A full-time working dad and part-time working mum are tasting sweet success with their side project, designing and creating custom chocolates and moulds.
James and Hayley Radford, parents to two young boys, are now taking Rad Creates full time and moving the company out of the family kitchen into new premises.
The dynamic duo has more than doubled sales year-on-year and sell products to customers in France, Australia and the USA.
And James, a chartered engineer with more than 17 years’ experience in industry, puts the Pontardawe-based business’ success down to challenging traditional methods of production through digital. He said: “Hayley and I wanted to do something together and I invested in a 3D printer. We explored opportunities and developed ideas and the chocolates and moulds have really taken off.
Using 3D printing to disrupt the market
“The cost of moulds has traditionally been prohibitive to smaller businesses, with other hurdles including minimum orders and upfront fees. So we combined my experience with CAD (computer aided design) and the 3D printer to disrupt the market with smaller businesses now able to access cost-effective moulds.
“More than 90 per cent of sales are through eBay, with the remaining direct orders coming from our website. We’ve done well so far and growth has been completely organic with chocolate and mould sales up 80 per cent for Christmas 2017 compared to the previous year. And surprisingly we sell 40% of our moulds internationally.
Focusing on online marketing to drive sales
“But we will be taking the business full time in April as we want to continue to grow and focus on using the website to drive more direct sales. We have already attended a Superfast Business Wales workshop and had one-to-one support and advice to assist with the marketing including social media. And we’ve since formulated a plan to help us supersede the success we’ve already achieved.
“We will implement e-commerce software Shopify to help us do this. And we understand how important SEO (search engine optimisation) is to help people find the site. So we will learn as much as possible to do it ourselves, and likely look to Superfast Business Wales for support here.”
James constantly seeks way to improve and innovate to expand the business and make it as efficient as possible. He notes: “Because of my background; my passion is design, systems, and production. And this shows with the set up and changes we have made.”
Our business needs to fit around our family life
“For example, we created our own technical programme to speed up the process of designing and creating a bespoke mould. Like most businesses and people, time is crucial for us. As well as being in full-time or part-time work, we are parents and knew that any project we started together had to fit in and around family life. Creating our own programmes saves time and allows us to do that.”
“The family will also be getting their kitchen back! At the minute all the chocolates are made at home but we are finalising details to move the business to dedicated premises. It’s a huge milestone for us and one that will help us achieve our goals going forward. And after that our next step is to expand the offering. We are already exploring ways for customers to upload images onto the website so we can emboss them onto the chocolate products. Now that will be sweet!”