Woman turned down bank loan at 22 starts fashion business from the kitchen table – three years later, she’s close to making her first million
Fashion entrepreneur Ainsleigh-Paige Rigby didn’t let being pushed back for a bank loan at age 22 keep her from launching her own Business from her kitchen table – and now she’s about to sell her first million at the age of 26.
Ainsleigh first came up with the idea of creating a range of swimwear after struggling to find the styles she wanted online or on the streets in 2018.
She designed everything herself, even the company’s website, after researching how to do it on the internet.
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It was a way to save on costs after she was denied a bank loan to be a ‘high risk’ fashion startup – so she used her savings of £ 10,000 and borrowed cards credit to start the business instead.
Her first Beach Doll collection was so successful that it quickly expanded into a full line of dresses, coats, accessories and loungewear, which is now the online brand Wander Doll.
During the lockdown, she experienced a huge boom – having designed a line of loungewear that people working from home couldn’t get enough of.
Turnover for 2020 was in six figures, with the company expected to make its first £ 1million in 2021.
Ainsleigh, of Higher Broughton, Salford, says: “My friends thought I was crazy at first, but I researched everything, made my own designs and literally searched all over the internet for the best suppliers.
“I couldn’t get a bank loan so I used my own savings and borrowed from credit cards, it was completely self-funded.
“I started out with 1600 bikinis in stock – people thought I was crazy, but on day one I sold 60 and had to reorder within month one.
“I was just that young girl with a big dream as cheesy as it sounds – and somehow it worked.”
Ainsleigh created her own Instagram page and recruited her creative friends to help her with the brand’s first fashion shoots.
She says, “I have a group of close friends and a lot of them are influencers or own businesses themselves. [including Manchester fashion bloggers Sylvija, Emma Milton and Georgia and Poppy Bayliss]. With them, they posted photos bearing the mark, it escalated very quickly. “
Ainsleigh was still working full time when she started Beach Doll, but the fashion industry continued to grow – and in the winter of 2018 it became crucial to the next step of the business.
She said, “When winter came I still had a desk job, but they told me it was one or the other with my own business, so I thought I had to just do this job and took the plunge.
“I released a collection called Winter Doll, which is based on faux fur jackets, and that’s what really cemented the brand – we were so busy with orders.
“At that time, I was still sorting all the orders from my kitchen which was completely filled with faux fur and wrapping paper! “
Things really took off when Ainsleigh launched her second swimwear collection for 2019 – and designed her best-selling Patcha bikini.
“I designed it with a high waist bottom, almost like sucking pants, in hot pink and white. I showed it to my mom and she hated it at first!
“But it ended up being the best-selling thing I’ve ever made.
“New moms texted me thanking me for designing a bikini that made me feel so good, they said I opened doors to make them feel good.
“For me that’s what it is about, I want to make swimwear and clothes that people feel good in.”
The summer was so successful that Ainsleigh decided to reinvest her profits to rename and expand the business to Wander Doll – to incorporate a full line of clothing rather than the seasonal Beach and Winter Doll collections.
Launched as the Wander Doll in September 2019, the new line includes sophisticated dresses and a range of vegan leather clothing and apparel, as well as the ever popular loungewear line.
Ainsleigh also credits her boyfriend, Joe Sutherland, with goading her into the business – he’s now also on board as a partner.
She said, “He’s the person who supports me the most, from the start he would stay awake all night preparing packages for me.”
“He also owns his own business, so I think it helps that we’re both so motivated.
“We were both born and raised in Salford and from the working class and we know how to work hard.”
The brand is doing so well that it was able to move to larger offices in Worsley, where Wander Doll has her own photo studio for fashion shoots.
And while there is a lot of competition in the online fashion world, Ainsleigh thinks what sets her apart is that she does NOT try to compete with fast fashion, but instead focuses on quality parts.
She says, “I create must-have pieces that people can wear over and over again. I don’t want to create things that people throw away.
Ainsleigh, who studied acting at the University of Salford, credits his mother with inspiration for working so hard.
She says, “I’m not from a business background. My mom had me very young, when she was only 16 – and always worked so hard and encouraged me to go for my degree and work hard too.
“From a young girl, I always wanted to do something on my own, I always liked fashion and I like to learn.
“Even when it came to building my website, I hate technology, but when I got a quote for how much it would cost, I went on the internet and learned how to build my own website.”
She adds: “I feel so lucky and lucky, but I don’t stop – I work seven days a week, I sacrificed my 20 years for it, but my mom says it will be worth it in the end. . “
And what’s the next step for the brand?
Ainsleigh says, “To grow taller, taller taller! Apparel is extremely competitive, but we hope to continue to grow organically because we are so passionate and love what we do.
“Literally, as soon as we launch a new collection, it is now sold out, so the challenge is to try to meet the demand.
“Wander Doll is clothing designed to be worn by all women and to make them feel their best.
“It’s still a long way from where I want to be, but it’s so exciting, it’s literally passed from the kitchen table and now we’re in this huge warehouse.”
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