When sisters Gigi and Cavanagh Foyle first decided to open their business – in Gigi’s case, this involved giving up her established career in science – it may have seemed like madness. Without any prior marketing or entrepreneurial experience, with nothing but their personal savings, they put their finances and careers on the line to follow their dream: that of running a creative, original, art-centred business, preferably involving neon lights.
As it happens, it turns out that this was the best decision they could’ve made. After two years of research and careful planning, Gigi and Cavanagh founded bag&bones – the first UK company to specialise solely in LED neon lighting for the private customer.
The Foyle sisters had an ace up their sleeves – or rather, three aces: their neon lights are different to conventional neon lighting in three key ways. First of all, they’re made using LEDs and flexible tubing – making them cheaper, more shatter-resistant, and more sustainable. Secondly, bag&bones takes the form and style of a neon art label rather than an industrial or overly commercial store – the company essentially offers creative designs turned into neon form, rather than selling clichéd replicas of tacky bar signs. Last but not least, Gigi and Cavanagh have done an incredible job on their social media marketing. Taking advantage of Instagram in particular, they’ve created a well-defined, rounded, stylish brand that created a real buzz in the interior design community and quickly attracted lots of high-end customers.
‘Quickly’ is used here in the literal sense: Alexander McQueen, Grazia Magazine and the Wilderness Festival numbered among bag&bones clients after only five months of operation. Now, after less than four years since the founding of the company, bag&bones products are stocked by Harrods, Liberty, and Harvey Nichols. Oh, and next time you’re in River Island or John Lewis, look out for cool-looking neon signs – chances are they were provided by bag&bones, too.
Gigi and Cavanagh have successfully made something you’d traditionally associate with high cost and low practicality into a product that anyone can buy and have in their home. Naturally, prices vary between products – usually depending on the size and complexity of the design – but you can still pick up a neon of your very own for less than £40. If you’re prepared to splash out, the company also offers a custom design service. Of course, this costs a bit extra – though it still calculates much cheaper than if you were to order a custom conventional (gas-based) neon sign.
Let’s face it – to go from launch to being stocked by the likes of Harrods, you really have to be an exceptional entrepreneur with the right product, at the right time. But, as this success story proves, passion, drive, and a fair dose of courage are essential ingredients, too. The spirit of giving back and helping others is just as important – bag&bones is committed to an incredible amount of charitable donations, including passing 100% of the profits from the sale of certain products to UK charities.