Apprentice star Bianca Miller to set up tights business Bianca Miller London11:00:00
Bianca Miller’s tights will go on sale after all
Lord Sugar may have decided to invest in Mark Wright, but Bianca Miller still looks set to get her business off the ground.
Bianca’s idea of a range of tights in a wide variety of skin tones failed to win over the business mogul, but it seems her appearance on the show has been enough to secure investment in her idea.
Just as Mark was named this year’s winner, Bianca revealed on Twitter that she would be launching her hosiery business imminently.
It looks as though she has taken Lord Sugar’s advice on board though, as the price is significantly lower than the £24 pitched during the show’s final.
Industry experts had stated that the price was far too high, with Lord Sugar suggesting it was overambitious to pitch the tights to the luxury market.
Bianca’s business idea looks to be getting off the ground
Bianca is now marketing the tights at £7.99 a pair, after telling You’re Hired host Dara O’Briain: ‘I think, on reflection I’d like it to be for more people.’
But it seems her idea is a little too popular, with the site appearing to crash due to the volume of traffic:
It comes as Bianca was accused of stealing her business idea from Ella Bennett, who says she told Bianca of her idea for nude tights to match every skin tone in February 2013.
Bianca had strenuously denied this, with her spokesperson saying: ‘Bianca came up with the idea in 2010 and has been developing it since then. She knows she is not the first, and nor will she be the last to come up with this idea – but she views any other brands providing a similar product as healthy competition.’
She wrote on Twitter: "Register your interest for skin tone tights from #BiancaMillerLondon tights on http://www.biancamillerlondon.com RRP £7.99 @BiancaMillerLdn coming soon."
My proposal for a start-up was to manufacture a range of women’s tights that matched their skin colour – and wasn’t restricted to the three shades currently available. The Oxford Dictionary online definition of “nude” includes: “Of a pinkish-beige colour – nude tights.” Now, we all know that if you stand 100 people in a room naked they will all be varying skin tones, not just “pinkish-beige”, so why are we expected to conform to this in our underwear, cosmetics or hosiery?
Back when I was 18, I bought a fancy frock for my birthday party. It was cold (I’m a December baby) and I wanted some “nude” hosiery to match my ensemble – chic but warm. I trawled the high street and searched the internet, but all I saw was a variety of strange colours that in no way resembled my skin. So what did I do? I simply braved the cold.
After leaving university and entering the world of work, I felt it would be more professional to wear a pair of tights for important meetings and presentations. So I did what most women either side of the existing “nude” shade did: I wore black.
I took note of my fair-skinned and Caucasian colleagues who were obviously struggling to get “nude” right – often parading beautifully tanned legs not even close to the colour of their arms.
So I did some research, and realised that it isn’t an easy industry to break into – the large players could crush me. So I put it to one side. I got on with life, and I started a business focusing on helping other people with their personal branding and employability.
But the issue quickly reared its head again, with my clients feeding back that they had faced the same problems I did.
Though some high-street stores had started to increase the number of colours they offer, they were quite often badly stocked, and the colours inconsistent or too “glittery”. And it continued to puzzle me that in multicultural Britain, high-street retailers had not recognised the need to offer a better solution. Britain has been uniquely diverse for generations, so it’s incredibly frustrating to find that basic consumer products still don’t recognise our presence here.
I did more research and I found some manufacturers. And after a lot of persistence from my fiance, I threw my hat into The Apprentice ring as the best way of getting the funding I needed.
As soon as the show commenced, I faced intense competition. There were many highs and lows: at one point I made a ridiculous mistake, under pressure, which was to give one small Westminster store exclusive local rights to sell a board game we’d created. The reaction was extreme – I found myself labelled an idiot on social media for a simple human mistake.
Thankfully I redeemed myself the following week with a pitch in New York for our energy drink Big Dawg, winning as project manager.
The main reason I lost in the final is probably that, though experts hearing my business plan liked the concept, they weren’t keen on my proposed selling price (£20 per pair). I wanted to offer clients a pair of tights that was ladder-resistant, control-topped, seamless and a bloody good colour match.
However, on reflection, I’ve thought back to the 18-year-old me. I wanted tights too but I would never have been able to afford £20. So, I’ve taken the time between filming and the show being aired to re-evaluate my product. And I’ve now decided to go ahead on my own, with the tights to sell at £7.99.
The last few months have been exhilarating, and I’ve learned a massive amount about business, and what customers are looking for. And I hope women of all colours – teenagers, senior businesswomen and everyone in between – will appreciate that, after years of being ignored by this part of the fashion industry, they now have someone who truly recognises what they need.Miller originally launched her business with a focus on luxury products and higher-priced items, but she now appears to have dropped the price from £20 down to £7.99. www.biancamillerlondon.com