Telling the truth about SME life today

Julia Gash on the demand for more sophisticated eco-ethical products


Julia Gash

Role and company:

CEO of Bag It Don?t Bin It

Employee numbers:


Growth forecast for the next three years:

£3m by the end 2015.

In under 50 words, what makes your business distinctive in its marketplace:

Bag It Don’t Bin It makes branded, fairly traded, re-usable cloth eco-bags as a cost-effective and sustainable marketing tool for businesses or an on trend fashion accessory for retailers.

Our creative intelligence and high quality printing enables us to meet customers” needs in this growing market.

What’s the big vision for your business?

Now that we have established ourselves in the UK, we are focusing on exporting. We visited New York and Boston earlier this year as part of Santander’s Breakthrough programme, which really helped us make contacts and build relationships in these markets. We plan to set up an office in New York and a factory in New York State within three years to satisfy the growing North American market.

Biggest career setback and what you learned from it:?

The last minute withdrawal of an investment into our business by a large financial institution that got cold feet in Autumn 2008. We were just starting out and desperately needed money. We had a signed agreement and I had already ordered stock in – they reneged and didn?t deliver. I learnt not to count my chickens until they were all hatched.

What makes you mad in business today?

I have an intolerance for sloppy, lazy working. Every day and every job is precious and we cannot take anything for granted.

What will be the biggest change in your market in the next three years?

The demand for more sophisticated eco-ethical products, moving away from eco-bags as a basic promo bag.

Can businesses in your sector/industry access the finance they need to grow” If not, what can be done to improve things?

Not sufficiently. The financial packages out there are often not fully thought through, so it’s a case of patching things up and reacting to circumstances rather than financial planning for the long term. We are just in the process of securing an investment from Santander, which does just this.

How would others describe your leadership style

Has a clear vision and communicates this to her team; can be impatient!

Your biggest personal extravagance

I?m really low maintenance; but it would be travel. I just love travelling and exploring new places.

You’ve got two minutes with the prime minister. Tell him how best to set the UK’s independent, entrepreneurial businesses free to prosper:

Prioritise your support for high growth businesses, at any level and in a big way. Too much aid is watered down and goes through a politically correct tick box system, which means that there is nothing much left in the end for any business. If a company is growing at over 20 per cent and making a profit, then it’s not rocket science to deduce that this is a good horse to back.

It’s the 80/20 rule in business, which they should also apply to supporting entrepreneurial businesses in their growth. If a business is heavily investing in its future, then this will reduce profits but there is still a hefty VAT and PAYE bill to pay each month. Tax credits set against quantifiable investment into the business would be most helpful. As it stands now, there’s little incentive to actually grow, due to the tax constraints on small businesses, which are also picking up the tab for multinational corporations too.

A big problem for young, growing businesses is their inability to pay for high quality management staff due financial restraints. There is also a high number of unemployed, very experienced managers in the country. Subsidise their salary for a year, for employment in young, growing businesses and the results they will bring will bring added value to the company, who would otherwise not be able to afford such an expense.


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