How many of us have turned to the internet to desperately search for a last-minute gift for a loved one or friend?
With services such as Amazon Prime offering next day delivery on items, online retailers have long been the go-to place for such things.
One company in Caerphilly has taken the internet retailing revolution one step further by offering personalised gifts at speed.
Launched just six years ago, Dust and Things has grown from a standing start to a company with a £2.4 million turnover.
Its growth has been nothing short of phenomenal and it now employs a team of 31 at its base on the Western Industrial Estate.
Using a fleet of eight state-of-the-art laser engravers, costing around £20,000 each, the company can personalise items such as photo frames, gift boxes, cheese boards, and even wallets, in quick turnaround to offer next day delivery for customers.
The business was founded by Mike Chamberlain and Sian-Louise Thomas in 2013.
Sian-Louise explained: “I was at university when I was asked to do somebody’s wedding stationery. I had always been ‘crafty’ and loved it and thought how can I do this all the time.”
Mike was working at a finance company in Bridgend at the time and was feeling “unfulfilled” and together they decided to go into business – starting off at wedding fairs.
The duo then decided to invest in a laser engraver and then decided to focus on gift personalisation.
Mike said: “It feels like only yesterday that Sian-Louise was buried under assignments in university and I was working 9am to 9pm for a finance company. We both craved a more creative outlet.
“For as long as I’ve known Sian-Louise she’s always dedicated time to hand-making things for her friends, things that her friends had never even asked for usually, things that would arrive in the post unannounced and be swiftly displayed on the fridge or mantlepiece as a reminder of the warmth they felt when received.
“Our friends have learned that if you need something hand-made and personal, you go to Sian-Louise.
“One late night, I found myself helping to design and make a friend’s wedding invitations. “Whilst cutting and gluing we fantasised about changing the guest bedroom into a studio, buying a fancy laser engraver and spending our days creating and sourcing great products that would end up sat in peoples homes for years to come.”
The early days was a case of getting family members to help out with the ever-growing number of daily orders.
Mike’s cousin, Ryan, was one of those early helpers and is now the company’s commercial director.
He said: “By selling through channels such as Amazon, we instantly have access to so many customers. Amazon accounts for 30% of our trade – it has been huge for us.”
While the power of the internet has obviously been a key factor for growth, the company has said the way it treats its employees has also paid dividends.
There is a real focus on staff wellbeing and mental health.
Sian-Louise’s position in the company is Chief of Heart Officer and her role is to “keep everybody happy”.
As well as this, the company also operates a charitable fund where staff can choose a cause to benefit.
Oh, and there’s a slide from the staff kitchen to the factory floor.