Q&A with Toffee’s owners

Hassan Issa and Natasha Sullivan

When did you start Toffee, and why?

We started Toffee over 10 years ago — before the iPhone was even born! Hassan worked for an Apple Retailer and quickly discovered there was a limited range of Mac accessories available to sell to his customers. Back then, the big bulky black laptop bags were aplenty, but nothing really slim-line or stylish was on the market. We are both Mac lovers and wanted cases that were just as beautiful as the products, so we set about designing something we’d be proud to carry around, and Toffee grew from there. A Mac says a lot about a person — they appreciate good design…like a Toffee bag!

Has Toffee always followed the route it is taking now, or did you initially start out with quite a different vision?

Toffee was originally all about providing stylish leather cases for Apple products. We’ve now expanded this to offer a range of lifestyle accessories, but our vision to provide high quality leather goods crafted from the finest leathers has always stayed the same.

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve been faced with when starting Toffee?

Besides being a couple and working together, we also had a newborn baby at the time of our launch. This was our first business, and whilst Hassan’s expertise was in Sales and mine in Design and Marketing, running our own business was totally new to us. So we learned on the job, and sometimes the hard way!

Keeping up with demand as a startup was also initially challenging, as producing a quality leather product on high demand is difficult when it takes over 3 months to create.

Is there a certain element of your brand/product that you’re particularly proud of?

Simplicity in design. We have a fundamental belief that ‘less is more’, and this is visible in all our products — from our first 13” leather sleeve launched in 2005, to our new standard shopper. Our designs have been inspired by classic and retro forms of the past, but with modern and innovative tweaks.

For example, our Flip Wallet for iPhone 6/6 Plus is designed to look like an old-school journal — even down to the contrast elastic closure and check lining inside. It also features a magnet at the back of the wallet so that the flap is secured in a way that it doesn’t get in the way when talking on the phone. Customers are always surprised and delighted by this feature. Another unique factor is that element of surprise. The bags look like normal lifestyle products, yet they have hidey-hole sections for all our modern devices.

We also really care about our customers and try to make our customer service as personable as possible. From our retailers, to our customers online, we always endeavour to keep them happy. Being family owned and run, we are thoroughly involved in every aspect of the business. If you contact toffee, you will more than likely have Hassan or I on the phone or answering your email.

What is your vision for the future of Toffee? Anything exciting in the pipeline that you’d be happy to share with us?

We have new lifestyle accessories coming soon, including an Overnight bag and Wash Bag. We’re also working on an exciting collaboration with an Australian artist this year, so watch this space!

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