Well, what a very strange few months it has been.
My son and I have been isolated for 4 months now, which has had it's ups and downs! I spent a lot of time wondering if the business would survive and trying to think of ways I might pivot it if I needed too. Back in march our new printers had had all their orders cancelled by other customers and had to close during lockdown. Without this specialist part of my supply chain the Boy Wonder brand would not survive. Thankfully they are getting up and running again, so we can continue with production. However, in the longer term, when the government furlough scheme ends and the recession deepens I don't know how long they (and therefore we) will be able to continue. Sadly, I have not been eligible for any business grants or funding during this crisis.
I am also having to consider realistically how much work I can do now due to home schooling my son. As a widowed parent it was always a struggle to juggle work and home life, but now it's near impossible. This crisis has also made me reflect on what is important too. I realise I am no longer willing to work such long hours and miss out on quality time with him anymore. So the sensible option seems to be to focus on getting the production run done and the pre-orders out to my Kickstarter backers. Then, giving myself more time than previously planned, get the retail website made up in order to sell the rest of the stock from the production run. I will need to reduce my marketing output though which was what I spent most of my time working on. This means the newsletter will now become bi-monthly and blog posts monthly or so.
Thank you for sticking with us through this difficult time. I realise many of you, like myself, will be re-evaluating non-essential purchases such as fashion now due to financial reasons or simply as they don't seem so important anymore. However, I would hope that if you do need to buy kids clothes you will still consider Boy Wonder, for our ethical and sustainable standards, but also our fun designs.
I hope you have all managed to stay safe and well.
BIG thank you to everyone who has backed/pledged so far. We are only on 41% as pledges have slowed. Please help by spreading the word and if you haven't backed us yet and want to get your name on this board then click on the button below. Not sure how to do that then read my blog post all about Kickstarter and how it works here.
#crowdfunding #backers #pledges
So our crowdfund campaign has now launched and we need your help to make it a success. The social media and PR side of the business is extremely time consuming as I am doing it all on my own. It doesn't leave much time for anything else right now!
So I am asking everyone I know including all you lovely readers to tell at least 3 other people about us, what we do and our campaign.
Sharing, liking, retweeting, commenting and generally engaging with our campaign content on social media will also help us to get seen. You can follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.
Go and visit the Kickstarter campaign even if you don't want to buy anything and share it to your social media feeds.
Sign up to our mailing list too to keep up-to-date with what's happening with the campaign. There will be exciting offers and the possibility of new products too so don't miss out.
I really appreciate all the support and feedback many of you have given me over the years in getting set-up so a big thanks to all of you. Let's make Boy Wonder a success together!
#brandlaunch #startupbrand #ethicalfashion
When we launched our campaign on Kickstarter it soon became evident that most of our audience were not familiar with crowdfunding or backing projects and weren't even sure what it was. So I thought I should put together a post to explain what it is and how to use it.
Crowdfunding is a great way to raise money from a 'crowd' to fund a project. Kickstarter is one that is product based but there are also ones that raise money for equity or charity. Products featured in the projects have normally been sampled or prototyped and the money raised is often to then take them into production. This means the goods are not available to buy straight away as the backer is pledging to have it made first. This set-up has helped a lot of interesting (and crazy) ideas become reality, which probably wouldn't have got funding in the traditional ways. It is also a great way for creators to test the demand for their product before investing in it as putting a lot of money into stock before knowing it will sell is very risky..
You can only make one pledge on Kickstarter, but you can add other items onto your pledge and increase the amount to cover the add on. We include a handy table to show the prices with add-ons. So if you decide you want to add something else you can go back to the site and go to 'manage pledge'. You can also cancel a pledge if you need to, but only while the project is live. You will receive a confirmation page and/or email once the pledge has gone through.
You also don't need to actually pledge on an item (reward) you can just back the campaign by selecting no reward and an amount or select one of the little, big or super wonders rewards that are set a specific amount. So If you have now little wonders to buy for you can still support what we are doing.
Kickstarter works on an all-or-nothing basis, so if a project doesn't hit its funding goal within the timeframe they have set then they don't get anything. This means as a backer that your bank card would not be charged if the target is missed. If it is successful your card will be charged only at the end of the project for the final amount pledged. You will be notified about whether the project has succeeded by Kickstarter and by us.
If a funding goal is met before the end of the project you can still pledge. Most project creators like us will set a low goal that only covers their bare minimum costs, otherwise they risk not getting anything at all if they can't raise the funds. So keep pledging as this gives the creators much needed extra funds.
The Kickstarter site doesn't give you choices about sizes and colours etc. So at the end of a successful campaign you are sent a survey where you add all these details and contact information for shipping. You will be regularly updated by the us after the project ends about the progress on production.
If you have anymore questions please do contact me.
#crowdfunding #kickstarter #pledging
The Boy Wonder Kickstarter campaign is now LIVE!
Check out the new, lower prices, discounts and bundled deals. There will be other treats as the campaign runs such as extra offers, friend referral deals and stretch goals depending on it's success.
To get the momentum going on the campaign and get noticed by the algorithm we need raise at least 30% in the first 24 hours so if you are considering backing us please do it as soon as you can.
Let us know what you think and help to spread the word by sharing our campaign.
If you have been following the blog and Boy Wonder for a while you will know that we first launched our collection on Kickstarter back in June. Sadly, the crowd fund campaign was a big failure and it's taken a while to get back to the point of being able to relaunch again.
One of the big reasons I have really struggled to keep going was that I had been offered help by various industry experts, which for some reason evaporated. I totally understand how busy people are and so maybe it just wasn't practical for them, but it left me feeling very lost. It can be really difficult making decisions when you are running a business single-handedly, but as a widow I also have no life partner to help me either so it's doubly hard. I do have amazing friends and family who do what they can and have had some wonderful help and advice from various contacts, but the expert industry support would have been invaluable.
One of the hardest things to decide on is how high to set the funding goal. As Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing crowdfund site I have to set the target high enough to cover my anticipated costs but low enough to be realistically met. I have also decided to cut back what I am offering to just the jerseys which should help with reaching a minimum of 50 units per style. Any lower than this could make the project unrealistic unless I invest in the rest as stock which is very risky.
Anyway, after everything I have faced in my life I knew I couldn't just give up and had to give the collection one last shot. I have since been doing substantial research and analysis to try and work what went wrong (aside from the high prices) and what to do differently. So this time round I will have discounts and special offers to help stimulate pledges and will be featuring more about our amazing makers, press features and follower feedback during the campaign.
I have put an enormous amount of time and energy into promoting the collection and campaign across social media and mass media this time. Having contacted hundreds of contacts, journalists and bloggers, I have at least doubled my previous reach, but only had about a dozen people who are happy to feature us without charging me. So your help as my dedicated readers will be essential. You can help spread the word by telling your friends, sharing and commenting on our posts and signing up to our mailing list here.
Another time-consuming and costly element I have been dealing with has been switching to a new printer. On recommendation the new one will be far more reliable but it has meant having a third lot of fabric test prints done. Hopefully these will work out ok, as they haven't used the fabrics I wanted before.
Having invested so much of my own money in the business already this is really my last opportunity to have a successful launch and possibly to continue with the business. at all I don't have to resources to do it again, so if it fails again I will have to make some hard decisions and reconsider what I am doing.
On top of the all the cost and hard work of the last few months my old car died and needed replacing (we have a secon-hand electric one now!). We have also had various bouts of illness between me and my son and his school was flooded out and had to be closed. Then factor in the usual juggle of motherhood with working whilst being on my own, which sometimes seems an impossible thing to balance. My late husband's birthday has just passed too adding another layer of emotion to deal with. So we could really do with some good luck and for all my efforts to finally pay off!
On a good note, I have had lots of lovely responses to the Boy Wonder designs. Our subscribers list has increased by 116% since the last launch and our social media following is slowly growing. We had a double page feature in Future Textiles magazine here and been named in Drapers as ‘Childrenswear brand to watch’ and one of the ‘Alternative Occasionwear: The Brands to Know’ - high praise indeed! So, maybe things are moving in the right direction.
Thanks for sticking with us and I hope you will join us for the launch on Friday 6th December.
#brandrelaunch #startupbrand #businessstruggles
What Now for Boy Wonder
What do you Need?
So lovely readers I need your help...
I need you to tell me what YOU need.
Over the last three years of blogging I have had over 40,000 unique visitors to this site from all over the world. It takes up a lot of my work time writing the blogs and getting them out into the world. But, there seems to be a problem. When my crowdfund launched in June I had little to no visitors from this site and when I recently did a survey to find out why it hadn't worked I discovered that most blog readers didn't even know the crowdfund campaign was happening.
Now, the big news is that we are re-launching a paired-down collection on Kickstarter on
Friday 6th December at 11AM GMT
and I want you all to know about it and visit the crowdfunder, so you can get your hands on some lovely Boy Wonder stuff. The best way to do that is to get you to sign up to the mailing list. In fact, my subscribers were the only ones in the survey who all knew about the campaign. Sadly, considering the amount of visitors I get here not many of you actually sign up.
So what can I do to change that? What is it that will encourage you to join us as a subscriber?
Firstly let me tell you what you get from signing up. The current enticement is access to a 10% early bird discount on the launch. You will also recieve a monthly newsletter (sometimes bi-monthly, but I am doing my best!) which has the highlights from the blog over that month. There is also a news section that keeps you updated on what's happening behind the scenes, exclusive content and also details on giveaways, prize -draws and other exciting stuff. Sometimes I will also email you to tell you about important events such as the launch so you don't miss out. The best thing is that it is all delivered to your inbox absolutey free!
But maybe this is not quite what you want? Maybe there is something better I can offer you?
So, I have been doing some research and wracking my brains and I have a few options to offer you. These would be free downloadable content for you to access on signing up:
In the meantime I am going to busy rejigging the blogsite a bit to prepare it for the launch and make signing up more obvious. So please bear with me if you encounter any problems.
Thanks for reading and hopefully your feedback too
#subscribersignup #mailinglist #freebies
As most of you will know, our debut collection launched a few weeks ago on Kickstarter but sadly, had to be cancelled due to lack of pledges.
It was very clear, even from day one, that we were unlikely to reach the target, which would not have looked to good to any future prospective investors. So, I felt it would be less damaging to the brand to cancel it, than let it run it's course. The campaign was a test of the market and should have been proof of a good concept, but it showed that something was clearly not right. The vast majority of pledges were from friends and family, which of course we are very appreciative of, but don't go to show there is a wider market for our products. Most pledges were also for low amounts suggesting people weren't prepared to spend too much.
The launch was a culmination of a dream, and of course years of research, hard work and significant financial investment, so it was extremely disappointing. However, I have learnt a lot from it and hope to still be able to move on somehow. The brand and collection themselves have been really well received and since promoting it our mailing list subscribers have increased by 25% and our Instagram followers by 16%. So, I still firmly believe that they are strong products and that there is a demand for them.
Having done further research and sought advice from industry experts, as well as feedback from our followers on social media, it is clear that the prices were the main problem. If the costs I was paying to have the garments made had been lower giving me a higher mark-up, I would have been able to have offered special early bird discounts, bundled gift packs, and other incentives to backers that I couldn't do with the costs I had. I naively hoped that being able to pre-order the garments before they were available through the retail site would have been tempting enough.
Ethical and sustainable products, such as ours, will always command higher prices as workers are paid fairly and the highest quality materials used. Despite difficult times in the retail industry the ethical market is rapidly increasing, so I felt confident that we would find customers. But perhaps I was pitching the product too high in aiming for designer level? I must add here that this was not the reason for the high prices, rather that my costs dictated the prices and therefore the high market level.
Having gained over 34,000 unique readers on this blogsite (thanks everyone!) which currently equates to over 2,500 visitors a month, I was expecting much more of a turn-out with the campaign as this is my main audience. However, having looked at the analytics, I can see that I didn't advertise the campaign well enough and sadly it didn't get as much press attention as I had would have liked. As I am being to realise all too well, PR, marketing and social media management are jobs in themselves, which as a I am running this show single-handedly is maybe just too much. I was also unsure of how much of the product to reveal before launch which may not have helped, so it is much easier now to market the product in all it's glory, rather than a concept that people have to imagine.
Some people have suggested that I wasn't running the campaign for long enough, though actually this wouldn't have made any difference in reaching the target anyway for the reasons stated above. According to Kickstarter statistics, successful campaigns get a lot of pledges in the first couple of days as the buzz drives visitors to the site, then the pledges will dip right down in the middle of the campaign and pick up again at the end as people rush to pledge before it finishes. Their statistics also show that a "shorter duration better positions a project for success", so with that in mind I also had to consider being able to deliver the duffle coats within the best selling period of 'back to school' in September which within the long production schedule didn't give me any longer than two weeks to run the campaign.
So, what's next? I am determined not to give up and to relaunch again soon, with an aim to be delivering in time for Christmas. I am currently negotiating with new manufacturers and working to bring my costs down further in the hope of being able to provide lower price points. The campaign did show which products people were most interested in, namely the t-shirts, which is what I will focus on for relaunch. (I am even considering adding in a new Christmas print) I am also looking into involving outside agencies to help me with PR and marketing too as I know now that I cannot do it all!
So please stick with us and sign up to our mailing list so you can be the first to know when pre-orders will be available again. And thanks again for all your support and feedback x
I have been working on branding ideas for the Boy Wonder brand for well over a year now so I can get a trademark registered. A trademark according to the Oxford dictionary definition is; a symbol, word or words legally registered or established by use as representing a company or product. So this made me ask how do I represent everything the Boy Wonder brand will be through a symbol or words? What are the most important aspects about the brand that need to be represented in the trademark? I would say there are three key things to be expressed; that it's a boyswear label, that it's made in Britain and last but not least that it is a green/sustainable brand.
So I started looking at what other logos are out there and thinking about what works and at the moment there is a lot of nostalgia in graphics & branding. This harking back to 'better times' is maybe a bit of a comfort blanket but how long will this trend last? A logo and trademark needs to be classic and stand the test of time, so I feel that trends need to be avoided. Hand drawn elements also seem to proliferate and suggest an artisan feel which might work for my brand. However if not done carefully it could look childish and unprofessional. My instinct is that a combination of a modern sans serif (plain) and a handwritten or calligraphic typeface with the logo would work well.
So what should the logo be? While trying to capture the essence of being a green brand I looked at the idea of a tree or leaf logo but didn't feel it expressed the idea of children enough. Animals can work well as they can capture the natural world in a playful way. Some animals however, seemed too young for my brand such as hedgehogs or squirrels. I did dabble with idea of a wild cat too, but felt that it needed to be a British wild animal to show the British aspect. With this in mind a fox seemed to work for me. It is a beautiful and clever animal that in some way epitomises the natural world's fight for survival against human abuse. This appropriately reflects my reasons for establishing an environmentally aware company.
Another part of the trademark that needed some consideration was the strapline that accompanies the brand name and logo. The fact that it is boy's clothing is already suggested in the brand name, so the British-made part could be stated here. But how is this best done? I already know that I won't be able to source every fabric and component from the UK at this stage so it can't be said to be a 100% British product.
I have involved several creative friends and family members in the trademark's design process. At one point a sketch of a boy hugging a fox was sketched which seemed to be the ideal concept to me. The boy embodies the brand, the fox embodies the natural world and the friendship evoked portrays our hope to be as eco-friendly as possible.
So now I have decided on the design at long last I just have to get it registered and hope it will be approved. Fingers crossed! Let me know what you think
#brandidentity #fashionstartup #independantlabel
So now I am starting to have to make some big decisions regarding the business and the brand. The main one at the moment is what route to take to market. Should I sell the Boy Wonder product direct to customers through my own e-commerce site or should I sell wholesale to boutiques or department stores? Well, both have their benefits and their pitfalls and weighing it all up is quite difficult for a newbie like me.
Selling direct to customers has the obvious benefit of a higher profit margin as no one is taking thier cut along the way however more investment would have to be made into stock without knowing it will all sell. The costs of setting up a professional e-commerce site would also stretch my budget. To add to this I would have to spend a lot more time and energy in marketing the brand to let customers know who and where we are and what we do.
I had thought early on in my research that supplying a high end department store such as Selfridges or Harvey Nicholls would be the way to go. Large stores such as this would want a large volume of stock to sell which may not be possible when manufacturing in the UK. However maybe this is something to investigate and aim for further down the line.
Maybe a mixture of the two routes will eventually work best as it does for my competitors but as I am setting up and establishing myself its important to keep things focused and not spread myself too thin. If I can get two or three childrenswear boutiques interested in stocking some of the range then the brand will reach their already established customer base. This seems to be the best path for Boy Wonder right now so I am hunting out kids clothes shops that stock eco brands and will see if I can bring a little wonder to their lives!
Please let me know of any independent retailers that might be interested in stocking the Boy Wonder brand :-)
#BoysFashion #KidsClothesShops #Route2Market #Fashion
So how do all these things I have blogged about so far fit together and what am I going to do with it?
Well, here are my thoughts; I am going to create and produce a 'just for boys' fashion range but without the usual gender stereotypes. It will be a design led and a high quality, premium product, and to maintain sustainbility it will be 100% manufactured in Britain. This range will incorporate an essential British quirkiness with an influence from Scandinavia. It will celebrate great workmanship with beautiful Scottish knitwear and classic tailoring with strong, original printwork.
All fabrics will be GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) organic, recycled or sustainable and ethically sourced and produced. Dying and printing will be as low impact as possible being phthalite, NPE and AZO dye free. The garment design will work towards creating zero waste and have durability and longevity built in with adjustable waists, reinforced knees with repair kits and customising guides also available. The range will be trans-seasonal to prevent high season garments such as shorts going to waste due to inclament weather. It will also not be based on trends as this helps to create a need to discard when it's out of fashion. I will also consider some recycling or re-using scheme that would fit in with the business and product type.
I will be looking to get the supply chain SEDEX (Suppliers Ethical Data Exchange) registered to prove and improve sustainability throughout. Packaging and promotional items will be from recycled sources and distribution and retail channels with be chosen by their eco credentials. Marketing of the brand will highlight and encourage sustainability and there will be a strong element of charitable, social and community commitment. I hope to establish an eco office environment at some point too.
This is a lot to aim for so some of it may not be realistically achievable at the start but will be worked towards. Some of this might not make sense to you but you can follow my journey through the blog and on my social media channels too. I have lots of exciting ideas for the brand and if this excites you too please stick with me and witness the birth of a brand!
#BirthOfABrand #SustainableFashion #BoysClothes
The three keys things for me setting up this boys clothing brand are the sustainability side which I have already explored a little already, strong design and thirdly 'on shore' manufacturing.
Britain is the birthplace of the industrial revolution and textile manufacturing. It all began here in this tiny but amazing island back in the 18th century. In fact, much of the mechanised textile industry started near where I grew up in the midlands and where I studied in Manchester. The first cotton mill was built by Sir Richard Arkwright in Cromford, Derbyshire and just down the road, still running to this day, is the knitwear company John Smedley, who is the oldest factory manufacturer in the world.
I even worked in a garment factory myself in my home town when I was a teenager, sadly the factory shut down many years ago. This is part of why bringing back manufacturing to the UK means so much to me personally. I believe it is important to retain these vital skills and crafts in our country before they are gone. Not only that but it makes sense to me on many other levels: such as investing in our own economy and people, it is a greener option too as there would be no need to move products using carbon emitting shipping or air freight.
Ethical issues would be far more easily monitored and governed by stronger rules and regulations here in the UK as well. Granted, I may not be able to source everything I would need from the UK, in particular raw cotton for fabric. But it would make me very proud to be able to have a label in my first collection saying 'Made in Britain'. There is a real resurgence in interest in British made products and their provenance which I hope will work well for my brand Boy Wonder. I hope it piques your interest too and encourages you to want to buy British.
#MadeInBritain #UKManufacturing #SustainableFashion
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