Dragons Den

Well, I have had a few requests to tell my story in detail. I am sure you know that I have recently launched a unique, completely new product called  the Interior Design Toolkit. It is the world’s first interior design card game and it helps people discover their personal interior style and thereby enable them to make bolder and more cohesive decorating decisions. I am thrilled with it and absolutely convinced that it is really useful!In my job as a stylist I see so many potential homes that do not make it into the pages of a magazine because they are not quite ready. Using my toolkit will help you to make crucial decisions at every stage and enable you to inject the drama and atmosphere you want into your home.I was motivated to appear on Dragon’s Den because I want the toolkit to be a household name. I would have loved to received investment, of course, but this was not my priority, really I just wanted the exposure. My husband was actually quite anxious about us receiving an investment and complicating our life – we would have been split further between our work together, creating features for interiors magazines and developing the game, with a dragon on board and then having to share our profits with them, he was not feeling it!The application process is a mixture of ‘very demanding’ and ‘very supportive’, it was honestly a bit like a crash course in business. My own business training basically consists of teacher training and working in a variety of secondary schools, mainly in Glasgow. Quite useful actually: if you learn one thing from being a teacher it is that preparation is everything. Our mantra at Douglas Gibb Photography is ‘Fail to prepare, Prepare to Fail.’ Definitely a transferable skill!Thanks to my experience as a teacher and working with my husband for the last 20 years, I have to say that I was extremely prepared for my appearance in the den. I had also learnt some new things specifically: the difference between gross and net profit and the significance of VAT to retailers, for instance. Some of you reading this might feel this was a bit late in the day, but actually details like that are not particularly useful for art teachers or interiors journalists, so I had never bothered – but I sure as hell know them now!

Losing my way in Dragon’s Den, but finding my style

I entered the den bounding with enthusiasm, however, I quickly realised that the dragons did not really share it. For some reason, they resisted understanding the very simple premise of the game. Exchanging incredulous looks, they struggled with the straightforward scoring system, which requires you to add up a few single figures. I have friends who play the toolkit with their children and their five year olds get it – maybe my friends children are destined for great heights!Peter Jones had no idea what the word ‘Boho’ meant and Tej Lalvani was completely lost at the word ‘Retro’! Good humour ruled though, my telling Peter Jones to ‘be patient’ when he realise that I  had sold a mere 2 toolkits so far to the US was a definite highlight. My set of giant cards, which I had hoped would help enlighten everyone, was missing from the props.In the end, the dragons all felt that I was simply not ready for their support and investment. They were also concerned at the status of the toolkit as a ‘side hustle’. I have put it together and marketed it in my spare time, as a creative project. I felt they were a bit snobby about this. Douglas and I need to work, we have a successful business, we are not going to give it up – they don’t give up their businesses every time they take on a new project do they? I think it is called expansion!

I never had the chance to explain on #DragonsDen why my game is so useful and relevant despite the amount of material available online, through the likes of Pinterest etc as so much time was taken up with the mechanics of ‘how to play it’.

Looking at and searching for images on a screen is a very remote experience, whereas sorting through the cards in the Toolkit is very involving and starting a physical mood board and adding fabric swatches and wallpaper samples where you can actually feel the textures and see the colours in daylight and evening light is sooooo valuable. ⠀

I truly believe that when you are starting a creative project that you should roll your sleeves up and get stuck in, with paper, scissors and paste, rather than just look at images on a screen, if you want a really personal, self-expressive result that is.

This video explains it in a little more detail.

I still really believe in my product, it is honestly a must-do for anyone tackling a renovation project, large or small. I am looking forward to it to be the house warming gift of choice and a ‘must have’ for interiors lovers all over the world.

You can buy the Interior Design Toolkit here. Subscribers to Great Scottish Indoors get a 10% discount!

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