The COVID pandemic severely impacted the company’s supply chain and EU Exit resulted in inflated shipping costs to EU consumers. Financial support and expert guidance were needed for the company to navigate through difficult times.
As a purposeful business, Bollox were eligible for critical grant funding. Various mentoring sessions were also arranged, including with internationalisation & PR specialists to advise on post-Brexit business tactics.
Daren Elsley and his company, Bollox Menswear, have experienced phenomenal growth since its incorporation only a few years ago. The brand continues to expand fast with new ranges and designs; however, support was sought after during the height of the COVID pandemic and resulting issues from the EU Exit.
“Bollox started as an underwear brand which has a fundamental aim of raising men’s cancer awareness. We donate 10% of profits to men’s cancer charities.”
“We believe that through affordable, luxury underwear with an impactful logo, and an information leaflet inside a well branded package; bollox is delivering not just a perfect own purchase or gift, but it is also serving to keep men’s health in the forefront of their minds and stressing the importance of regular self-checks.”
The company’s founding has a tragic backstory, as Daren explains: “Following the early passing of my best friend I wanted to launch a product that would really have an impact. We wanted to create a brand that could deliver an important message about men checking themselves regularly and being aware of their health.”
As the company has grown, Daren has had to face and overcome several major challenges, including those which threatened the entire essence of his brand.
“The [challenge] which caused the most pain in the first few months was trademarking the logo. The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) would not allow the logo to be trademarked as bollox was deemed to be an offensive word.
However, I’m pleased to say that with support from IP Asset and sheer determination on our part not to fail we were successful in reversing the IPO’s decision.
I have to say that from that experience, I learned a lot about resilience, and I don’t take ‘no’ for an answer.”
"I have also obtained really valuable advice from specialist advisors via the ‘Power Hours’."
Daren continues: “OxLEP as a whole has supported and helped the business in many ways.
Access to advisors and support groups has helped me overcome many business hurdles.
As a recipient of the eScalate grant, I was able to obtain vital funding to help increase and improve my marketing objectives and activity, something that is key to the success of the business given the sector we are in. I have also obtained really valuable advice from the programme’s specialist advisors via the ‘Power Hours’.
In fact, OxLEP and eScalate continue to be sources of advice and support as the bollox brand develops.”
Having had time to reflect on his own journey so far, Daren has these recommendations for other entrepreneurs and business owners who are just starting out.
“I would first and foremost say that it’s a tough game so loving and enjoying what you do is imperative. Be prepared for many ups and downs, as you will encounter them, and you must battle on through even when you feel the entire world is against you.
Establish your vision and just go for it! You will make mistakes, but make sure you learn from them, and go make some more! It’s perhaps easier to say than do but be dogged and just keep going forward.
I think it’s important that owners don’t over burden their businesses with debt, but instead aim to achieve strong and steady growth.
You’ve basically got to really 100% believe in yourself and your dream; true failure is giving up, so don’t give up!
And finally access as much support and tap into as many resources as you can to help you learn and grow. For me, OxLEP has definitely been and continues to be one of those resources.”