It’s a problem almost all women have faced – desperately trying to adjust a pair of tights in public.

Whether they slip down or twist around uncomfortably, it’s a frustrating issue. But for entrepreneur Brie Read, such incidents simply served as inspiration to set up a highly successful business that aimed to fix the problem.

“I was walking down George Street in Edinburgh and my tights kept falling down, eventually dropping down to my knees,” explains 39-year-old Ms Read. “I told my friends, who said that they had all experienced something similar, so I conducted a survey and found 90% of women couldn’t find tights that fit. 

“I thought someone had to do something about that – and why not me? I researched, worked with manufacturers and then developed a product.”

And so, three years ago, Snag was born. The key appeal of its tights is that they are made to fit any height, size or body shape, unlike the standardised versions seen on the high street.

“People believe that tights will stretch to fit but they don’t. They are designed to fit size eight women who are tall, but very few people fall into that category.”

Snag’s ultra-inclusive tights are evidently plugging a gap in the market. Ms Read’s firm now boasts extensive customer bases in the UK, USA, Europe and Australia, with further expansion on the horizon.

“I thought Snag would get big, but how quickly it has continued to grow has surprised me. 
“We are opening a second warehouse within the next year which will create around 100 new jobs. That means that within three and a half years of trading we will have 170 staff – it’s a little bit insane.”

This growth has been achieved by a thoroughly modern approach to retailing, with Snag’s products only available through its own website. And what’s more, Ms Read has absolutely no interest in stocking her products in any high-street store.

“Bricks and mortar retail is a very difficult place to be now, and isn’t somewhere that we are considering. It is really important to us to be in charge of our customers’ journey, and as soon as you have other people selling your products you can’t really do that.”

Being an online-only business has allowed Snag to develop an incredibly close relationship with its clients, who now number almost 100,000 followers on Instagram and more than 185,000 on Facebook. They even have a nickname for themselves: Snagglers. 

With such success in a short period of time – all driven through the internet – would Ms Read say that positive social media engagement is a must for any new businesses? 

“Absolutely. It is fundamental to talk to your customers. The way that people want to talk to you now is through social media. You need to answer their questions and engage with them.”

Such is the strength of the relationship with her customers, Ms Read was able to directly appeal to Snag shoppers to help rescue the business after it took a major hit during lockdown.

“We started a scheme after coronavirus where we gave NHS workers free tights. We thought that we could make their shifts a bit more comfortable and we ended up giving away 22,000 pairs of tights, including free shipping. 

“During that time we were waiting for a government response, some help for businesses. But we soon realised that the help we were hoping for wasn’t coming, and we were actually in a pretty bad way. 

“We were going to run out of money by July if our sales stayed at that low volume. So we started a campaign called ‘Save our Snag’, where we offered a two for one discount voucher. We launched it on the Monday morning and by the Friday we had sales of £1.25m – which meant we were safe for the rest of lockdown. I’d never seen anything like it.”

The success of Snag has always been helped by the generosity of others. When Ms Read first came up with the idea for the business she managed to raise £100,000 from family and friends in return for shares. But when it comes to advising those hoping to emulate her success, her biggest tip is not to take other people’s advice.

“You really just need to follow your gut instinct, do what you believe is right. Don’t change it for anyone."

Brie has been nominated for 'The Inflexion Entrepreneur of the Year' award at the Lloyds Bank National Business Awards and the virtual awards ceremony announcing the winners will be on 10th November.