Headquarter In: London
Founded in Year: 2017
Employees Headcount: 2
Your Tagline/Quote: “Feels amazing; feel amazing”
In this interview, Nancy Zeffman, the Co-founder of Cucumber Clothing takes us through an interesting journey with his company.
Q. Brief us about the CEO/Founder of the company.
Nancy co-founded Cucumber Clothing with Eileen Willett in September 2017. With their backgrounds in advertising (Saatchi & Saatchi) and fashion (Nicole Fahri) respectively, they felt well placed to launch a fashion brand that addressed all the concerns they couldn’t find in their everyday clothes. Cucumber takes the latest performance technical fabrics to make every day luxury pieces for busy women that require minimal care. Sustainability has been at the brand’s core since inception with everything produced within a 5-mile radius. The duo regularly strive to look at ways of reducing their carbon footprint and believe that the best way is to be fully transparent about each process.
Q. Being a successful Business leader, what difficulties and challenges do you face? What keeps you motivated?
Launching a brand (on a shoe-string budget) and setting up a website are one thing; driving traffic to it is quite another and this is clearly a major daily challenge for us. We have had to really put ourselves out there and shout about our brand to anyone who will listen. So far, we have not paid for any advertising or PR and I think that we have had media coverage for the simple fact that we have an interesting story to tell. We are, however, about to dip our toe into the world of PR. There is only so much we can do without outside professional help.
What has really kept us motivated, particularly in these challenging Covid times, is the feedback we get from our customers. We have a very engaged customer base and their comments and the fact that we still have many customers repeat purchasing from since our launch over three years ago, makes us realise that we are filling a gap in the market.
Q. Could you please share your noted milestones, accomplishments throughout your journey so far along with company highlights and achievements under your leadership.
Our journey so far has been both crazy and amazing. It has been an incredibly uplifting and challenging journey with a huge amount of bonuses. We’ve had to work super hard but the payoff has been wonderful, especially in the form of all the brilliant people we have met along the way and all the kindness and generosity of spirit that has been shown to us as newbie entrepreneurs.
Cucumber is only just over three years old. Even in this short time, I think the fashion world has changed. How things are made as well as from what are more and more important to the customer as they realise that we cannot expect the world to tolerate so much waste. Making anything leaves a carbon footprint, but we try to make ours as slight as possible. Once our fabric arrives in the UK (nothing like the high performance technical fabrics we use are made in the UK), we design, grade, manufacture and warehouse all within a 5-mile radius of our London base. We also source all our extras and trims, as well as our recycled packaging in England. I think this is something more and more companies, not just fashion houses, are looking at and we are proud that this has been built into our DNA from the very start. I think this has been our biggest accomplishment. It is much easier to take the same well worn road that every company takes, especially at the beginning, but we have always wanted to do things our own way and be true to what we believe in. Often it is a harder and more complicated route, but well worth it in the end. There is great satisfaction in knowing your supply chain, knowing all the people who make up your products and having a relationship that can be built on as the brand grows and as we strive to continually improve our working practices with every new collection.
We are also very proud that from the start we have supported a variety of women-led charities and social enterprises. This is no small feat for a new start-up.
Q. Please tell us about the business model you follow and the services you provide that makes the brand unique in the mid of cut throat competition.
Our brand is a fabric–led, solutions based brand. Our USP allows us to easily and clearly differentiate ourselves from others in the fashion landscape. We also are and have been from the start, very keen on making sure our company works on being as sustainable and responsible as possible. We know we are not perfect, but are trying all the time to get better, not just through use of our fabrics, but also in our local production, plastic free chain (we use 100% vegetable starch bags) and commitment to ‘slow fashion’
Clothes should do more than just dress a body. Our clothes breathe, they cool, they stretch but don’t crease; they move with your body; they are easy to care for and are made locally, ethically, and sustainably. Our all-in–one style was created to fit seamlessly into every woman’s wardrobe – dress up, dress down, sleep, stretch, work, train, travel. Cucumber is effortless dressing that keeps you feeling fresh 24/7.
Q. Please share the most memorable and remarkable moment of your life.
At the risk of sounding predictable, as a mother I would have to say that my children are my greatest achievement. They are all in their 20s now, forging their own lives and independent. That is all you can ask for as a parent.
Q. Where do you see yourself and the company in future? Or, what is your goal to mark the uniqueness in future?
We have been expanding into luxury spas around the UK and have also been involved in various pop-up events which have worked very well. Despite the uncertain situation due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we believe we can build on our existing wholesale customer base. We are also expanding overseas and are stocked in a sustainable concept store in Amsterdam, as well as a French on-line store.
We are hoping to grow in this area, whilst also constantly reviewing and upgrading our website to offer a fantastic shopping experience online.
We hope to be established as the premier fabric–led fashion brand for women in the UK; will have a firm foothold in countries where we have already started to make in-roads, namely the US, Australasia, South Africa and the Middle East.
Q. Advise for the budding women in tech who are trying to embark in the same field.
I think that to launch a brand takes three main characteristics: determination – if you want to go for something, you have to give it your all and see it through; organization– there is always so much to do and not all of it can be done at once; which leads me onto prioritizing– and this means in a personal capacity too. You have to learn to priorities yourself sometimes so that the business can be supported by two mentally and physically fit and happy co-founders
Q. What is the one thing that is acting as your motivational tool? Or, who is your role model and how the person inspires and motivates you?
I’d have to say that what keeps me going is my amazing Co-Founder Eileen Willett. I honestly couldn’t have taken this journey on my own and I truly admire people who do. It is so important as an entrepreneur to have someone to build you back up on a bad day and someone who truly understands the roller coaster journey of launching a new brand. We have complementary skills and characters which also really help on a practical level. Her optimism and creative skills have got us where we are today and hopefully will take us to the next level!