Julia Hunter, who started her Oily Rag business two years ago as a side line, pitched her ideas for the cheerful cushions, waterproof bunting and tablecloths to John Lewis after entering a PitchUp competition run by national enterprise campaign StartUp Britain.
Julia, mum to Henry, 12, Rupert, nine, and six-year-old Mabel, came up with the idea of waterproof cushions when she was desperate to escape to the garden for five minutes peace. She said: “I wanted some cushions that I could just leave outside on my tatty garden bench the whole time, so whenever I had a moment for a sneaky coffee in the garden, I didn’t have to get the cushions out, and then remember to put them away! The idea was to make my hard outdoor bench as comfortable and inviting as my indoor sofa and to bring some colour into my garden, when it was drab and grey.
Julia never thought when she gave up her job to be a mum that running a successful business would be possible so quickly. She has now got her products stocked ready for the spring/summer market and is also working on an exclusive collection for John Lewis for 2014.
Julia is the first of the PitchUp candidates to see her products in store in Oxford Street, Milton Keynes, with other stores expected to follow suit this month. The launch of Oily Rag into the retailer’s flagship Oxford Street store coincides with the latest round of the campaign’s PitchUp competition, which will see another 12 British start-ups pitching their products to John Lewis buyers in April.
If you have a great product you’d like to enter you have until midnight on the 10th of March to apply online to be in with a chance of being included in the pitching event in April.