Raishma

Year founded 2013
HQ Location London
Sector Fashion Design
Staff count 4
Turnover £1m
Raishma Islam has created over 2,000 couture and bridal gowns since 1998. In 2013, with the help from the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme-qualifying investment, she entered the ready-to-wear business, creating a range for the premium high street.
www.raishma.co.uk
SEIS funding helped us develop our e-commerce platform giving us a beautiful functional website so we could reach more customers.

Lynn woodward

Non-executive Director

Establishing concessions with big-name retailers such as John Lewis and House of Fraser was a brilliant way to build exposure to the brand.

Raishma Islam

Founder

Designing couture with royal credentials

After working as assistant designer to Princess Diana’s wedding dress designer, Elizabeth Emmanuel, Raishma launched her own brand in 1998. The London-based designer gained prominence in the industry through her unique design aesthetic. Since then, Raishma has dressed celebrities and royalty including Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice.


A fresh brand for existing customers

As her exclusive designs were filling a gap in the market, Raishma built up a loyal customer base over 15 years. With her designs gaining popular demand, Raishma understood the potential of a mass-market range for the high street.

Her expertise and experience as a couturier gave her a point of difference. With her meticulous eye for detail, true craftsmanship and high-quality materials, Raishma created a more accessible ready-to-wear range.


Searching for a business mentor

By the end of 2013 Raishma knew she had the market, the skills and the drive to create a new ready-to-wear label. But as a designer, she had little experience or expertise in the highly competitive world of mainstream retail and wholesale.

As fate would have it, Jenson Solutions and Jenson Funding Partners, strategic and operational advisors to the Jenson SEIS Fund, were on the lookout for small start-ups that would qualify for Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) funding.

“It was the first year of Jenson’s SEIS fund, it had already invested in a number of tech companies, but was on the lookout to have a broad-reaching portfolio,” says Lynn Woodward, non-executive director.


A controlling stake is key

Raishma was clear from the start that retaining a controlling stake in her new company was a top priority, so all fundraising has been done with this in mind.

The SEIS investment allowed the company to build its first e-commerce platform, develop its strategy, and manufacture stock. Raishma’s first ever website went live in 2014. Then a further funding round in 2016 helped the business expand into retail via concessions and wholesale and open a central London store.


From retail to wholesale

The business grew its customer base online and established concessions with big-name retailers such as John Lewis and House of Fraser in 2016. “It was a brilliant way to build exposure to the brand,” says Raishma.

But concessions on their own, cautions Woodward, do not offer the best strategy for the business. Concessions charge a “hefty margin” and tie a lot of cash up in stock, she says.

Wholesale, on the other hand, had the potential to be much more lucrative. A turning point, says Woodward, was signing a wholesale deal with Debenhams in the Middle East.

Right now, if required, the company can fulfil the orders by using a trade finance company that provides the bridging funds to fulfil the order until the client pays.

It’s about finding that perfect partner who can provide capital but also open doors.

Lynn Woodward, Raishma

Open to a new round of funding

Woodward says that this model is working for the current £1m turnover. However, Raishma “definitely wants to further increase online sales and grow the UK and global wholesale business” and this could require another funding round.

The company is looking for potential Enterprise Investment Scheme funding. Woodward says: “It’s about finding that perfect partner who can provide capital but also open doors.”


Key Metrics

3,000

beads used in a collection

300

Metres of fabric in a collection

130%

Turnover growth year on year

Sources of capital
Government Support
  • Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme

Related Stories

Koru Kids
London’s fastest growing childcare company Koru Kids counts the founder of Gumtree as a pre-seed investor and has scaled rapidly to provide over 15,000 hours of childcare every month. Read more...
Rachel Jackson London
In 10 years Rachel Jackson has turned her market stall into a celebrity-endorsed jewellery brand with a £1m turnover, but the demands of a growing company have forced the mum-of-two to constantly re-evaluate her role. Read more...
Matrix APA
Founder and CEO Charlie Bradshaw started his product design and manufacturing business Matrix APA at 19, but over 20 years later he’s come a long way on his human and emotional capital journey, placing team values and cultural fit at the heart of his success. Read more...
Lantum
Founder Melissa Morris set up Lantum with the ambition to help save the NHS £1bn in medical staff recruitment agency fees each year and, after rapid growth, has achieved over £10m of savings to date. Read more...
Cafepod
Early investment from friends and family helped Cafepod enter the lucrative coffee capsule market when Nespresso’s patent expired, and six years on the company’s pods are stocked in every major UK supermarket. Read more...
Re:signal
When Expedia needed to boost site traffic, the company turned to search engine optimisation (SEO) and content agency Re:signal and achieved instant results, thanks to the agency’s focus on investing in top talent. Read more...