In 2015 the brains behind Dock & Bay, Andy Jeffries and Ben Muller, who’d been well and truly bitten by the travel bug, decided that not only did they want to continue living life to the fullest but that they wanted to do so on their own terms.
They had an idea for a business in an area they understood and they wanted to do it ethically and in a sustainable way. They revolutionised the life of beach bums everywhere by creating innovative quick drying towels, part of which are made from the enormous global wastage from plastic bottles.
Chancing their arm on Dragons Den, they received firm offers across the panel but opted to work with Deborah Meaden. Since then it’s been success after success. Their latest venture is a swim short range made entirely from plastic bottles, in fact, 6 bottles go into each pair.
It’s an encouraging and inspiring solution to the enormous environmental impact our plastic waste is having and allows the boys to continue fulfilling their business dreams while protecting the planet they love travelling around so much. We caught up with one of the founders Andy Jefferies to get the lowdown…
The MALESTROM: We’re all about championing British brands that we believe in, why don’t you tell our readers a bit about yourselves and how Dock & Bay came about?
Andy Jefferies: It all came about from a thirst for doing something different and not being constrained by the day-to-day of a 9-5 job.
My previous job lacked creativity and I really wanted to actually make a dent with the work I do and have the opportunity to actually use the ideas that run through my head every day. Travel was a hot topic as my business partner (Ben) and I lived for our next trip around the world.
So, we set out to reinvent the product that caused us the most frustrations whilst travelling, the towel. Cotton towels were big and bulky, would take up lots of room, collect smells and take ages to dry but they looked great.
On the other hand travel towels of the past, were too small, had a rough and nasty feel to them, dull colours and just weren’t a product you’d be proud of.
But had great benefits such as being compact, quick drying and highly absorbent. So we set out to create your perfect towel companion, becoming one of few brands in the world to create slickly designed travel towels, perfect for any adventure and with all those great benefits.
TM: What are some of the pitfalls you’ve faced along the way?
AJ: Oooo there are always pitfalls, but that’s part of the fun. Our first production run arrived in the UK, we’d just invested our first £10k in it and 40% of it was faulty.
What a downer, as that was a lot of money down the drain for us at the time, not money we had to lose and not an easy one to swallow. Having a business partner allowed us both to make light of it and carry on. And we’re very glad we did.
Our constant search for cash is always a tough one for us too and causes for some stressful starts to each year. With such a seasonal business, that is growing rapidly, there is always a serious run on our bank.
We buy the stock ahead of summer to ship to 6 different warehouses around the world. Making those unknown, substantial predictions is pretty scary but great fun.
TM: What is your ethos? And how important is it to the brand?
AJ: We created our core values, a few years ago around the Dock & Bay theme and we relate everything we do back to these to make sure every channel you see us and every country, we still get the same vibe and ethos across:
- Laidback & Approachable
- Dependable & Trusted
- Energetic & Playful
- Practical & Fun
- Bold & Adventurous
We have a really important push as well called ‘Doing Our Bit’. It’s a campaign that puts ourselves out there to say we’re not perfect, but we are making steps gradually to make our brand as sustainable as possible as we grow, reducing our ecological footprint.
We currently have one range of towels made from 30% recycled plastic bottles as well as our swim shorts being made from 100% recycled plastic bottles. Our protective packaging around our towels is all biodegradable and we are doing a lot of research on how we can next build on the steps we have made so far.
TM: Tell us more about your products? What’s the most popular item right now? Any offers our readers should know about?
AJ: Our Cabana collection still flies off the shelves as people love the simplicity of the design but with new funkier collections in this summer like our Festival collection and our bigger push towards the sport and fitness market with our Active collection, things are constantly shifting.
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TM: What does the future have in store? What are your aims?
AJ: We hope to become a globally recognised, sustainable brand, famed for our unique towels. The Havaianas of towels you could say. New product innovation (eg. What can we put stripes on next?) and new markets will play a key role in this growth. We’ve talked about hitting India or Brazil next!
TM: What advice would you have for anyone thinking of starting their independent business?
AJ: When working in corporates and through education, we’re often taught to create a clear strategy behind the big steps we make in life.
But you know, I came up with a lot of ideas before we started this business and when I tried to build it out in detail, it scared the s**t out of me. Sometimes just having the basics and having a crack is the best thing you can do. Ben always said to me,
‘If we buy the stock and it doesn’t work out, we can still sell it at cost price’.
That convinced me to head to the bank for some loans.
TM: How important is it to engage with other like-minded brands?
AJ: Sharing is caring, and I think that could never be truer in the age we live in. The sharing culture online plays a huge part in how many new start-ups grow.
Pairing with like-minded brands allows you both to shout about all the great things you think about each other and doubles your opportunity for exposure. It’s a win-win from both sides and as a brand, we are proud to talk about other brands that we respect and tie in nicely with our own.
TM: What’s your favourite independent British brand? Who would you nominate for us to feature next?
AJ: Elizabeth Scarlett. A friend of mine who has created this incredible homeware brand with some of the most soothing designs out there.
You walk into her showroom and you immediately feel relaxed. It’s incredible what Lizzie and her brand have achieved in just 3 years.
TM: We’ll look her up. How can people track you down?
AJ: They can’t now following GDPR, I have to have opted in. Haha. Honestly, if anyone ever has any questions, we handle everything from our main mailbox at firstname.lastname@example.org and it gets to the right people from there! Including me.
To learn more about Dock & Bay head to their website HERE
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