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Local entrepreneur takes on Dragons Den

3 years ago

Local entrepreneur takes on Dragons Den

Mersey businessman Drew Cockton reveals what it’s like to feel the heat in the Dragon’s Den

Businessman Drew Cockton has revealed how facing the Dragons in their Den was one of the most terrifying experiences of his life.

“It was nerve-wracking and it was exhausting,” says Drew. “I was at the studios from 11am and they didn’t film until 10 at night.

“Throughout the day there was no warning that you were going to be filming in, say, an hour, you just sat there waiting, knowing you could be next.

“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and when I got in front of the dragons I was so nervous, I had to keep stopping to ask for water because my mouth went so dry.”

But he smiles: “They were kind to me and edited that out!”

Owen Drew

As seen on BBC One’s broadcast last night Drew, 35, secured a £50,000 investment from retail magnate Touker Suleyman in exchange for 30% of his luxury fragrance business, Owen Drew, which he runs from Birkenhead.

“I was delighted. So many people leave empty-handed but I had prepared and watched every clip of Dragon’s Den I could get my hands on, so I knew every question they might ask.

“At one point it got so late that runners asked if I could go back the next day and said they’d put me up in a hotel, but I said no because I didn’t have a change of clothes and I’d geared myself up for it then. I was grateful they stayed behind to film it.”

Drew says: “When you go on, you go up in the lift – just a pretend lift! – and then you’re in front of the dragons. It was the first time I’d seen them and I was nervous, but having watched all the clips I felt like I knew them.

“It took an hour and a half to film, edited to 10-15 minutes. Touker immediately made an offer but they showed it the other way round which is why, when the others said no, I didn’t look disheartened. But they were all lovely.”

And former St Anselms Grammar School pupil Drew chuckles: “It’s filmed in the old Coronation Street studios and I was thrilled to be in Audrey Roberts’ (actress Sue Nicholl’s) old dressing room.  It was fab!”

The investment was a major achievement for Drew who was diagnosed as bi-polar as a young adult, and revealed how mental health issues had been the driving force behind his business, with the concept of wellness at the forefront of everything he does.

Having done a degree in German and politics and then a post-grad at Manchester Business School, Drew opened a hotel business on Manchester’s trendy Canal Street at 22: “It would have been a great business but I was totally inexperienced, and I was working so hard that I actually made myself quite ill and had a breakdown,” he says.

The budding entrepreneur went on to get a ‘really good’ job as business account manager for a financial services company, but five years ago started making candles from his kitchen.


Drew, who’s originally from Liverpool but was brought up on Wirral, goes on: “I started making the candles as creative therapy to keep me sane, but I have always been entrepreneurial and I realised I was really onto something. Nowadays the world and his dog is making candles from home but then it was new, and I had people knocking on my front door as news got round by word of mouth.

“And I hated the drudgery of 9-5, the passive aggressive emails from middle managers and boring team meetings.”

Drew sold the candles under the name Owen Drew via social media. Since then the business has expanded from vegan soy wax candles into eau de parfum fragrances as well as a successful bath and body collection, all retailing via Owen Drew’s website and boutique in Birkenhead, from where he also makes the products and his offices are based.

He’s had sales in excess of £1m and gained endorsements from celebrities like Paris Hilton – but he was struggling to expand further – and that is where Dragon’s Den came in.

“I applied in January last year and, because of lockdown, I actually filmed last night’s programme in October. I applied not because of the money but because there’s only so far I can take the business. I have tried to get in front of buyers at stores like John Lewis and Harrods but it’s impossible. It’s about the contacts – and that’s where Touker can help to propel the business forward.”

Drew, who has also launched Heatherfield House, an intimate events venue in Wirral, and is set to bring out his own branded range of rosé wine, says since Dragon’s Den was shown he’s had lots of phone calls congratulating him – and the website has exploded with orders.

His aim now, he says, is to take Owen Drew from being a well-known North West brand, to one that’s known nationally and internationally.

He smiles again: “The name Owen Drew came from Drew being my given name and my mum’s maiden name, and Owen was my nanna’s name before marriage.

“My nanna joked that she hopes to see the name on lorries going up and down the country as the business grows – and I’d like to achieve that for her while she’s here.”


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