Interview with Charlie Marshall, Founder of

Interview with Charlie Marshall, Founder of

Loaf---Beatnik-bed-from-£795-high-res.2For people who don’t know can you tell us a little bit about Loaf?

We make laid-back furniture for people to kick off their shoes and lead happier, more relaxed lives. I once lost a whole Saturday trying to buy a bed so I decided to make the shopping experience as hassle-free, affordable and speedy as possible. Two years, 187 mattress factories and some seriously comfy beds later, Loaf ( was born. In just seven years we’ve grown from our original 12 beds and one perfect mattress to become a one-stop shop for the whole home. Our comfy sofas and upholstered beds are handmade in Long Eaton, Derbyshire – the heart of British upholstery making. And our mattresses are made in Wiltshire! You can come and test out our loafing wares at our first store called the Loaf Shack which we opened in Battersea in Autumn 2015.

Why did you want to open the Loaf Shack?

Our aim has been to make shopping for furniture online as easy and as hassle-free as possible. But there are still lots of people that want to bounce around on the beds and sit on the sofas before they buy. So in answer to our customers we’ve created a seriously beautiful, bells and whistles store filled with things to make people smile.

What other treats do you have in the Loaf shack?

We want people to really kick-back and relax at our new home so there are chill-out areas with old school games (think Space Invaders and table football!) and you can even tuck into a couple of scoops of ice cream at our traditional-style parlour. There’s a fun-filled Little Loafers corner to keep the kids busy too.

For the first time we’re offering a cherry-picked collection of takeaway gifts and accessories including organic candles, cosy blankets and other essential loafing supplies.

Where else can people visit you?

We’ve also got our Notting Hill Den just off Ladbroke Grove which is our original 5,000 square foot showroom-style space. And we’re planning to roll out more Loaf Shacks in the next few years so watch this space. There’s definitely more to come!

What advice do you have for Little Brands just starting out and looking for creative ways to develop their company?

1. Start with one thing and do it really well – There’s a tendency to over-complicate in business, resist that temptation! Focus on being the best at that one thing – Pret a Manger have a strong understanding of what they’re good at and sticking to it – it’s all about more of the same, just on a larger scale.

2. Work out the question you’re trying to answer – Keep a concept simple and then work out how to achieve your goal. Once you have the answer, test one approach thoroughly – and if that doesn’t work test another – to get to where you want to go. Rather than trying everything at once in the hope that something – anything – will work.

3. Listen to your instinct – First thought is usually the right thought. If you’re over thinking it, it probably isn’t right. Indecision or ‘analysis paralysis’ can be one of the biggest inhibitors for growth. These are lost opportunities to test, learn and develop as a business.

4. Ask why? – Why should customers find this interesting? Why should we be doing this? Why is this going to give us a return? I think when people get comfortable they stop asking themselves “why?”. Then they’re in trouble.

5. Is the website easy to use? – Simplicity is key to creating a fantastic customer experience. Is the website so simple that anyone can use it? Would this newsletter make them smile? Would they get what we’re trying to say? If functionality is intuitive for the non-tech savvy the likelihood is that the majority of customers will have an enjoyable and easy experience too.

6. Treat customers as friends – There’s been a real shift to more natural and informal brand communications in the last few years. Consumers are responding to a transparent, ‘does what it says on the tin’ and friendly approach that works to strengthen customer-brand relationships. Innocent Drinks’ chatty tone of voice is a brilliant example of how to avoid wordy, corporate jargon – their messages are clear and they’ve built a strong customer community who relate to and trust what they do.

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