Jersey’s small businesses are finding niches in the market

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One of them, Sleep Well Milk, was founded 18 months ago by husband and wife team Allan and Sam Watts, and last month became members of the prestigious Guild of Fine Foods.

They successfully launched their first product, a vanilla-flavoured bedtime drink last September, and expect to launch a chocolate-flavoured drink in the spring.

The guild, which upholds excellence in fine food and drinks production, helps to promote speciality food producers and runs the well-known Great Taste and World Cheese Awards.

Director Allan Watts said this was another milestone in what had been an astonishing year for the company, including a listing with Fortnum and Mason in time for Christmas.

‘Becoming members of the guild is important because it underlines our commitment to quality and innovation,’ Mr Watts said.

‘It also helps present our product to the thousands of independent food and drink outlets across the UK.’

Made by Jersey Dairy using whole milk, honey and valerian, Sleep Well Milk is sold online as a long-life product as well as at selected outlets in the Island and UK.

Another local business, Toned Totty, which produces a range of luxury sportswear, has launched a website and started to supply de Gruchy’s department store.

Its colourful leggings, tops and sports bras were previously available only by private sale, but owner Lyndsey Stirling-Stewart said that they were now expanding the business because the range had become so popular.

The idea first came to Lyndsey from her work as a fitness instructor.

‘We set up Toned Totty because we knew our fitness clients struggled to find good-quality, fashionable sportswear,’ she said.

‘Lots of women in Jersey have expressed an interest in Toned Totty fitness clothing, and although we will still only sell a limited amount of each design to customers here, the process of obtaining items will be much easier for everyone.’

The range, which is manufactured overseas, was very practical for the gym, but also stylish enough to be worn outside, Lyndsey said. They have taken orders from individuals as far away as Australia, America and Russia as well as from wholesalers in France and Germany.

De Gruchy store manager John Marquis said that they were excited to add Toned Totty to their range of leisure wear.

‘Not only does it offer our customers high-quality, stylish producst but it also means we can support another Jersey-based business,’ he said.

The diversity of expanding small businesses means that there is no single way in which the owners can be helped to launch their products, although Jersey Business is always available to help.

Lyndsey from Toned Totty, for example, described the process of setting up her business as ‘quite a task’. ‘Because we wanted to do everything right, we started by making a logo and then registering the trademark internationally, which was quite long-winded in itself and very difficult, as we had no experience in this area,’ she said.

‘This was a few years ago and there was no one really to ask for help. I guess we just learnt as we went along.’

There was not much help from the bank, either, and she had to save for quite some time before she could afford to buy her first stock, and that was frightening. Sourcing the very specialised fabric that has to be used was critical, but dealing with suppliers from different countries was a challenge, and setting up the online store also took a lot of patience and perseverance.

Choosing the name was easy, however, as all the customers of different shapes loved it.

  • Extensive help is now available to Islanders wanting to set up or expand a business at Jersey Business, 31 The Parade, St Helier, JE2 3QQ.
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