A year on – what happened to those advised by the Glee Garden Angels?

The entrepreneurs dispensing the valuable advice as Glee Garden Angels were Paris Natar, founder of Gardman; Sue Allen, co-founder of the Millbrook Garden Company; Lloyd Taylor, at that time head of buying at Wilkinsons; and Steve Guy - Seasonal Category Trading for B&Q.

Probably the most enthusiastic about appearing in front of the Angels was Juliette Atkinson. They opened her eyes to how the garden centre market works. Sales for The Grow Bag Frame have tripled since last year, mainly through catalogues and the Internet. She also has German and Dutch distributors pending.

“It bought our attention to things we hadn’t seen,” she said and has redesigned her packaging as a result. But she decided against all the advice given. She recognises that manufacturing in the Far East would reduce the costs, but she is determined to keep the product British and protect jobs where she can.

Ashortwalk makes slate effect house name plates from recycled coffee cups. Owner Dan Dicker, said the experience helped give him exposure and he came away with a list of actions to take. The last year has been really good. His products are set to be the centrepiece of the Dobbies eco-store soon to open at Peterborough and he says his are the first eco-products in Homebase.

Hemang Majeethia’s BBQ Tower, which he designed while at university, has just featured on the Alan Titchmarsh show. “The Garden Angels was a fantastic experience,” he said. He followed their advice and reduced the price, which sold his initial production run. Modifications suggested by the Angels are being designed into the next batch. But the most important advice was to take control of his life. He has passed control of his business to other family members while he takes up work with a national company to get wider experience

Peter Manning’s 4 Leaves Innovation presented the stackable Raincan. Strong recommendations from Steve Guy and Sue Allen gave Peter’s investors the encouragement they needed to sanction putting his invention into production. However, partly because of production delays, their interest has yet to lead to orders.

Caroline Knox’s family had invested in a plant to compress straw into environmental friendly logs. She said that meeting the Garden Angels was a great experience, even if nothing came directly from it, despite a lot of leads generated for Agrilogs. She is now acting on the Angel’s advice to rebrand the product and make the packaging more informative and now has renewed interest from Dobbies.

Paris Natar and Sue Allen will return as Glee Garden Angels this year. It will be announced shortly who the remaining Angels are to be. The show is the centrepiece of the Hothouse and takes place at lunchtime on each day of the show. This year it will be a competition, with the Angels voting for a winner.
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