What do you currently do?
I am co-inventor of MastaPlasta, the first self-adhesive “Band-Aid” for leather furniture – a small but long-overdue revolution in the repair world.
What was the inspiration behind your business?
As furniture designers, we were alarmed at how sofas were a massive landfill problem – many were being thrown away as it was cheaper to buy new than mend. It seemed that the world was in need of an easy, cheap solution to fix holes in sofas. We set out to find a solution – and a good-looking one!
What defines your way of doing business?
Integrity, passion, respect. That covers a lot – from the quality of our product, to how we treat our customers, our colleagues and the environment, to how we love to pay our bills on time.
Manufacturing in the UK is also really important to us – we know our production and working conditions are first class, there are no issues with delayed shipments etc and it is cost-efficient.
The huge uptake we had from our novel furniture Band-Aids meant that we’d be foolish not to go down the exporting route. However, entering new markets and becoming clued up on the varying customs requirements for each can be an unwieldy task. FedEx Express was on hand to share its knowledge on new and emerging exporting markets and as a result we were never caught off guard by hefty import charges.
We also strive to work with local businesses. Oh, and we like to keep things fun.
What do you admire?
I love good design – form and function. I’ve always loved how architects mix the old with the new to breathe new life into decrepit buildings. It’s a kind of dialogue across the centuries. It helps make the world a beautiful place. It echoes what we’ve achieved with MastaPlasta.
Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?
Our business gives us such a buzz, and on top of that we won the Queen’s Awards for Enterprise for both Innovation and International Trade (Stephan pictured with Donna Clarke, being presented with their trophies at the band stand in Broomfield Park, Palmers Green, by the Queen’s Representative Deputy Lieutenant for the London Borough of Enfield Ann Cable MBE and the Mayor of Enfield Cllr Christine Hamilton) – it’s hard to wish anything had gone differently right now.
What advice would you give to someone starting out?
Don’t borrow money if you can help it – keep costs low and work within your limits.
Keep an open mind.
If you make a mistake, get up, dust yourself down and try again.