As many businesses do, we started life as a hobby. It was 2004 and my wife and I were making dichroic glass jewellery in our garage, just for the fun of making it. We reached a point where we had masses of pieces, and little space, so we decided to take the jewellery to craft fairs and quickly discovered we had a market, so Fairyglass was born.
We called the business Fairyglass because dichroic glass changes colour depending on the angle of view, and it has an ethereal feel. Every piece we made was unique, and had a magical feel. Fairly soon however, customers were asking why, if we were called Fairyglass, we didn’t sell fairies, so we tracked down a range we liked at a trade show and started to offer them alongside our glass. Right from the start, we were clear that we’d only offer something if we would like it ourselves- the quality, ethos and price had to be right.
We’d built a website to offer our jewellery and now also the fairies. Within a couple of months the fairies started to outsell the jewellery, and we began to add on other products we found, focusing on ranges not commonly available in the UK. We travelled to trade shows around Europe to find unusual products, which were mostly well received by our customers, who tended to be quite loyal.
In 2006 we took the decision to split the products, and launched Fairygoodies, initially as a retail website. At this point the business was still part time, but we were finding it harder and harder to maintain our work/life balance! I was working as a brand manager at the time, but had started to become unhappy with my main job, so when in late 2006 an opportunity arose to become the UK distributor for a range of fairy figurines, we decided to forego the security of employment and branch out on our own.
Initially working from home, with stock stored in our garage, we grew the business cautiously by reinvesting profits from sales rather than taking on debt. We attended several small trade shows, and gradually built up a retailer network for the figurines. Over the next few years we added other items to our wholesale range, usually products which we sold well at retail, so we knew there was a demand. A number of side projects happened- a foray into cake decorations, craft kits, and a boy’s version of Fairygoodies- and business slowly grew.
In 2011, we learned that one of our suppliers, Fairy Dust, was for sale, and we started negotiations to purchase the brand. At this stage our wholesale portfolio contained fancy dress products (wings, wands, tutus, boas, etc) and the figurines, but we were missing accessories, and the eventual purchase of the Fairy Dust brand allowed us to add in one go a complete range. One important part of this acquisition is that we were able to bring production of Fairy Dust back from China and employ staff in the UK to produce it here. We’ve done this at a similar cost, but gained valuable staff and flexibility in production at the same time. Around this time we also relocated to a warehouse, finally getting our house back.
Since 2011 we’ve expanded our warehouse to over 15000 sq.ft, and we now have a team of five wonderful people who make it all work.
In 2014 we came across a USA based brand of miniature gardening products, Fiddlehead. Instantly we felt that this fitted with our product requirements- it’s imaginitive, well made and priced, and inclusive. Miniature gardening also has the benefit of educating the enthusiast about plants, and doing something away from a computer. We’ve since become the exclusive UK and Ireland distributor for Fiddlehead, and we’re moving into Europe.
What next? We’ve no firm plans. We continue to look for unusual, imaginitve products, and promote the brands that we have currently. Our business continues to grow- we now supply over 500 retailers in the UK alone, plus many more in Ireland and Western Europe. It’s been an interesting and mostly fun journey so far, which we hope will continue for many years to come.