We always enjoy hearing about the success of the business start-ups we have supported over the years, and we were delighted to hear about the journey of MastaPlasta, who received support and access to finance through London Small Business Centre.
MastaPlasta sent us their story to explain how their start-up has led to a Queen’s Award for Enterprise.
“Many of the best ideas are accidental, but in the case of award-winning company MastaPlasta, a pure accident really did launch an international success story.
And, with the help of London Small Business Centre, MastaPlasta has grown from hard-up start-up to being one of only five winners of a double Queen’s Award for Enterprise – in just seven years.
Founders Donna Clarke and Stephan Pavlou had a successful furniture design business, but they saw thousands of pounds worth of goods being wasted because of minor accidental damage by delivery companies. They often also had to console distraught customers who had ripped, burned or stained a cherished piece of furniture, and faced a big repair bill.
So they invented a cost-effective and stylish ‘Band-Aid’ to patch over any furniture damage for just £10, and began a range of trend-setting ‘plasters’ that have become fashion statements for many customers.
Their success in finding new markets has just won the company two Queen’s Awards for Enterprise, for international trade and innovation. The unique product is now going global, helping repair car seats, motorcycle and riding saddles and even yacht upholstery, as well as business and domestic furnishings.
But the start was tough. The original idea came at the height of the 2009 economic crisis. Just as the retail furniture market collapsed, customers also wanted an alternative to expensive and complicated repair options.
So Stephan and Donna explored the market, tested materials and designs and found they had a unique repair product that was much cheaper than expensive and unreliable stick-and-mend solutions.
They were ready to start their business but needed some cash to help them tell the world. So Stephan approached London Small Business Centre for help to create the MastaPlasta website.
With a three-year £10,000 loan, and help from their advisor, they could develop their eye-catching site and the loan was repaid in full.
Now, thanks to links through Amazon and other online portals, MastaPlasta products are selling strongly in the US, and other markets such as Spain, Germany and as far afield as Alaska and Guam.
The success was heralded by The Queen in her annual Enterprise Awards, and Donna and Stephan will be heading to Buckingham Palace in July.
No successful business stands still and MastaPlasta is focused on expanding the market for its existing products, as well as widening the range of products and designs.
In addition, it is exploring new fashion accessory markets, having shown that style as well as functionality are key elements of MastaPlasta’s success.”