Any other business
With a little help from my mum: Tangle Teezer's Shaun Pulfrey recounts his journey
4 min read
14 March 2015
While launching a new business, entrepreneurs need all the help and support they can muster. Shaun Pulfrey spent four years developing the Tangle Teezer business to make it the success it is today – selling in over 65 countries and turning over £20m. It was whilst untangling this journey that Pulfrey turned to his mum for guidance, support and advice.
On Mother’s Day we all celebrate our mums for a million reasons, they are no doubt the unsung heroes in our lives. I have a particularly important reason to thank my Mum, Wendy, as she has been my pillar of support and my second pair of hands throughout the initial stage of my Tangle Teezer journey. I definitely would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for the support of my wonderful Mum.
I was working as a hair colour technician when I came up with the idea for the Tangle Teezer. Struck with a light-bulb moment, my Mum stuck by my side even as I invested all of my savings and re-mortgaged my flat to continue with what, back then, seemed like just a crazy idea.
Throughout those early years, my Mum would travel from Grimsby, her home town, to my flat in Brixton where I had started running the business from. Staying for two weeks at a time, she would help me assemble Tangle Teezers, build boxes and package them up for shipping. We used to sit in front of Coronation Street as a team, and when our thumbs would become sore from clipping together the brushes, we would swap tasks.
As well as logistics, we both took it in turns to work as a sales assistant at that time. In fact, it was whilst I was out on appointments that my Mum would get chatting to potential customers on the phone taking orders from new clients when I just didn’t have the time.
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In 2007, when I stood up in front of the panel at Dragons’ Den, the strength my Mum gave me was unwavering. Through twists and turns of the Tangle Teezer journey, she has always been by my side rooting for me. Also, my Mum is practical and a hard worker, never giving up in the face of adversity and I think we can all learn from her and approach business with the same positivity.
It was actually after the Dragons’ Den show aired that my phone started ringing off the hook. Suddenly, over 2,000 orders came flooding in from the UK and from Holland, where the show had also aired. Things began rolling very quickly and, of course, my Mum was there to support me.
Now more than 17m Tangle Teezers have been purchased worldwide, and we continue to grow having just added China to the list of countries we export to. I’ve built up a 20 strong team who all feel like a family now too. But thinking about the very early years, my mum was the one who was always there for me. I am so grateful for her help and support throughout the journey we’ve been on, and when Tangle Teezer won its first Queen’s Award, my Mum was right by my side at Buckingham Palace.
Shaun Pulfrey is also a Business is GREAT Britain ambassador, a programme which provides business support to entrepreneurs in the UK.