An ambitious North East continence product supplier will be taking to the national airwaves in the new year with the help of a six-figure investment from the North East Small Loan Fund Supported by The European Regional Development Fund.

Lylalife supplies a range of high-quality urinary incontinence products which are delivered directly and discreetly to customers, with a monthly repeat order service available alongside one-off purchases.

Founded 18 months ago, the Durham-headquartered business has so far only advertised its products through Facebook, but has already managed to build a customer base of over 5,000 buyers right across the UK.

And after working with regional fund management firm NEL Fund Managers to secure the £100,000 Small Loan Fund investment, Lylalife is now aiming to increase this number to 50,000 over the next two years.

A major marketing campaign is being planned for the new year, with advertising slots booked on ITV, Sky Television, Classic FM and Smooth FM to help build greater awareness of the Lyla brand, which stands for Live Your Life Again.

Around 20 new North East jobs are expected to be created with the planned expansion of the business, which also has premises in Newcastle.

The Lylalife concept was developed by a team of directors who combine experience of supplying similar product ranges to the care home sector and the NHS with financial and marketing experience.

Managing director Wayne Dobson says: “The products we supply are quite expensive to buy in the shops and experience shows that the quality can be variable, while some customers can naturally feel a bit awkward about being seen taking them off supermarket shelves.

“My existing commercial relationships with manufacturers in the sector meant we were able to source quality products very economically and allowed us to assemble a best-in-class initial product range.

“Our expert e-commerce marketing team then developed our website and digital marketing strategy to see if we might be able to create a business.

“Customer response has been extremely encouraging and the challenge for us now is to scale up our operations, increase awareness of our brand and make sure that the maximum number of potential customers understand the quality and scope of what we offer.

“Our new year marketing push is the starting point for this drive and we’re confident that we’ll be able to increase our customer base tenfold over the next two years, with the added benefit of new North East jobs set to follow as we grow.

“Being able to access capital from within the region was an important factor for us.  When we looked at what was available here, the scalable model offered by NEL was the obvious choice and we’re already considering how we might use further growth investments in the future.”

Jonathan Armitage, investment executive at NEL Fund Managers, adds: “Lylalife has already demonstrated customer demand for its high-quality products and its business plan shows a clear path for how it will be able to scale up significantly over the next couple of years.”

Part of the £120m North East Fund and aimed predominantly at smaller SMEs, the £9m North East Small Loan Fund typically offers loans of between £10,000 and £100,000 to businesses in Tyne & Wear, Durham and Northumberland.

It is designed to assist with the creation of over 1,200 new regional jobs in more than 320 SMEs over the life of the fund.

The overarching £120m North East Fund will provide financial support for more than 600 businesses, creating around 3,500 jobs and delivering a legacy of up to £80m for further investment into the region.