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Interview with Geraldine, Tidy Books CEO, on Jelf Small Business Blog

Tidy Books has been selected as 'One to Watch 2014', by Jelf Small Business.  Read on to discover more about what Geraldine and the Tidy Books' team are planning this year.

JSB - What does Tidy Books do?

Geraldine - Tidy Books makes award-winning, innovative and eco-friendly storage and bookcases that get kids reading!  They are a favourite with parents and are sold via John Lewis and other major retailers in the UK, as well as our own direct ecommerce site. Tidy Books' designs are scalable for international growth, and our business model has enabled us to make inroads into the US, Australia and Europe with plans for further expansion in 2014!

JSB - How did you come up with the idea?

Geraldine - In 2004 I was looking for a bookcase for my daughter Adele, then aged three. I discovered that the bookcase I wanted didn’t exist. All the kids’ bookcases in the shops were really bookcases for adults, dressed up for children: they show the spines of books, and only work if the books are the same size – like most books for adults.

So I made the first Tidy Books bookcase for my daughter. The bookcase displays books' front covers which enables young children to choose books independently. My invention revolutionised kids' bookcases, making books accessible for even the smallest child and promoting a love of books in a fun and natural way.

Friends and family wanted a bookcase too, and the Tidy books business was born. The business started from my violin workshop with just £500 and a small advert in a parenting magazine, and the response was positive: I couldn't make bookcases fast enough! I had struck a chord, and had a business to grow.

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JSB - Are there any local or national schemes that have helped you get your project off the ground?

Geraldine - During the first years of the business, I worked pretty much without outside help, learning and developing step-by-step. In the last few years, help has come along which has had a big impact on the business. The main examples are: I was selected to join the prestigious Goldman Sachs and UCL business development programme; 10,000 Small Businesses in May 2013. It was a brilliant way to connect with other inspiring small business leaders, business minds and the learning has helped shape my plans for the business in 2014.

The British Library Business Seminars have been an invaluable resource for business information and advice. In addition, we’ve been helped by the European Regional Development Fund, winning an award for Innovation in 2012.

JSB - How was 2013 for you?

Geraldine - 2013 was the year that we put the foundations in for Tidy Books faster growth strategy. We had already created the building blocks: a scalable design, an excellent stock-forecasting system and a low-cost replicable marketing model in 2012. Last year, we began the search for investment and found it! We have successfully raised equity via crowdfunding website Crowdcubeand have overfunded by 149 per cent so far! We are very excited that so many others share our belief in the potential that Tidy Books has for global expansion.

JSB - What are your hopes for 2014?

Geraldine - 2014 is when Tidy Books goes global! We will be working hard to make the company’s expansion into Germany, France and the US a success. We’ve put plans in place to reach our markets, and there are some new product ideas in the pipeline too!

Tidy Books are part of Jelf's Ones to Watch 2014 Series this year.  Visit Jelf's blog to see who else is One to Watch in 2014.

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