Case Study: TORRO – from the police force to stylish men’s accessories

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TORRO co-founders Michael Farnsworth and William Johnson, pictured above, took the plunge to take their careers in an entirely different direction four years ago when they left the police to form a company which combines technology and a desire to make accessories that are both high quality and affordable. Here, SME Magazine catches up with them to find out how things are going.

Tell us about TORRO

Michael Farnsworth: “TORRO is a lifestyle accessory brand specialising in producing premium quality yet affordable leather cases and covers for mobile devices. We created the brand with the ethos of designing products that William and I wished to use ourselves and to share them with like-minded style conscious tech enthusiasts. This ethos has remained as we have extended into fashion and everyday essentials.

How did the idea for TORRO come about?

William Johnson: “After struggling to find something that would fit our own needs for practical, but stylish phone cases, we decided to design our own. In early 2013 we invested £250 each into buying cuts of Italian leather, manufacturing just 100 iPhone cases. We kept some for ourselves and friends, the rest we listed on Ebay. We sold out within a week so decided to re-invest the profits into producing more. We continued this cycle, growing the business and product range and now stock more than 230 different products on Torrocases.co.uk.”

What is the best thing about your job?

MF – “The best thing for us is being able to create products that we ourselves would want to use. TORRO was created with like-minded people in mind. We predominantly cater to style conscious men, who want good quality products that are affordable. Being able to design new products with that ethos in mind can be a challenge but it is extremely rewarding.” 

What is your proudest achievement?

WJ – “Taking the plunge to set up TORRO in the first place is a huge achievement in itself. We both had stable jobs in the police force so it was a big risk for us to hand in our notices to concentrate on TORRO full time. To see the company grow from a £500 investment into a multi-million turnover in four years is overwhelming.”

What has been your biggest challenge?

WJ – “For TORRO it has been growing at such a rapid rate without losing control. We have gone from a collective £500 investment to a multi-million turnover in just four years. Keeping the quality high and satisfying the demand of the growing TORRO fan base has been a difficult balance. We believe our experience working as detectives, managing complex cases, has helped with making decisions. We are highly trained in expecting the unexpected and predicting where there may be bumps in the road ahead. We have taken this into our new roles where we forecast every aspect of the business and ensure all new product releases fit with the company ethos and production and finances are sustainable.

MF – “Running your own business can be tough; it’s 24/7. There is a lot of pressure to deliver. It was hard to go from jobs with a secure wage to a start-up with no guarantees. When you’re running your own business you’re only as good as next month’s sales. Keeping the quality of our products high while satisfying the increasing demand of our fan base is also a challenge” 

Where do you see your business in the next 10 years?

WJ – “We have only scratched the surface of our e-commerce market. In the future, we aim to steady the growth and continue to ensure we have control of momentum. We see TORRO taking a further foothold within EU countries and the USA. We also intend to bring TORRO to the high street by selecting established and fitting retail partners to showcase the TORRO range. We hope to grow our workforce and move into larger premises to give room for growth. It’s all part of our ambition to become a one-stop shop for stylish consumer lifestyle accessories.” 

TORRO is a premium leather men’s accessories brand available at Torrocases.co.uk.