We’re still buzzing after winning the 2023 Blenheim Palace Start-up competition. The annual competition began in 2018, and is designed to support and mentor locally-based firms.
A prize worth winning
The winner of Blenheim's start-up competition gets their products stocked in the Blenheim shop or cafe, and receives a year's worth of mentoring and support. It seemed like the perfect competition for Ducky Zebra to enter!
It's open to any business which is:
- Less than two years old or has fewer than five employees
- Based within 20 miles of Blenheim
- Can provide something which can be stocked in Blenheim Palace's shops or cafes
What did the competition involve?
The process involved a (quite hefty) application, followed by a day’s preparation with business mentor Sarah Ward. We then attended a pitch evening alongside other finalists, where we had 10 minutes to persuade the judges. One of Blenheim's resident ducks made a guest appearance during our presentations, which felt rather fitting for our brand!
Heather Carter, Managing Director of Blenheim Palace hosted the evening and the judging panel included Richard Rosser, CEO of B4Business, Judy Bendall, Head of Retail at Blenheim Palace, and Jack Butler, Head of Catering at Blenheim Palace. We’re not going to lie - it felt pretty nerve-racking at times - but the team at Blenheim were brilliant, as were the other finalists, who included Penny Maltby Designs and The Cattleshed Candle Company.
Heather Carter, said: “We’re truly committed to providing support to as many local start-up businesses as possible which is why this initiative is so important to us at Blenheim. Choosing this year’s winner was tricky with such incredibly talented business owners and fantastic ideas in the mix. We’re so chuffed for Sally and her wonderful Ducky Zebra range of children’s clothing and look forward to seeing it stocked in our retail outlet.”
What's next for Ducky Zebra at Blenheim Palace?
A few months have passed since we won the competition and we've already seen a number of benefits. Yes, Blenheim have placed orders with us. But they've done so much more. They've helped increase awareness and interest in our brand through great press coverage and social posts. They've been really collaborative with how they've placed their orders. And they've even featured our clothes as part of their Autumn window display. We're excited about the relationship we're building and the opportunities it will open for both of us.
Sally Dear, founder and CEO of Ducky Zebra says: “Winning the Blenheim Palace start-up competition is a dream come true. The advice and support we've received has been brilliant. The confidence the retail team has in our brand has been empowering. And the opportunities the win has created is truly exciting. It’s a fantastic initiative - and I encourage any other Oxfordshire-based business to apply!”