Leeds-based start-up celebrates award win and 60 per cent growth increase

Claire Shakespeare

A Leeds-based manufacturer of women’s fashion accessories has been named a winner at Leeds Beckett University’s Business Advantage Awards, following its most successful year in business.

Established in 2015 by part-time ballet teacher, Claire Shakespeare, Butterfly Tree creates handcrafted bags from its headquarters in Leeds, Yorkshire.

In partnership with Leeds law firm, Lupton Fawcett, and accountancy firm WGN, the Business Advantage Awards provides five winners with up to £5,000 worth of free legal advice and £1000 of accountancy support.

The award win follows a successful year in business for the firm which has seen a 60% increase in revenue; due to improvements in business processes such as marketing, sales, staffing and moving offices to a working mill.

Starting out at a kitchen table in Claire’s home, Butterfly Tree recently secured a partnership with national retailer John Lewis, who now stocks five of Butterfly Tree’s products across their Yorkshire stores. The firm is also due to launch its second range of products in Spring 2018.

Butterfly Tree works with locally sourced wool and leather manufacturers, including the renowned Abraham Moon and A.W Hainsworth; a local manufacturer with a royal warrant to supply HM The Queen.

Founder, Claire has plans for output to continue to grow significantly in 2018, with a target turnover of £100k by 2019.

Butterfly Tree will join other Business Advantage award winners at a celebration event taking place at Leeds Digital Hub on Friday May 11 at 12pm.

Claire Shakespeare said: “I am delighted to have been recognised for our hard work since setting up three years ago. The last year has been incredible for Butterfly Tree; we’ve enjoyed a very successful year in business and seen a number of improvements to business processes.

“Winning a Business Advantage award was a real achievement for us and has given me great confidence in the future of the business.

“Building Butterfly Tree has been extremely rewarding and the future looks very promising. We’re looking forward to launching our new range in Spring and seeing how well it is received by Butterfly Tree’s loyal customer base.”

Leeds Beckett University’s business centre programme manager Kirstie Frenneaux said: “All of the judges were impressed by Claire’s knowledge of her market and commitment to producing quality, ethical designs which celebrate the best of British materials and tradition. We are greatly looking forward to working with Butterfly Tree Bags to help them with their next stage of their growth.”


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