became the supplier of choice for clients such as Pret a Manger, Pizza Express, Caffe Nero, Selfridges, Harvey Nichols and Eurostar. It was possibly the best learning experience I could have hoped for and it made my objectives for starting The Sleep Room very clear. After selling Primal Soup, I bought a new house and went off to find a new bed. After a really stressful Saturday, traipsing around the usual suspects, I made the decision then and there to make bed buying hassle free and the process quick and simple. So two years, 187 mattress factories, four continents and some seriously comfy beds later, The Sleep Room was born in January 2009.
What inspired the name change? How did you come up with the name Loaf?
We wanted to move outside the bedroom to offer products for the whole home. And while we were planning the launch of our sofas I had the nagging feeling that we would have to start making excuses as to why The Sleep Room was offering sofas. This was only going to get worse as we launched kitchen tables etc! I then thought that if I could choose any name in the world it would be www.loaf.com as it fitted in with our whole ethos of relaxed elegance and four letter brand names are easy to remember. But I reckoned that there was no real chance of it being available. But by complete luck it turned out that the domain was available and so after a week of haggling with some nice dude in Florida the site became ours.
What do you consider to be your signature product?
Our best sellers are our French beds. We’ve had them since we started and they have remained consistently popular. I don’t really consider any of our products as being signature as we’ve carefully chosen and designed them to complement and work well when you put them together.
I love your vintage style furniture – have you always been a lover of retro?
I wouldn’t say I am a lover of retro per se although I do have quite a bit of mid-century furniture in my own home. What I have always loved is mixing pieces up from different eras: an old French bed with a 20th century Knoll side table and some fifties Danish lamps gets me going, for example!
What would you say is your main ethos?
Treat your customers as you would want to be treated yourself. I personally hate shopping as I don’t like being confronted with a large choice. So at The Sleep Room we only offer a select range of products I would be happy to have in my own home which are both great value and look nice.
Can you offer some advice for new online companies?
Think of your website as you would a bricks and mortar shop: invest in as good a website as you can and it will save you a fortune as you grow.
What’s in store for Loaf for the rest of this year and beyond?
We want to become a British institution known for amazing products and service. We’re already one of the fastest-growing companies in the UK, but we’re thinking much bigger. We’re planning on extending our offering to cover the whole house within the next 18 months (we have floor rugs, kitchen tables and chairs coming out at the start of next year). And after that we’ll be opening an enormous destination outlet complete with kids pool in summer, ice rink in winter and all sorts of other fun things to make it as fun an experience as possible.
I’m looking forward to that :) Thanks Charlie !
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