De Jour's Katrina Allen re-invents her business again

The serial entrepreneur behind De Jour Sanitary Products, Katrina Allen, is working on a new product and believes she has to do so, as constant re-invention is critical for business.

De Jour Sanitary Products' Katrina Allen is working on a new product and believes she has to do so, as constant re-invention is critical for business.

Allen's story starts more than a decade ago when she noticed that most female sanitary products were unattractively packaged; Allen's response was a range of products "in discreet zip lock bags".

That idea has sustained the brand for several years, but of late Allen has been itchy.

"When we started there were five brands in the market, now there are 11. And the pie did not get any bigger and it's not like the product becomes more trendy. We purchase it because we have to."

Allen has kept the brand fresh with new designs that cater to new trends – she says there's now a generation of women who are happy with colourful packaging instead of discrete packs – but says the best thing she can do for her business is to reinvent it thoroughly.

"You have to be a brand or make something unique," she says. "And I'm not a manufacturer."

Enter "Budons" a new concept she has invented for school stationery. Budons are pencil cases and other stationery items that can be accessorised with small plastic buttons. The idea is that kids will want to constantly add new budons to their stationery.

Smiggle liked the concept enough to take the range and UK newsagent group WH Smith will use it as a prime product in its 2011 back to school range.

"I look at everything as repackaging and ask how can I make it more beautiful," Allen says. "I do a lot of time on sites like Coolhunter and Springwise, and feel they are a source of great ideas. I wonder how I can apply it to something else."

Even though Budons are about to make a splash, Allen is already thinking about another re-invention – this time for toilet paper.

"I'm thinking of 'Country-Roading' toilet paper," she says. "The idea I have is beautiful but I can't find anyone to make it."

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