Member Spotlight: Meet Gareth Thompson

When Gareth Thompson needed a name for his new beauty business, he sought inspiration from an unlikely source. Rather than canvassing opinion among his peers, he turned to a feathered friend for help.

“My friend had a cockatoo called Coco and it always used to say “Hello Coco”. I thought that sounded pretty good,” confessed Gareth, about the coconut oil brand he co-founded a year ago. “But I looked online and somebody had already taken that domain, so I thought: what’s another way of saying hello?” And with that Hola Coco was born.

Gareth’s unconventional approach to business doesn’t end there. He admits that he knew he wanted to be an entrepreneur, long before he’d found the right product to take the plunge with. “I’ve always liked the idea of business and making money. And having a Porsche,” he laughed. “All the freedom, being able to do whatever you want, not having to answer to anyone.”

All the freedom, being able to do whatever you want, not having to answer to anyone.

That dream finally became a reality after Gareth identified a gap in the market for coconut oil-based hair products. “My girlfriend Sophie had used a similar oil before. But there was no real brand in the UK, so I thought there was a massive hole in the market.”

With Sophie on board, the pair went about out finding a manufacturer in China and then bought 500 units to see if there was a market for the product online. Cautious that the Manchester-based venture might not take off, they both continued in their day jobs, using their evenings and weekends to process orders and deal with the growing demand for Hola Coco.

They needn’t have worried: the product has quickly built up a loyal client base, with the vast majority of first-time customers coming back for more. Hola Coco has also won acclaim among the beauty community, receiving coverage from top bloggers as well as national newspapers.

It’s just about testing and finding out what works.

That hasn’t happened without hard work, of course. Gareth is quick to point out the steeping learning curve they’ve been on. “It’s been learning about marketing, websites, how to get your products in front of people,” he said. “It’s just about testing and finding out what works.”

This has included an overhaul of their clunky website, as well as designing sleek, new packaging for the product.

Despite the continual developments, there has been one constant for Gareth – a good team. The couple have frequently had to recruit friends and family to help with spiralling sales, including his mum who manages the shipping side of the business.

As the brand continues to gain momentum, its co-founders are hopeful that by December, they’ll both be able to leave their day jobs and focus on the venture full-time. A determined Gareth is also open to other business opportunities, and ultimately hopes to be at the helm of several successful enterprises.

His plan is an ambitious one, but given what the couple have achieved in a mere 12 months, perhaps Gareth will be buying that Porsche sooner than he thinks.

Check out Hola Coco’s website here.