Last week, Redbrick caught up with Matthew Rolfe and Christopher Bates, Birmingham alumni who have set up Selly Joke, the new fancy dress and parties supplies shop in Selly Oak.   What inspired you to set up Selly Joke? ‘My business partner Matt came to me late last year and asked me if I wanted […]

News Editor: March 2013 - April 2014
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Last week, Redbrick caught up with Matthew Rolfe and Christopher Bates, Birmingham alumni who have set up Selly Joke, the new fancy dress and parties supplies shop in Selly Oak.
 

What inspired you to set up Selly Joke?

‘My business partner Matt came to me late last year and asked me if I wanted to come in on it. Really what the dream was about was to help students and to achieve something that nobody’s done before. We’re right next door to the Drinks To Go man, everybody loves him, what he does and provides the students and we aim to provide the same style of service but with fancy dress.’

 

How is the shop funded?

‘The shop is funded through a variety of sources, obviously a little bit of money came in from me and Matt ourselves. The vast majority of the money came from the start up loan scheme, which was launched when the coalition government came in, which was £112 million pot of loan money that is given to companies to distribute to young people. We went through a company called Rockstar Youth, who have also helped a number of other projects in the area such as Tim the Burrito Man and former Sabbatical Officer Matt Lamb and his new business. They give you the money as a loan and it is unsecure personal, it’s not against the business and it’s all wonderful.’

 

What does Selly Joke stock?

‘What we’re stocking is all based about value, obviously students don’t have £30 or £40 to spend on a fancy dress costume and they want to spend £10, £15, £20 if that. We’ve got some costumes that are priced at £15 or £20, a lot of accessories like wigs and hats and badges and sets around £3, £4, £5. We also do loads of party supplies like shot glasses, pint glasses, beer pong, party poppers and playing cards, which are by far our best sellers so far. Everybody seems to want a pack of playing cards.’

 

Any other comments?

‘This has all been possible because of a scheme at the university called Be Seen which works with a number of Birmingham universities to allow people to realise their dreams in business. It’s worked for us, it’s worked for a number of other local companies like My Onesie, Purple Frog, Glide as all of them came through the scheme.’

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