South Yorkshire entrepreneur lands investment on Dragon's Den

Claire Gelder received funding on Dragon's Den
Claire Gelder received funding on Dragon's Den
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A South Yorkshire businesswoman has tied up support from two of Britain's leading business tycoons after appearing on Dragon's Den.

Claire Gelder, founder of artisan woolcraft business Wool Couture, secured a joint deal with retail magnate Touker Suleyman and new dragon Tej Lalvani on tonight's show.

The duo have pledged their support to help the Barnsley-based entrepreneur inspire others to take up the pastimes of macrame, knitting, weaving and crochet by giving the historic hobbies a twenty-first century makeover.

Using metre-long knitting needles and giant balls of yarn, Claire has built her business by helping others to master the crafts through her range of bespoke products and DIY kits.

Claire said: "“I was hopeful of receiving one offer in the den but to receive two, and ultimately two new business partners is a significant step for my business.

"Touker’s extensive knowledge of the retail world, coupled with Tej’s understanding of how to build and grow online businesses will help us unleash the potential of Wool Couture, enabling new lines to be developed.

The former NHS Director launched her business less than two years ago after realising that she had knitted more scarves than she could possibly wear.

Determined to share her love of knitting with others, she decided to sell some of her designs on craft website ETSY where she quickly started pulling in orders from the hobby she first fell in love with aged just eight years old.

As her business began to grow, Claire called upon help from Launchpad: a free-to-access business support programme part funded by the European Regional Development Fund which delivers free business advice and support to new business owners and entrepreneurs across the Sheffield City Region.

Claire added: "Ultimately, I want to encourage more people to take up the hobby which has given me so much pleasure.

"From the outset, I’ve used my business to help people exercise their creativity, but activities like knitting can also be used to improve mental wellbeing and having Tej on board, with his background in health and wellbeing to explore this opportunity further is a very exciting prospect.

"The support we’ve received from Launchpad has helped us lay solid foundations for the business and with the Dragons on board, I’m hopeful that the business will grow rapidly, as we target future international growth, particularly in America and China.”

Dragon Touker, best known as the founder of British menswear brand, Hawes & Curtis, said: “Claire presented an excellent, well thought-out pitch during her time in the den and I was thoroughly impressed with the way her passion, knowledge and dedications, which runs through every aspect of her business.

"Her giant wool creations are truly unique and a great example of British innovation which builds on the legacy left by Yorkshire’s textile industry.

"I’ve spent more than 40 years working in the clothing manufacturing industry and felt I was well placed to help Claire achieve her future growth ambitions.”