Custom Plugs started as a Leeds based company. We now have three depots across the globe (UK,EU and US) each one paving the way for the future of plugs, specialising in the design and manufacture of Acrylic, Wooden, Stone & Silicone body jewellery.
The story of Custom Plugs starts not through the need to make money or be successful, but through a simple idea and a great friendship.
Chris and Matt met each other whilst both working a regular 9-5 restaurant job. Through shared interests and working together they became great friends, and started hanging out, outside of work.
People speak of a Eureka moment when they explain the origins of their business idea.
Custom Plugs has a similar story but it is far from glamorous. One evening whilst playing Xbox and having a few drinks, Matt mentioned that he had lost one of his plugs on a night out and needed to buy a new pair.
We joked about the fact nowhere sold anything that was half decent. Flaming 8 balls and skulls with top hats were about as exciting as the designs got and plain plugs seemed a bit "boring".
We thought to ourselves, why doesn't someone get a great tattoo artist or illustrator to make some amazing plug designs, as they would be received better, than what’s currently on offer in local shops & piercers.
And that was it, the idea, the spark that lit the fire under our feet. An idea that was conceived through a need for a product that we felt didn't exist.
We got to work straight away thinking of who could design the plugs, what we wanted on them and a name for our new project to be called. It wasn't long before we were spending every night brainstorming and researching about everything to do with plugs and the manufacturing process.
There was just one thing stopping us….. Money. We both had none. It was at this point we turned into professional beggars and part time risk takers. Maxing out a £1,200 credit card and selling our souls to family and friends Custom Plugs was born.
The next step was to sell the product, we stocked up a holdall and headed to Manchester. Speaking to the owner of a successful body jewellery shop we transfer our passion for the product into our first sale. It was at this precise point that we realised we had something special and of course around £83 less debt.
We took this holdall from Manchester, to Liverpool, Stoke on Trent, Brighton, London and many more places. Along the way we had rejection, arguments, stress, and sleepless nights but most importantly we came back with no stock and less debt.
From then we had a foundation and knew our idea could work. We watched Christmas go by with no stock and we’re both itching to get back on the road. Our Facebook page had reached over 1,000 likes and was full of customers wanting products that we didn’t have. We worked our 9-5 jobs in the day and tirelessly at Custom Plugs on a night.
Mum and Dad’s dining room was now the headquarters for our growing business and eventually, the work from Custom Plugs outweighed our daytime jobs. It was at this point we had to make one of the biggest decisions of our life, to quit our jobs and make a go of this fulltime.
Handing in our notices we met up to discuss what we’d just done. Worried that we might lose our entire business from taking £50 a week wage, we couldn’t fail. We made plans to attended tattoo conventions selling our product from a shoddy set up of two pasting tables.
As failure wasn’t an option the headquarters spilt over into the living room, the Facebook page grew to 50,000 likes and Mum and Dad where practically staff members. It was here when we hired our first staff member (Matthews brother) After all he lived upstairs and already had knowledge of the business. At first, he worked part time after his main job. The extra helping hand allowed us to focus on growing the business and at that point after some long discussions, we made our first big purchase a laser machine!
Although expensive our first laser machine allowed us to broaden the product range. After a few learning curves, we’d become really creative. Producing plugs & phone cases the results were spectacular!
Our customers loved the new product range and the sales wouldn’t stop flying in. With that success, it was time to bite the bullet and get a place of our own. We agreed on a premises in Leeds and also hired our second staff member Steve (Chris dad)
With the edition to the growing team we went into overdrive. Sales grew by over 300% and we were closing in on our first proper Black Friday. Staffed up, stocked up and what we thought was prepared we launched our Black Friday Sale. None of us was prepared for the onslaught of orders, they flew in faster than we could print, pack and get them out of the door. All hands were on deck! With the help of family, friends and 14-hour shifts we completed our then biggest achievement. We knew we had something truly special.
Since then we haven’t looked back. As the business started to truly establish itself we’ve hired more and more staff, moved premises multiple times and redesign our website 3 times over. We’ve increased our product range to over 1000 different items including a successful clothing range and an array of accessories. We’ve takean risks and overcome many hurdles. These have defined us as a business, we’ve learnt countless amounts and wouldn’t change anything. The experiences we’ve had, the customers we’ve met, the great artists we’ve worked alongside and everyone who’s been involved to make this a success we owe it all to you.
The dream continues!