About Make it British
Are you a UK manufacturer struggling against cheap imported goods and wishing more people knew about what a great service your company can offer?
Do you want to launch a brand and have it made in the UK but you don’t know where to start?
Do you manufacture in the UK but struggle to find ways to get the word out about your business?
Hi, my name is Kate Hills, and my mission is to help businesses like yours to find more customers so that UK manufacturing can thrive again.
How it all came about
It all started when I was working as an accessories buyer for Marks & Spencer in the 1990's.
I was there at the time when they moved nearly all of their production overseas. In fairness to M&S, they were one of the last to jump ship, but as their manufacturing base in the UK was so vast, it had a huge impact on much of the UK’s manufacturing industry.
I recall sad meetings where we'd tell UK manufacturers that M&S would no longer be buying their products as we had found a much cheaper supplier in China. It was devastating.
The closing of UK factories never sat comfortably with me.
Maybe it was because throughout the early part of my career manufacturing in the UK was a given. When I left fashion college I started my own brand, firstly making all of the clothes myself, and then setting up my own workshop with a team of machinists. I would never have thought of outsourcing the work abroad to get the clothes made.
I then went to work as a designer for a high street chain called Tammy Girl (remember them?). Nearly all of the manufacturing was done in the UK, and trips to CMT factories in North London and knitwear factories in Leicester were a big part of the job. We had great relationships with the factories and they were seen as part of the team
When I worked at Burberry the head office and design department were in the same building as the factory in Hackney. It was fantastic to have buying, design and manufacturing all in one building because not only did it help everyone understand the product lifecycle, but if there was a problem it was very easy to sort it out.
Then by the time I worked in my last role, as a buying manager for Debenhams, everything was made overseas. It meant that lead-times were long, and supplier negotiations were based on nothing but price.
As someone who had come from a background where quality and relationships mattered it was soul destroying.
I love nothing more than a visit to a factory...and I think that some of the best in the world are in the UK!
Why I believe UK manufacturing is so important
To me the offshoring of production seems very short-sighted.
Britain was a successful industrial nation for centuries - the industrial revolution started here after all - so why would we want to lose all that skill and the ability to make things on our doorstep?
Worried about the skills we were losing, I started to do some research on the brands and manufacturers that were left in the UK, and I found that despite what the majority of people thought, there were still lots of manufacturing being done in the UK.
Yes we've lost the mass-manufacturing that has gone to China, but what is left is some of the best craftsmanship in the world.
What did surprise me was how few people knew about the manufacturers that were left here. They'd been quietly getting on with their own thing. Selling by word of mouth. Many of them without a website.
I knew I had to do something to give these companies a voice.
So, in 2008, without really working out a proper plan, I jacked in my job in retail (which can as somewhat of a surprise to my husband!) and decided to set out on a one woman mission to save UK manufacturing…
Make it British started as a blog in 2011 out of a passion to help save UK manufacturing.
When I initially gave up my lucrative buying career I had no plan for how it was going to make me any money. But I somehow knew that if I did what I believed was right, somehow it would all be OK.
Since then I've helped hundreds of UK manufacturers and British-made brands to find more customers. Read on to find out how...
Make it British has been helping to give a voice to businesses that manufacture in the UK since 2011. Consumers need to know what they can buy that is made in Britain.
How I can help you
Do you manufacture in the UK, or are you simply interested in supporting UK manufacturing by buying products made in Britain?
If so, you're in the right place!