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 at 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. 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!)
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
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