The banks would not back us. More fool them

A refusal to grant funding failed to discourage Roberta and Michael Harris from setting up their children’s deodorant business

By Roberta Harris, April 30, 2013
Roberta and Michael Harris

Roberta and Michael Harris

We had a great product but just could not get any investment from the banks – they weren’t interested in us. We knew there was a huge gap in the market.

There were no natural deodorants for children, who are now hitting puberty from the age of nine or 10-years-old. My granddaughter, who is nine, needed a deodorant but we couldn’t find anything on the market that was natural and would still allow her skin to breathe. Aluminium blocks the pores and children still need to sweat. We created a great range of alcohol, aluminium and parabens-free deodorants for eight to 14 year olds.

Finding finance for our Keep It Kind brand was definitely the tough part. There’s nothing that makes you feel so despondent as someone saying you have a good product, but they’re still not willing to back you. It seems harder to find funding for a retail product rather than something like an app.

Eventually we found the £100,000 investment we needed through our accountant’s clients - it really is all about who you know.

The range is now at 500 Boots chemist stores across the UK and Ireland. This year they ordered 36,000 units and have now filed repeat orders — it’s great. But getting Boots interested in our product wasn’t the problem — it was the finance. Banks just aren’t interested in backing businesses at the moment.

One day we’re going to write a really long letter to our bank manager and show him what we achieved. We have a very popular mainstream product because we’ve created something that people really need — it’s more than commerce.

Keep it Kind is our first business. I’m 63 and Michael’s 66 so it’s never too late to start a new phase of life. The last thing I want to do is retire.

Last updated: 1:54pm, April 30 2013