Being under cold air conditioning delivered Robert and Katy Appleford a brilliant business idea. “It was 2003 and we were living in Thailand,” says Katy, who was teaching English while Robert was on sabbatical from his job as a lawyer. “At the time, I was buying pashminas for us to wear ourselves, because there is so much air con in Bangkok – every taxi and train has it. You always needed a pashmina, regardless of weather or climate.
Robert, who had experience in building websites and wanted to use that skill to start a business, realised they had struck gold. “They were lightweight, didn’t cost a lot of money, and were easy to put in an envelope and ship worldwide,” he says. Pashminas it was. The pair took an unusual next step: they hit pause. Thailand wasn’t to be a permanent home and, 12 months later they returned to the UK, started a family, and passed the business to Robert’s mum, who ran it successfully for 17 years.
Following her death in 2021, they relaunched the company with a new name and a push to reach new markets. “Before our rebrand we were trading as a sole trader business and HSBC Kinetic was a great fit, being quick to set up with everything in the app,” says Robert.