The Vanacci team

How I started Vanacci

James Whitfield, co-founder and managing director of Vanacci, gives us an insight into how he brought his innovative products to market.

What is it the company does?

Established in 2014, Vanacci designs and manufactures a range of innovative fragrance-infused men’s accessories from our base in Leeds.

The firm injects a fresh and modern feel into fashion accessories, combining striking appearances with practical design.

Consisting of a tight-knit team of four designers, engineers and fashion professionals, I head up the company alongside fellow co-founders, sales director, Ryan Ward and creative director, Sean Sykes.

Our product offering includes watches, wallets, bracelets, pendants, cufflinks, with new ranges being released every few months.

With retailers and wholesalers in Europe, Singapore, China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, we also have firm plans to dominate the US market over the next few years.

What inspired you to start-up?

Having worked in the design industry for 10 years, my co-founders and I decided to take the plunge and set-up on our own.

Working to a brief in the design industry can often be frustrating - the end product does not always look like the original sketch. Often, elements must be stripped down to accommodate budget and this left us feeling frustrated and unfulfilled.

We opted to taking matters into our own hands and setting up Vanacci allowed us to design and manufacture a product that we were passionate about and that consumers would love.

How did you go about starting up, did you apply for funding or did you self-fund the project? If so, where did you secure funding from?

Vanacci was set-up through the co-founders own investment.

Where do you get advice/support/help?

We are all members of JCI which offer excellent workshops focusing on everything from marketing to public speaking. We also have a business mentor that helps guide our ongoing expansion into new markets.

What has been your biggest challenge so far?

Our first year in business proved challenging; trying to get our products out on time, ramping up production numbers and manually posting stock to customers was very time consuming.

What is your next big target?

We’re due to launch our new range in July.

What is the best and worst thing about being a start-up?

The worst thing is anything could happen, running your own business is certainly not as predictable as being employed. However the freedom of working for ourselves counteracts this, and the ability to make products we’re passionate about and consumers appreciate.

What makes this idea different?

Our products are made from a top-secret recipe – that only the Vanacci team knows! 

Who would be your dream customer?

Terry Crews