A Tipperary entrepreneur, who sold a fur coat to actor Richard Burton when she was only thirteen, scooped a €100,000 investment in her business on television programme Dragons Den.
Business woman and fashion entrepreneur, Sandra Walsh, founder of Canopi Creative Ltd. ran the gauntlet with the investors on RTE’s Dragons Den, where she performed with gusto, showing her experience and knowledge in her industry.
While all the dragons were impressed by her ambitious pitch, it was one of the original dragons - Gavin Duffy, of MediaTraining who offered €100,000 investment for 35% of her business to fund the expansion of Canopi into the UK market and Northern Europe as well as scaling up online sales on www.canopisleeves.com.
Sandra's great belief is that all business is driven through relationship building and she developed her sales and interpersonal skills as a young girl helping in her mother’s ‘Fur Shop’ in Tipperary Town.
She sold her first fur coat when she was 13 years old in her parents' shop to movie star and husband of Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, who purchased from her when he was filming 'Tristan and Isolde' in nearby Glen of Aherlow.
Sandra spotted a niche in the market in 2012 and came up with a unique innovative product Canopi Sleeves which she designed herself.
She is founder of the business which now produces a range of fashion solutions which can be worn under sleeveless dresses, making the dresses more wearable, covering one’s arms and avoiding the need for a jacket or cardigan.
This simple, seamless garment worn under a sleeveless top or dress is a great hit with the mature woman, but growth in the market shows younger professional women also opting for this in the office setting.
In just four years, the product is being sold in two hundred fashion stores and boutiques throughout Ireland including well-known Brown Thomas, Arnotts, Pamela Scott and Fran and Jane to name a few.
More recently Canopi is now on sale in Harvey Nichols, Harrods and Fenwick on Bond Street, London.
One by one the dragons opted out giving their excuses, until only Gavin remained and he kept them all waiting until he made an offer.
He was the one that Sandra was hoping for, as she knew he was very aware of this market and would see the potential.
“When Gavin made his offer of €100,000 for 35% of the business, I had no hesitation in accepting. This company is going places and I know with Gavin’s experience, professional assistance as well as financial support, I will be more than happy with 65% of a successful international company with a multi-million turnover in the near future.
“I am absolutely delighted with the outcome and look forward to working with him”, Sandra says.
Investor Gavin Duffy added - “Canopi Sleeves has already proven itself in the Irish market and I see significant export potential for it, particularly through online shopping sites where it will be offered as an accessory to sleeveless dresses. The product is also doing very well online, in particular one of the main retailers www.topvintage.net and we are now working on optional additional purchase with several of the big online fashion stores”.
Since teaming up in the Dragons Den, Gavin says he has been very impressed with Sandra’s business acumen and diligence.
He admits that when she appeared in front of the Dragons Den line up, he recognised her, having seen her in action in the past - networking and working the room at business events.
He could see her passion and commitment to the business and all that she brought to it as well.