The aim of the new ‘Behind The Brand’ blog series is to get to know the faces behind the brands that we are starting to see more of in the equestrian world, and to give those of you who are interested in starting a business, more of an insight into what it’s really like being a business owner.
I’m kickstarting this series off with an interview with the brains behind the simply GORGEOUS brand, Tom Lane.
Tom Lane is a lifestyle brand, which designs and manufactures clothing and luxury socks, all made here in Britain, and was founded by Jayne Ireland in 2015 who runs the business from her family farm in Lincolnshire. She sells through her website, as well as at various shows throughout the year, all over the UK.
So Jayne, how did the idea for Tom Lane come about?
I started Tom Lane shortly after graduating from a Fashion Design degree from Falmouth University. I had written the business plan as part of a module in my third year, and although I didn’t intend on setting the business up when I left university, as I went back to working in the agricultural industry I decided that I wanted to pursue Tom Lane. I was living back at home and didn’t have many living costs which made me think that maybe now was a good chance. I have always been creative and the prospect of having my own label was very exciting!
I have always been passionate about British made products and travelled around Britain visiting factories and mills to gain a real understanding of production in the UK. It’s important to me that my products are good quality, durable and have longevity so I like to know exactly how they are being made. The nice thing about working with British factories is that I can make regular visits and have face to face contact with the people that are making Tom Lane products.
How have you grown since starting up? Any milestones?
I have learnt a huge amount since starting Tom Lane and that has enabled me to grow the business. I didn’t have a lot of experience when I started and I have learnt everything about running a business as I have gone along – I learn new things everyday! Tom Lane started off with just shirts and from there I have grown the collection and now produce an extensive collection of knitwear and luxury socks. The business has just turned 3 years old and I am very proud of how far it has come in that time.
What is your favourite product?
I particularly like my new collection of shooting socks that I have just launched. I have used such a range of exciting colours and patterns and they have been really well received so far. I also love my lambswool roll neck jumper – it’s a must have for winter!
What do you love most about your job?
The nice thing about running my own business is the flexibility that comes with it. I also attend lots of shows throughout the year which I really enjoy, it’s great to meet customers in person and showcase my designs in amazing locations around the UK.
What do you find most difficult about running a business?
I run the business single handed and at times that is hard. I have to fulfill such a variety of jobs from bookkeeping to marketing and sometimes it feels as though there are not enough hours in the day. I am very lucky as my partner, family and friends are extremely supportive and help out where they can.
What does the future of Tom Lane look like?
My plan is to keep growing the jumper collections. I have so many ideas of different styles and colours that I want to try!
Have you got any advice for other business owners/startup brands?
My advice would be to go for it – know your customer, and also to product test everything to ensure the best quality.
Here are a few of my personal favourites…