Hello everyone ,
We are now on day 5 of the campaign and at 40% of our funding goal.
We need to get things moving as the pledges have really slowed since the first day.
So, I have decided to implement a referral scheme offering you and anyone you refer 10% cashback.
All you have to do is head to our booster page following the link below.
Then copy your unique referral link and share it with whoever you can, online and in person.
Please note that this offer is only valid for new referrals you bring to the project and will not be valid against your original pledge.
Thanks again for all your support!
#crowdfunding #kickbooster #referralscheme
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
So it's finally here after years of work! I really hope everyone likes it as I have put so much into it. I am pretty pleased with it and am eager to get designing again now. There have been so many problems along the way and sometimes it felt impossible to achieve but I have also really enjoyed creating it all. I do feel a real sense of achievement because I have also done it on my own without a business or life partner. So although I've had advice from friends, family and business associates, all the decisions had to be made by me alone. I am hoping I made the right decisions and will have lots of lovely backers giving me good reason to crack open the bubbly next Sunday and celebrate my baby 'Boy Wonder' going out into the world.
We will be launching the Boy Wonder collection on Kickstarter for pre-orders before the retail site is launched in September. Please save the date!
SUNDAY 30TH JUNE
at 11AM BST
This will be the first chance to see the collection in full and see the video of the Boy Wonder story.
The cross-seasonal collection for 5-10 year olds comprises of duffle coats; a British design classic, hard wearing raw denim, practical cotton drill trousers and comfy jersey-wear to cover all the needs of a busy child's wardrobe. The garments feature bright, hand-drawn prints with a quirky British twist and follow circular design principles with in-built room for growth and care and repair products & guides.
If you want to be kept up to date with launch details and exclusive content including livesteam video of the collection please sign up to our VIP mailing list. This is early bird access to see the garments in detail and hear all about them before anyone else does. You can sign up on the contact page, on site pop up box or link above. Then follow us on Instagram and direct message me so I can add you to the VIP list. More details on this will follow very soon.
I will also be available on Twitter for a live Q&A on the collection from 8pm BST. Please join me to tell me what you think.
Click on the links above to follow us on social media and keep up to date with all the latest news.
Since I have started blogging and setting up the brand various people have asked me where is best place to shop for clothes? They are not asking about expensive ethical and eco brands but the shops that we can all find on the British high street. I always add to these conversations that it's better to buy second-hand or save up for an investment ethical piece than shop on the high street, but I do know that sometimes that's not possible. So, I have spent a long time researching and compiling a database to be able to provide the answer to this question for them and you; my lovely readers.
There are various consumer information sites that provide ethical and sustainability ratings on fashion brands. These include Ethical Consumer Magazine, the Good Shopping Guide and Rankabrand (who I have mentioned in a previous blog). They investigate brands and give them a score for different categories from how transparent they are through to whether they use renewable energy. The Ethical Consumer Magazine appears to be more well-established, with years of research behind them and seems more thorough in their critical appraisals. Rankabrand is mainly focused on German and Dutch brands but does feature some of the larger British companies. However, they all suggest quite different brands as being the best and all have a slightly focus.
These can be useful to look at simply to find out more information about your favourite brands but they all seem to have certain bizarre anomalies. I suspect this come from different ways of measuring and applying data but these anomalies make me feel slightly unsure about them. For instance the Good Shopping Guide rates River Island at 73, which is the same rating they give to Patagonia (one of the most environmentally conscious brands there are) and rates Fat Face even higher at 81, which from my research over the years I cannot agree with. There are also many reports by groups such as the Clean Clothes Campaign, Fashion Revolution and Greenpeace investigating whether brands actually live up to their commitments. These help to build a bigger picture to inform my decisions.
I used the comparison sites to help me create my own methodology with which to judge them by. I used many different markers to establish ranking, including being signatories to the Bangladesh Fire & Safety Accord, pledging to ZDHC (zero discharge of hazardous chemicals) and 'take back' schemes such as M&S's shwopping. There are far too many separate factors and areas I looked at to mention in full here, so I will simply give an overall summary on my findings. In this comparison I have focused solely on British fashion retailers and not included supermarkets. This amounted to 15 different brands, including 3 department stores, and one online-only retailer. For the sake of drama and suspense I shall count down from number 5!
No. 5 - Debenhams (Rating of 17.5)
Please note that Debenhams sells other brands alongside it's own. This scoring of them refers to the company itself and it's own products and practices. Debenhams uses 100% renewable energy to power it's stores[i] and are joint founders of Fast Forward auditing (see below). They also partner with the Salvation Army[ii] to divert waste from landfill. By collecting and donating unwanted clothing, textiles and shoes they also help raise funds for those in need. Debenhams also scored highly in the Good Shopping Guide.
No. 4 - Arcadia Group (Rating of 20.5)
In fourth place this large retail group includes Topshop, Miss Selfridge, Dorothy Perkins and others. Topshop have a strong animal welfare policy and got shortlisted in 2008 for the RSPCA good business awards[iii] and worked with PETA to campaign against the use of exotic animal skins[iv]. They have also sold limited edition collections of garments made from upcycled fabrics[v]. However, having a 'fast fashion' business model works against them, which is why the Good on You site gives them a rating of 3 out of 5 saying 'it's a start'[vi].
No. 3 - New Look (Rating of 22)
Even with cheap price points , New Look is still managing to score highly on ethics. (I wonder if this may be my anomaly, as low prices don't lend themselves to fair wages) They publish a list of their factories and rank midway in the Fashion Transparency Index[vii]. As they have stated recently that they are going to slash prices further[viii], I am not sure how they will maintain this. They also have a good animal welfare policy[ix].
No. 2 - ASOS (Rating of 29)
Second place goes to this online only site which is not strictly a high street brand, but it deserves a place in our list. Many of their garments are made in the UK and most of them at the ethically audited factory where our launch collection will be made. In fact they helped to set up, along with Debenhams, a stricter audit system called Fast Forward[x] whose need became arose from the Leicester sweatshop problems noted in the press a few years ago. Not only do they have their own eco edit[xi] they also sell second hand garments[xii] through the site too, thereby encouraging circularity. The sheer volume of their production however, does categorise them as a 'fast fashion' brand which does lower their score.
Drumroll please....and the winner is.....
No. 1 - Marks & Spencers (Rating of 32)
M&S's commitment to sustainability is evident in Plan A[xiii] which has been underway since 2007, years before many others started using the word 'sustainability'. They tick nearly every box for ethical and environmental commitment including having their own sustainable cotton ranges which use BCI (Better Cotton Initiative) cotton ensuring various ethical and environmental guarantees. They are also certified as carbon neutral and have even become a green energy provider[xiv] as well as giving away money to fund renewable energy projects[xv]. Ethical consumer magazine also put M&S in their top 5 ethical high street shops[xvi] and the Fashion Transparency Index rated them at 51%, the highest being 58%. These top two brands are head and shoulders above the rest and will hopefully convince others to follow their lead.
There were 5 brands that came in the middle of the rankings whose scores were less than half of those at the top. Although they are doing some things right, they could do a lot more in my opinion. These were Next, John Lewis, Monsoon, White Stuff and Oasis.
And the losers?
The bottom five brands in my research in consecutive order were Fat Face, River Island and Matalan with French Connection and Peacocks coming joint last place. Come on guys, you can do better than this!
If you do need to buy from the high street always remember that as consumers we can change things for the better with what we buy. Go for the brands 'eco' ranges and do ask questions. Do the garment workers get a fair wage? Does it really need plastic packaging? I hope this helps you to be more informed and conscious shoppers and to help those British brands that deserve our patronage.
And lastly, what do you think? Do you agree with my rankings? Are there any surprises there? I would love to hear your thoughts x
#ethicalfashion #sustainablefashion #britishhighstreet
As things are really starting to take shape here at Boy Wonder and the launch collection is starting to become a reality I thought you might like to have some background on how it has got to where it is now.
All designers will have their own way of working. When I was at college we always started with a mood board. This comes about from research based on the design brief and takes the form of a collage of images expressing and presenting the feel or concept behind the collection. It would include a colour palette and sometimes fabrics, shapes and print ideas too.
Often designers will look at what their competitors are doing for research either on a shopping trip or online, as it’s always good to know what’s going on in the industry. I have used Pinterest for many years to put together examples of designs that I like and things that inspire me. However, I wanted my designs to be really original and not like anyone else’s, so although a Scandinavian influence has come through I was careful not to just follow trends and look at things in my own unique way.
I have therefore used my childhood and British heritage as the inspiration for my collection. My mood board therefore evokes to me memories of holidays in a caravan in Wales, bright colours of the 1970s, retro TV, playgrounds, Fisher Price Toys and my school days (Oh, so long ago!).
This stage would normally come later on for most designers, but I wanted to use as many sustainable and British-made fabrics as possible, so I realised this had to be done earlier. I knew there would be limited variety of these specialist materials, so it was better to design around them rather than design a collection and find I couldn’t source what I needed for it. Thankfully, there are still some amazing British mills and artisan specialists that embody the quality British craftsmanship that I wanted to incorporate. See Byshee Partnership and Discovery Knitting for more details.
DESIGN & DEVELOPMENT
My design and development was done rather back to front too. In college, students traditionally set out their designs and ideas in a sketch book, but in industry you don’t have that luxury. Having churned out designs on a computer for work for many years, I found it quite difficult to get out of this habit. So, I started off creating my print designs this way and then developed my ideas and garments further in a sketchbook. It was great to get back into sketching again, although I felt quite rusty at first!
My collection incorporates the Duffle Coat; a British design classic, hard wearing denim, Scandinavian style knitwear and comfy jersey-wear to cover all the needs of a busy child’s wardrobe. It features original prints with a quirky British twist and some key design details to add interest for the child and parent alike.
The collection was finalised on computer with a line-up. This is what it says it is; a line-up of all the selected final garments or outfits in the collection. Technical illustrations are then created, which are like the blueprints of each garment and are used on the specification sheets for the manufacturers. These sheets contain all the necessary information on the garments including; fabrics, construction, stitching and additional components.
In order for me to draft my patterns I started with garments that had the fit that I liked and took lots of measurements from them. These were then used, with the help of a pattern drafting book, to draft my paper patterns. I haven’t drafted patterns since I finished my Master degree 14 years ago so it was a bit of a steep learning curve! For instance, the duffle coat has 23 separate pattern pieces and uses 4 different fabrics; wool coating, bamboo lining, wadding and interfacing. After the toile stage has tackled any problems or last minute design changes to the patterns, final pattern blocks are cut from card. These are the ones that the factory will then use to cut the samples from.
Toiles are prototype garments that are done in a cheap fabric, often cotton calico, to test out the pattern, fit and perfect the design before moving onto sampling in more expensive final fabrics. These are simpler renditions of the garment often not including finishing such as hems or components such as buttons and zips. Cotton calico is a plain, unbleached fabric that makes it easy to spot any problems and also for changes to be drawn straight onto the garment itself. I decided to make some of my toiles out of old clothes to reuse fabric and keep my costs down. This did however, have the effect of me wanting to fully finishing them as the ‘real’ fabric didn’t look right without the top stitching for example. So, I consequently spent longer on these than I really needed to. However, this is an exciting stage as the designs really start to come to life (although my sewing skills were sorely put to the test!)
As most of my garments have a printed element or all-over I have to try these out first too. Some of the printers I have used print off a colour chart on the fabrics first as a guide to get the colours right. Then strike-offs are done - these are test prints on a small amount of the fabric to check on quality and colours before final production printing.
This is the final stage before full production, where the garments are made up in correct fabrics with all finishing and necessary components. A sample of each size, in each style will also be made up, called a size set, to make sure all sizes fit correctly. Such samples in industry are often used to sell the designs to buyers or for marketing in the press. Sometimes they will go a further stage if the buyer wants changes and then may be called preproduction or shipping samples. These are sometimes sold later by the brand at a discount in a sample sale.
Samples will be done for me by the factory I am using as they have all the specialist equipment and are far more skilled than me! I am hoping to be able to start this stage in the next month, so keep reading and following us on social media to keep updated with our progress.
#creativeprocess #fashiondesign #fashionstartup
As part of the online Fashion and Sustainability course, created by the Centre for Sustainable Fashion and Kering, that I have just completed, we had to develop our own fashion manifesto and action statement. These are a great way to demonstrate our values, vision and commitments as a sustainable business so thought it would be good to share them with you here. Would love to hear your thoughts on this and hopefully it might inspire you to create a manifesto or statement of your own x
#fashionmanifesto #sustainablefashion #fashionforchange
There are many dirty secrets in the world of fashion and the issue of the destruction of unworn stock is maybe the most hidden. Deadstock is the term for such unwanted stock that has not sold for a variety of reasons; overproduction, defects, poor buying or design decisions and sometimes even the weather.
In 2017 the fast fashion giant H&M was accused of burning 12 tonnes of unsold garments a year. Investigators from a Danish TV show tracked where unsold garments went to and found a waste disposal company in Roskilde. It was here that they witnessed some 30,000 kids and ladies trousers being destroyed. H&M claimed that the garments did not meet their strict safety requirements either due to mould or chemical restrictions and therefore had to be incinerated. However, when tests were done on garments they managed to rescue and compared to identical ones sold in store, they found no difference. It is therefore reasonable to assume this was deadstock that the brand wanted rid of on the quiet.
The Swedish brand was previously accused of destroying unwanted garments back in 2010 when clothing that had been cut up with razors had been found dumped on Manhattan streets. After an uproar in the press H&M promised to not do it again, but the Danish disposal company claim to have incinerated 60 tonnes[i] of H&M deadstock since 2013. This has now become such an issue for H&M that they have recently admitted to having $4.3 billion[ii] in unsold clothes.
This destruction is sadly a common practice throughout the industry as backed up by many employees of other high street brands, who have been asked to cut up, burn or otherwise destroy unsold garments[iii].
“Potentially 10 million items of clothing become ‘deadstock’ every year. That’s a lot of clothes to miraculously make ‘disappear.’”[iv]
Clothing has been found outside Walmart stores with holes punched in it preventing it being worn[v] and Celio, a French retailer[vi] was slammed on social media after cutting up and discarding their unwanted garments. 42.9 tonnes[vii] of clothing, shoes and jewellery were also found to have incinerated by Bestseller, the Danish company behind Vero Moda, Vila and Jack Jones and Radio 4 exposed that jackets and sleeping bags were slashed and binned by the outdoor company, Millets.
This is not just a high street problem however, luxury labels are also at it as Orsola de Castro, who is a designer who utilises fashion waste in her work, says:
“The issues of incineration when it comes to fashion waste is nothing new. It is something that brands and factories alike have been doing for years. Luxury brands are the worst when it comes to incineration, as they would rather burn unwanted or damaged leather products then sell them as it may damage their reputation”[viii]
Some companies give their surplus to outlet or discount stores and some even to charity and staff but these are few and far between. This excess of hidden waste is particularly hypocritical from brands such as H&M who using recycling schemes tell us we need to recycle clothing. More needs to be done to tackle such hidden practices but unfortunately it is a symptom of the fast fashion system. Many of these brands drop new stock into stores every week and this speed and volume is where such problems arise. Purchasing fast fashion is therefore condoning this waste.
#deadstockdestruction #clothingincineration #fashionwaste
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
The last few months have been very difficult for me to keep going with the business. Keeping your spirits up and having the drive to soldier on is really hard, as most small business and start-ups will know. This is compounded for me by the fact I am doing it all entirely on my own.
The financial side of business is of paramount importance, but being a creative person I know this is not my area of expertise. However, I have plugged away at the financial planning so that I should feel prepared for what I am investing into. After months and months of getting manufacturers quotes and suppliers prices in, I now have informed estimates of what my garments are going to cost to make. However, these costings are higher than your average garments due the premium nature of the product, using organic/eco fabrics and making in Britain doesn't come cheap! After contacted several independent boutiques with a mind to stocking my clothes with them, I checked what their mark-up would be. Adding this 250-300% mark-up on top of my own costs and tiny profit made my prices completely unsellable.
So I have had to completely go back to the drawing board in regards to my route to market strategy. It seems to me that really my only option is to have my own website and retail myself. I have spent weeks redoing all my financial planning to work out whether this will be viable. The garment costings are thankfully now coming in with workable price points but my cashflow and income statement spreadsheets don't look good! The big difference between going wholesale and retail is that I will carry all the risk and have to invest into a large amount of stock to sell on the site without really knowing if anyone is going to buy it!
One idea to help create interest and generate pre-orders is through a crowdfunding campaign. This seems to have worked well for other fashion start-ups so could be worth a try. Although, even with a large cash injection such as that, I am struggling at the moment to see how I can balance the books and be able to ever make a profit.
I am undaunted though and shall keep working at it until I find a solution, through perseverance or expert advice. I really believe in what I am doing and have put so much into it already that I will not let it go to by the way-side. There will be an answer somewhere, I am sure, to how I can set up the brand without completely over stretching myself at the start.
So wish me luck, and please keep reading to show your support and follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest too. It all helps!
#FashionStartup #smallbusiness #mumboss
As I am finalising my designs and collection range ideas I am starting to make decisions on not only how the collection should look and what garments it needs, but also how it will work for the customer (mums) and the consumer (boys).
The look of the collection has evolved (very!) slowly from my design research and mood ideas through to the fabrics I have sourced. I deliberately want the colours to be quite bright to get away from the bland high street colours for boys of navy, brown and grey. The inspiration for the print work in this collection is my childhood. The prints encompass some of the fun, innocence and the nostalgia of childhood with a dash of British eccentricity.
That stage then lead into what types of garments would comprise the collection. The British element comes through again here with classic favourites such as the duffle coat and blazer but added in with that will also be some Scandinavian style knitwear, functional jeans and denim dungarees and quirky printed shirts and jerseywear. At the moment I have ten different shapes in mind with maybe some of those available in different prints and colours. However this is still work in progress and maybe I am setting myself an impossible task I don't know! It may be that I have to cut down the range to keep within budget and what I can realistically manage to achieve.
I want to create a kind of capsule style wardrobe with different garments working alongside each other. Mixing together some casual styles which are practical and comfortable with more formal ones will cover all the bases needed. My experience of being a mum and shopping for the Boy Wonder is that I have to go to different shops to find different types of garments that I like. So the idea of a one stop shop for everything you need appeals to me and hopefully will to others too. I know busy mums have so little time these days that anything that makes their life easier is a real winner. Quality, longevity and durability are designed into the garments which will mean less time spent shopping for new clothes too. I love the idea of being able to suggest outfit and styling ideas to get the very most out of the different garments and that works best with a capsule style collection.
The other main design decision is that it will be a trans-seasonal collection to fulfil my slow fashion ethos. This means that rather than doing the traditional spring/summer and autumn/winter collections I will only design one collection that will cover the whole year. In our mild UK climate this will work as most of our clothes can be worn throughout the year with less or more layers. Those items become more useful in our wardrobes, thereby shrinking our fashion footprint and reducing textile waste.
I am nearly at a stage now where I will be approaching manufacturers with my designs. This will be a massive step for me as at that point it will no longer be a concept but will start to become very real (eek!) Keep reading to find out what happens next!
#CapsuleCollection #Transseasonal #DesignDecisions
This week I made another trip to London to go to the Meet the Manufacturer tradeshow. This was exactly what it says it was - a chance for designers to find manufacturers who can realise their project dreams and produce their products in the UK. The show, now in it's third year, was set up by the Make it British team who also ran the Make it British forum back in October that I was lucky enough to attend. They are doing an amazing job in bringing together the great manufacturers we still have in the UK (yes, there really are some left!) and their counterparts to help create high quality British products that are sought after across the globe. In fact a recent survey showed that British made products are considered to be fourth best quality in the world. This is reflected in the revival for British made goods as manufacturers are reporting a 25-30% increase in demand compared to a few years ago.
There were over 170 suppliers to the fashion, textiles and homewares industry at this year's show including leather goods manufacturers, fabric mills, knitwear factories and printers to name but a few. Throughout the two days of the show there were also seminars by industry leaders on various different topics around making in the UK, a wool room, a brand hall, live workshops and demonstrations of hat making and pattern cutting for example and an ask the expert area. The brand hall showcased lots of different products all made in the UK from silk scarves, to shoes and even underwear. This all went to show the diversity of skills we still have in this country and the great wealth of creativity and talent that we nurture.
I met many very interesting people and companies including knitwear manufacturers; Crystal Knitwear and Harley of Scotland, Think Positive Prints - a digital textile printing company, Team Tots -a childrenswear manufacturer and CFS - a fashion sampling studio. Some of these I hope to be able to work with on my launch collection. It was really useful to meet these contacts face to face to get a feel of whether they will be suitable for what I am trying to achieve and also to gain expert advice and opinion. I even got some very encouraging feedback on my design ideas which really helps to spur me on!
If you too are looking for British manufacturers here are some helpful directories; one by Make it British, one by the Leicestershire Textile Hub here and another by UKFT.
*Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.
#MeetTheManufacturer #MakeItBritish #StartupBrand
Now I am starting to look for fabrics, components and packaging for my launch collection I find Brexit on my mind. How will it affect the UK fashion industry and how will it impact on my business?
The fashion industry contributes over £28 billion to the UK economy and supports 880,000 jobs. It is a global leader in creativity, innovation and business. However, if the standard World Trade Organisation rules are followed it would mean a 12% tariff on all clothing imports. As I want to manufacture in the UK this wouldn't apply to me but from that we can assume there is also likely to be a tariff placed on any raw materials sourced from overseas. Sourcing as much as possible from the UK would mean we could avoid such levies and also the possibility of goods spending a long in customs while tariff payments are checked.
Following the vote to leave the Sterling plummeted against the Euro and the Dollar which means brands having to spend more money to create the same amount of clothing. For some brands it will start to be less cost effective to be producing off shore, which could mean many consider UK manufacturing again. While this would be great for the UK economy it could make it harder for me to get a look in at the factories. The advantage to manufacturing in the UK would mean less exposure to such currency fluctuations particularly.
The curb on immigration post-brexit would mean the loss of many of the highly skilled workers who help put together a collection who are from Eastern European where sewing skills are taught in schools. Sadly since most UK fashion production went offshore we haven't been training many of young people so there will be a real acute shortage. Some companies have stated that they are likely to lose a third of their staff, and for some London factories it's more like 70%. As a small start-up company I will not be a priority for any factories, short staffed or not, so I will have to build a good strong relationship with the right manufacturers.
Consumer confidence will undoubtedly be affected as price increases on all imported goods will mean people have less money in their pocket to spend. Clothing is something people can always cut back on so the fashion trade could feel real shockwaves from this, possibly premium brands like Boy Wonder especially. However, being a children's clothing brand may insulate us from this somewhat as kids always keep growing and need new clothes.
Many other brands will be affected by the increased cost of foreign travel as they visit factories, suppliers and tradeshows abroad. This could present an advantage for me as I will be UK based and as localised as possible. A local manufacturing base means quicker delivery and less environmental impact. Being able to visit the factories and suppliers and deal with problems quickly will give me a strong chance of success.
The biggest advantage in Brexit for me is the increased interested in British made goods. The UK textile business is seeing a resurgence at the moment with positive signs such as cotton spinning returning to the country for the first time in a generation. An amazing 5000 new jobs were created in the UK textile manufacturing sector in 2015 and by 2020 a further 15,000 are expected. So let's hope this is the start of a British revival!
#Brexit #UKFashion #SustainableFashion
Now I am starting to source fabrics for the launch collection I am beginning to realise just how difficult this is. I want to use not only sustainable fabrics such as organic cotton or bamboo but also want the fabrics and components such as zips and buttons to be made in Britain. I can hopefully be more certain of the suppliers ethics and the product's provenance if I am sourcing from UK manufacturers. However I am making it doubly hard for myself in wanting both eco credentials and British made goods.
There seems to be very little organic cloth available in the UK at the moment but I am hoping this will increase over time. I have discovered Discovery Knitting (excuse the pun!) who knit GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) certified organic jerseys and are based near me. So that's my t-shirts and sweatshirts covered with very little fuel emissions at my end.
There is also the Organic Textile Company who are based in Wales and hold a varied range of fabrics from denim to cotton poplin for shirts. They buy in their fabrics from GOTS certified mills in India, Turkey and China, many of which are made on small hand looms in an artisanal way. The company return some of their profits to help the Indian weavers they work with and support local initiatives. I would rather use British made goods to create an authentically British product but I shall have to compromise on this until more becomes available.
Offset Warehouse have a variety of sustainable fabrics that are ethically sourced but none were suitable for what I needed.
Both these companies will not be able to cover all my fabric needs so I am also looking into a some British woollen weavers who are over 175 years old. It would be amazing to include this textile heritage into the collection, even though they don't stock organic products.
As for components and trims there are not many UK manufacturers left. I managed to find one button manufacturer Courtney & Co. who use corozo to make buttons. These are made from the nut of the Tagua tree from central America, which is a highly sustainable and eco-friendly material. However they only make one style of button and I will need more than that so again I will have to re-think my options until I can find other products.
So if anyone can recommend any UK textile mills making sustainable fabrics or UK manufacturers making eco friendly components please let me know :-)
#SustainableFashion #OrganicFabrics #MadeInBritain
Meet the Manufacturer
The Creative Process
On Monday I attended the Bubble childrenswear tradeshow in London. The Business Design Centre in Islington was bustling with buyers and over 200 different brands showcasing not only childrenswear but maternity, interiors, footwear, accessories and gifts. There were many inspiring labels and beautiful garments and even some seminars on aspects of the fashion business including designing, manufacturing and buying.
Some of the labels I was particularly interested in were organic, ethical and/or made in Britain. The Pop stands showcased fledgling designers and small brands. Among these were Two Little Magpies, a rising star finalist whose monochrome designs work to stimulate babys visual cortex. Their cute clothes contain design motifs to stimulate creative play, languages and learning. The garments are all made in the UK and use ethically sourced materials which are ecologically sound.
The Great British Baby Company won the Green Ambassador award (Congrats guys!) for their beautiful children's coats and accessories range. As the name suggests they are made in Britain using traditional techniques by companies that are over 170 years old. Heritage and luxury are embodied in their classic products that are designed to be treasured from one generation to the next.
A babywear company called Hello Mum also caught our eye also being made in the UK with ethically sourced materials. This brand who were another rising star finalist create baby gifts presented in a box with a hand written note for new mums to cherish.
All the best to these inspiring women and their creative businesses. :-)
#TwoLittleMagpies #GreatBritishBabyCo #HelloMum
John Lewis also deserve a mention for being an inspiring business model by having an ethos of partnership and mutual benefit. The happiness of all it's members is the partnership's utlimate purpose according to it's constitution written by the founder John Spedan Lewis back in 1928. This vision of co-ownership with employees as members was very radical at the time but has helped to establish the flourishing and well respected brand we know and love today.
The profit sharing strategy and guiding principles means employees are put first, which was rare back then and is arguably still rare today. The seven principles included in the constitution are still the foundations of the business today and include sourcing responsibly and minimising any detrimental effect thier operations have on the environment.
The company is actively lowering their carbon emissions through various different projects such as energy saving measures in all stores, solar panels and waste reduction. Contributing to the well being of the community was another part of the consititution that is still a priority for them. Through trusts and foundations they support many different projects including wildlife conservation, empowerment and livlihood projects and emergency relief efforts.
On the boys clothes side of things they also stock a few of the brands I have already given a shout out to including Frugi and Polarn O Pyret. Others labels they stock have also adorned the boy wonder like Hatley and Joules.
And who doesn't love their Christmas ads!
#JohnLewis #ProfitSharing #CSR #BritishHighStreet
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