Business is Always Personal for Monifieth PartnershipNeil Hardie
A Monifieth family firm which makes personalised presents feels that the current cost-of-living crisis is having a bigger financial impact than Covid.
Despite the various economic challenges facing the country, MadeAt94 is being positive and is now looking forward to Christmas opportunities and also how to grow next year.
The company designs and manufactures gifts and signs for the home and business-to-business markets.
Kevin and Samantha Matthew started the online venture in 2013.
Kevin, who was previously a secondary school teacher and part-time university lecturer, explained the reasons behind the career change.
He said: “Sam and I are creative and we wanted to design gifts and homeware. Plus it was a better fit into our family bringing up children, rather than the 9-5 job.
“We didn’t ever think about failing. I continued to do supply teaching, whilst we increased sales.
“It took nine months to get the sales up before I left teaching.”
Kevin said the customer base at MadeAt94 is wide – everyone from dog lovers to people getting married.
The Monifieth firm sells mainly in the UK and US.
Dog stair stoppers and wedding selfie frames are among the most popular items.
But Brexit was not good news for MadeAt94.
Kevin said: “We had to stop selling to Europe because the taxes were higher than the value of the goods we were sending.”
He also said the triple hit from Brexit, Covid and then the cost-of-living crisis has been a massive challenge.
“The current cost-of-living crisis has hit harder than Covid in our opinion,” he said. “People are not spending as much and costs are higher.”
As regards expectations for the business for the rest of 2023, Kevin is looking forward to this Christmas with new product lines on offer – and he is hoping for a good sales period.
The entrepreneur spoke about how competitive the online gift market is.
He added: “This is why we always try and come up with new different products and routes to market. Our diversity is what makes us stand out.
“We spotted the fact that online was becoming more difficult, so we changed tactics and added different offerings such as our light-up LED letter-hiring service.
“We are the only company in Dundee that offers the whole alphabet and numbers for people to hire out for birthdays, etc. We also make these from scratch.”
Kevin attributed the firm’s success to date to consistently watching the market and adapting to change.
MadeAt94 also regularly gives away gifts to charities and other organisations.
Kevin explained the background to this initiative: “The main reason is that as a family business we love to give back to the community and throughout the year we have excess products that we don’t want to go to waste.
“We want people to gain from this, especially at times when money is tight such as at Christmas.”