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Starting a business, my story – Simon Caulton, Ones Trainers

How do you go about starting a business and what are the important business lessons to learn? Simon Caulton, founder of fashion start-up Ones Trainers and STEAMhouse Business Incubator member shares his experiences in this blog post.
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Profile photo of Simon Caulton - Owner & Founder at Ones Leisure Trainers

Starting a business, my story – Simon Caulton, Ones Trainers

How do you go about starting a business and what are the important business lessons to learn? Simon Caulton, founder of fashion start-up Ones Trainers and STEAMhouse Business Incubator member shares his experiences in this blog post.
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Profile photo of Simon Caulton - Owner & Founder at Ones Leisure Trainers

Hi Simon, can you tell me about your business?

My business is called Ones, we make unisex leisurewear trainers. I went through pain for a purpose and I am building a brand based on my background and story.

The ‘Why’ I created the business is a big part of the story and journey, the trainers themselves are essentially the end result.

What’s the backstory to your business?

In 2017 I was hit with a massive tsunami when my seven month old daughter was diagnosed with Leukaemia. This was a huge life changing experience for myself and partner and we both stepped away from our jobs.

 My daughter went on to have over two and half years’ worth of treatment and all the struggles we went through taught me how to take one step at a time, the message behind my brand.

I remember clearly – I’m sitting on the edge of the bed, I’m just about go to the hospital. I have no idea what the day was going to hold, everything could change in a day.

 I dug down and put my shoes on, but I just wanted a comfortable pair of shoes, to take a depth breath, take a step and be able to walk to the hospital – that was my one step journey.

Photo of a pair of One Leisure Trainers

How did this influence your product development?

 I am now trying to give people the opportunity to make their own one step journey, no matter what that journey may be and make it as comfortable as possible. My RMC range, named after the three rooms stayed in at the Ronald McDonald House, Broughton, Cooksley and Cantlow is a simplistic, lightweight, everyday leisure trainer designed to take you on your journey.

Why did you get involved with STEAMhouse Incubator? 

Starting your own business is a lonely place; for me, it was even lonelier as I was still caring for my daughter. I didn’t have anyone to bounce business ideas off and there was only so much I knew about starting a business and I sometimes felt out of my depth.

When you are a start-up, funds are very low and when I was reaching out for help people always wanted to be paid and it was often disheartening. I was looking for real guidance and support and came across STEAMhouse Business Incubator.

What challenges if any, have you faced during Covid and how has the Business Incubator supported you? 

Covid massively impacted my business as I was due to launch my products last year. Due to the pandemic, I had to postpone as my suppliers were based in China. I initially thought the launch would be held back a few weeks but it ended up being much longer.

I then for multiple reasons, was unable to continue to work with the supplier which was very challenging, but Richard and Jennine (STEAMhouse Business Incubator programme Manager and Officer) offered fantastic support.

Richard and I have regular one to one’s every couple of weeks and he was a great soundboard when I lost my supplier – he knew how to calm the situation down and has put me in touch with good contacts.

What drew you to STEAMhouse Business Incubator?

Besides this, and before the Business Incubator closed due to Covid the facility and its space blew me away. As a start-up business, those facilities anywhere else would be way out of your reach finically. When I used the office it gave me a sense of professionalism when hosting meetings and a ‘home’ for the business. I’m very excited about the re-opening.

During Covid, the support continued and there have been webinars every week covering all aspects of business which have been brilliant. There was also a constant stream of communication which made me still feel connected despite the closure.

Where are you now with the business? What growth have you have had since starting and becoming an Incubator client? 

I have personally grown, I have come out of lockdown far more motivated and aware in certain areas where I was once out of my comfort zone.

 My biggest step with the business now is to focus on marketing and awareness as I prepare for my new product launch later this year. I have purposely chosen STEAMhouse Incubators online workshops centred on marketing to help me and I am much more confident in this area.

Because of the postponement of my launch last year I have been able to look at my products in more detail and I am happy to say with my new launch coming up Ones products now include sustainable materials within the EVA of the sole, which is the most imperishable part of the trainer.

In addition, a percentage of every trainer sold will be donated to Blood Cancer UK and we will continue to work with the Ronald McDonald Charity as we used their services for 224 nights when my daughter was in the hospital.

That’s great news. If you could sum up your experience so far as a STEAMhouse Business Incubator client what would you say?

I have felt supported, I don’t feel so lonely when thinking about making a business decision. The Incubator team has been there on hand and given me motivation and kept me focused. I’ve also met other Incubator clients that I now talk to and there is a sense of family, they have a very similar outlook to mine. You can find out more about Simon’s journey and his Ones Leisure Trainers here and read the original interview on the STEAMhouse website.  

Image of Ones leisure trainers logo

Want to learn more about starting a business and get the tools and support to make it happen?

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