Home of stylish and convenient independent lifestyle products that enhance independence and enrich lives.
In 2011 I was contemplating an uncertain future. I had been made redundant for a seemingly glamourous job in the music industry and was unsure of my next move. To stay busy, I helped my disabled friend individually stitch a series of stylish display wallets designed for the disabled parking permit. At the same time I fell in love with an Akita puppy, who I decided to keep as I worked from home. I named him Bodhi.
Before Blue Badge Co the only other blue badge wallets on the market looked like many other disability products – clinical, dull and surprisingly difficult to use. We recognised a gap in the market for practical and appealing solutions for simple day-to-day problems, with bright, modern packaging, that said more about style than disability.
Armed with e-commerce and online marketing skills, I executed the launch of the products. By developing the sales channels, I began selling my handmade products online and although they were moderately successful, it wasn’t until 2013 when our big break came.
A healthcare buyer for Boots spotted our products at a trade exhibition and placed an order for 10,000 wallets – dwarfing the 8,000 the we had made in its previous two years. It was 10 seconds of elation, and then the realisation that now the really hard work starts. This meant I had to get everyone I knew, including my mum, to help sew, iron, pick, pack and deliver this massive order. The first products arrived on Boots shelves in late 2013 and have been really successful.
In August 2015 I appeared on BBC Two’s Dragon’s Den where my ten-minute appearance triggered two months’ worth of orders in 24 hours. Unwilling to give up our UK manufacturing, I caused a stir when I walked away from three offers of investment. Refusing to take Touker Suleyman’s offer, or his advice to take the manufacturing overseas to cut costs, I upheld my belief in high quality UK made products.
It proved a wise decision! Staff numbers rocketed, our workspace grew, and our products stocked by major retailers. Blue Badge Co became a fast growing, dynamic young company with a string of awards to its name
Since I started the company more than 200,000 of the wallets have been sold across the UK and we have expanded the range to include mobility, homewares and dressing aids with collaborations and designs by William Morris.
We were among the first businesses to have identified the growing demand for stylish, design-led independent living products and travel aids. Disabled consumers now making up a fifth of the UK population – nearly 12 million people who, along with their households, have a spending power of more than £200bn. People always tell me I work in a niche market, one giant niche if you ask me!
Setting up and running a business is really difficult, and no-one should be under the illusion that it isn't. However it has also brought me a huge amount of pride and joy. Whenever I feel low or have doubts, all I have to do is read some of our customer feedback. It assures me that we are contributing to brightening up people's lives and helping improve wellbeing and accessibility, pioneering choice and control.
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I hope you enjoy browsing and using our products as much we love making them.