Megan Tudball (left) and Bee Paul
MT: My background is in business. I worked with my entrepreneurial father as a shipbroker before I had my children and have spent the last 15 years as a mother while working on the accounts for my husband’s business. I have always had an interest in fashion and a secret desire to work in a creative industry.
BP: My background is very much on the creative side. Having a secured a degree in Graphic Design, I enjoyed a 25-year career in Interior Design. Having run my own interior design business for 18 years, I put it on hold to concentrate on Meg & Bee. Design is totally in my blood!
THE TUDBALL AND PAUL STORIES:
BP: Having met each other on the school run, Meg and I, both mothers of three, became great friends, and later on business partners when establishing Meg & Bee. Following a break in Italy, I returned home with a bag I had treated herself to on holiday having been inspired by the huge array of colours and leather available. This led to a glass of wine in the pub and a brainstorming session with Meg - and the foundations of Meg & Bee was born!
MT: My interest in fashion and business and Bee’s 25-year career in interior design plus our firm friendship were the perfect recipe for our exciting new bag venture.
You wake up in the morning - what’s the driving passion?
MT: For both of us, it’s simply a cup of tea to get us going at the start of the day!
What was the genesis for the company?
BP: It was just a chance buying of a bag really! Despite both our lives being busy and me working full time on an interiors project, Meg & Bee was born out of our friendship and a shared sense of adventure. It has since grown organically and at a speed both of us could never have imagined. It is an entirely self-funded venture undertaken on a shoestring with everything reinvested back into the business.
MT: Together our joint sense of passion, ambition, commitment and extreme hard work has allowed Meg & Bee to be the brand it is today. It is our pride and joy!
What distinguishes your product line from what others are doing in the same category?
MT: Our bags are not mass produced and are beautifully made with love and care in a small workshop in Spain to our specific designs using leather and hardware handpicked and designed by us.
In addition, we offer quality at an affordable price in a vast array of colours and sizes and an ever-expanding range of designs. We supply the components and our customers create their bag.
One of your products was on full display at this year’s Ryder Cup matches. How did that come to pass?
BP: The brand was chosen by European Team Captain Pádraig Harrington’s wife, Caroline, as the on-course bag for the week for the wives and girlfriends of the European Ryder Cup Team. Once contacted by the European Tour about the opportunity, we put together a selection of combinations - a bag, strap, tassel and charm - to reflect the European Team colors.
The bag chosen was a navy leather camera style crossbody - The Navy Classic Leather Kit - a dark blue strap embossed with gold stars - The Navy Gold Circus Strap - and a contrasting Suede Navy Tassel.
MT: And we were absolutely delighted when it proved extremely popular with the wives and girlfriends, most of whom were seen wearing them out on the course whilst following the golfing action.
Did that exposure help generate significant sales?
BP: It has certainly created some awareness for the Meg & Bee brand as many of the wives and girlfriends gave us mentions and sent us thank you notes on Instagram which was fantastic. We are confident this will generate some good sales in the future and open up new customer markets for us.
We are very lucky that in just three years, our bags are loved and worn by many women all over the world including a range of high-profile personalities here in the UK such as Gaby Roslin, Davina McCall, Lisa Faulkner and Dame Kelly Holmes.
Do either of you play golf? And, if so, how much do you play. If not - why not?
MT: We have to admit neither of us do! However, who hasn’t heard of the Ryder Cup? When we told friends and family, we were going to be involved in the Ryder Cup they were bowled over. We loved being involved in the event and followed it for the first time this year.
BP: It did inspire us to someday take up the game but at the moment, it may be safer to leave it to the professionals!
In terms of marketing and sales - what’s the rough percentage of your sales via green grass shops, brick and mortar retail outlets and online?
MT: The majority of our sales are generated online although we host pop-ups and participate in the famous ‘Spirit of Christmas’ held in London every November plus a few other London-based charity fairs.
Plenty of companies routinely tout the importance of customer service. Define the term and the approach you follow.
BP: We love engaging with our customers as it makes the whole experience more rewarding for us. We offer a very personal customer service and treat every customer individually. Our customers are very important to us so much so that we have recently invested in a Customer Service Team.
Best advice you ever received - what was it and who from?
MT: ‘Follow your gut instincts’, ‘ Life is too short’ and ‘Don’t be afraid to take a risk’. These are our top three bits of advice that we adhere to.
BP: This is not advice from particular individuals but sayings we feel sum up our approach to our business. We have made mistakes but we are always learning from them.
Biggest challenges - short and long term - face the company and how do you see you dealing with each?
BP: In the short term, the biggest challenge is probably being able to keep pace with the rate with which are company is growing - there are simply not enough hours in the day.
MT: We realise this is a very fortunate problem to have and feel very grateful for it. we take each day at a time.
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