As part of the Prime Warden’s Year of Entrepreneurship, we will be showcasing entrepreneurs from within our Company on a monthly basis.
Nikki Newcombe, Bliss of London is the first one.
Nikki founded her company Bliss of London in 2011, having had a passion for horses all her life, including competing. She still competes now alongside running her business, but to a lesser extent than in the past, as running a successful business employing 26 people keeps her busy.
Nikki has worked in the equestrian trade since 1995, starting with sales roles at Fieldhouse, Westgate EFI and Black Country Saddles, before setting up Bliss of London in 2011. During these years, she gained invaluable equestrian trade experience and her understanding of the market enabled her to spot a niche for high-end English made saddles. At that time the market was dominated by off-the-shelf French saddles. While these were high quality, they didn’t take horse welfare into account as much as Nikki would have liked. So, using the experience from her previous jobs in the equestrian trade, Bliss of London was born, and her journey developing saddles for the high-end market began.
Luckily Nikki had someone to provide start-up finance. Starting in a tiny room with one saddler, the first 12 months involved the two of them; designing saddles, creating prototypes and testing them out. Targeting the business to business market, she had to approach saddle fitters to take on the selling of her saddles. Taking a huge leap of faith, having witnessed a gap in the market, Nikki also launched her saddles in America where the potential market volume was much larger than the UK.
By exhibiting at the Kentucky 3 day event in America, people began to hear of her brand. Initially people would walk past her stand, but over the years as she continued to go, more and more people would visit the stand, saying, “I’ve heard of your company and saddles.” Nikki was fortunate that customers in the States and elsewhere graduated to her brand. Targeting the business to business market meant that saddle fitters could enable customers to test ride Nikki’s saddles. At first the growth started slowly, enabling the start-up business to keep up. Since then growth has been continuous and each week they receive new saddle fitter enquiries as confidence in the brand grows. Buying a Bliss saddle is a large investment with the horse’s welfare being paramount, especially for the owner whose horse is often like extended family.
Nikki with Bliss of London, returned to the show in America this April for the first time post Covid, and there was a great buzz around her stand, where she was inundated with interest and orders.
Nikki’s tips for potential entrepreneurs are:
At this year’s BETA show, Bliss of London has gone on to win The Citation Trade Supplier Award 2023 against stiff competition.
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