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How Joseph Joseph became a household name in designer homeware

The twin brothers behind quirky homeware brand Joseph Joseph have built a business model centred on innovation and practicality.

“Invention is very much a part of what we do,” says Richard Joseph, one half of the sibling duo that heads up homeware designer Joseph Joseph. “We have that running through our veins.”

Known internationally for their distinctive, brightly coloured kitchen utensils, Mr Joseph and his twin brother Antony owe their success to creating practical, stylish products with an innovative edge. Arguably, this practical, forward-thinking mentality has also helped their business to thrive.

“I think I've always had a desire to be an entrepreneur,” he says. “I've always wanted to work for myself and be the master of my own destiny. Starting and running your own business is immensely rewarding.”

Success didn’t happen overnight, however, and Mr Joseph describes their early days as entrepreneurs as a bit “hit and miss”.

When they decided to focus their product range, though, the business became more efficient and started to grow. “We should have focused right from the start,” he admits. “We know now it’s better to be good at one thing – better than anybody else – and make a success out of that.”

Learning curve

That wasn’t the only challenge that the Joseph twins faced; deciding how to build their business was important too. “When we were starting out, I expected it to be hard work and I knew it would require a lot of persistence,” says Mr Joseph. “Those two things didn’t come as a surprise. What’s been a real learning curve, though, is working out how to manage people and hire the right talent – particularly as the business grows.”

The Joseph twins have also been careful to play to their own strengths. “Both my brother Antony and I are product designers,” says Mr Joseph, “but we decided that Antony should focus on design, and I should focus on execution.

“I am more interested in the whole product journey, working with wholesalers to get it onto the shelves to get people to buy it – so my role focuses more on that commercial side.

“Of course, our products are the DNA of our business, so although we lead these different areas, we’re still joined at the hip when it comes to business strategy and direction.”

You won’t find a Joseph Joseph store on the high street; instead, the business sells its products online and direct to wholesalers. “Instead of opening a store on a high street why not spend that money trying to find a big idea?” Mr Joseph says. “That is the bit we love.”

People power

To anyone hoping to design and launch their own new products, Mr Joseph says: “Learn from what consumers are thinking. Today you can read online reviews of a product within hours of it launching and get a feel for how it’s being perceived. From there, you can start to tighten and refine your idea straight away.”

Running a business comes with a lot of pressure and responsibility, says Mr Joseph, “but surrounding yourself with a great team helps enormously. It’s hard to believe that 15 years ago it was just the two of us sitting round one desk.

“We’ve made some mistakes along the way but we have no regrets,” he adds. “I think the journey is the really enjoyable part.”

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