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‘Ask Kate’ Live Q&A – incl. a doggie visitor, feedback on a prototype, denim update, Muswell Hill Creatives and working with manufacturers

Here’s this week’s transcript of our ‘Ask Kate’ Q&A, which went out live on Facebook on Thursday 2nd February.

‘Ask Kate’ is your chance to pick the brains of Make it British founder Kate Hills on anything to do with buying British or UK manufacturing.

Join us every Thursday at 1pm on the Make it British Facebook Page .

**Sorry for the video quality this week – but at least it was the right way round this time. Still learning how to work this Facebook Live thing!**

We had some interesting questions last week and some things which I couldn’t answer at the time so I going to cover them  today.  We’re also going to be covering questions you can ask a manufacturer if you’re going to visit them for a first time, we’ll be putting a special call out to those people that are based in North London that might want to join a new group, we’ve got an update on denim manufacturers following on from last week, and we’re going to introduce you to some of the new members of Make It British.  What was the other thing Lauren, we’ve got one other thing at the end?

Here’s a very subtle clue, it’s dog related, so it’s something for all the dog lovers out there.

**Cue Lauren coming in with Poppy the dog**

You’ll have to wait to find out what that’s all about at the end…

Questions to ask a UK manufacturer

So the first thing I want to cover today is something that someone asked last week about what questions can you ask if you want to start working with a UK manufacturer. Now I actually sat down and had a big think about this and I’ve typed up 12 questions because I think there’s quite a few things that you can ask.  You can find the full list of questions to ask a UK manufacturer here. I’ve also done you a handy print-off PDF that you can print out so when you’re on the phone to that manufacturer or going to visit them you can tick them off as you go along.

But one thing I want to stress here really is that I think it is really important to go and visit a manufacturer, that’s the real advantage of working with them if they’re in the UK.  I would say use those questions to ring some manufacturers up, ring as many as you can possibly find, ask them some of the key questions such as what are your minimum order quantities and who else do you work with, so you can gauge an idea of whether they are the right manufacturer for you potentially.

Pick out two or three that you like the sound of on the phone and that meet your criteria, and then go and see them, that’s really important, and you can ask these questions to them face-to-face.

Getting buyer feedback on new prototypes

While we’re on the subject of product development, someone else contacted us via the live chat on our website this week to say that they’ve launched a new company and have developed a prototype, and they want to find out how they can get feedback on their prototype.

Should they come to a trade show and ask the exhibitors? Should they send it to buyers? 

Now I used to be a buyer and I would say that most buyers are very busy and they may not have the time to give you feedback. So I would say that one of the best things to do before you approach these buyers is to get feedback from the sort of people that are your target customers. Create a focus group. For instance, if you’re creating a product for children go to a parents’ group and ask the parents there for feedback on your product.  

I also think that social feedback is a great way of sort of justifying whether a product is right for your market. Get out there with an Instagram account or a Facebook account or even post something in our Buy British Facebook community and ask members for their feedback; it’s a great way of getting feedback from people who aren’t necessarily your friends or your family because they are going to say they like it whether you think they’re being honest or not.

And finally I also think that crowd funding is good too. So many people now are launching brands or new products on some sort of crowd funding platform such as Kickstarter. It really is a really good way of justifying whether there is a market for the product that you’re developing.

One thing I would say is don’t go to a trade fair with your product and expect an exhibitor at the trade show, who might be a potential manufacturer for you, to answer questions there and then about your product. They don’t usually have the time to do that. At our show we have 5,000 visitors and the exhibitors there really just want to take business cards and catch up with you afterwards and taking a product along may not be the best way of getting constructive feedback.

Muswell Hill Creatives Group

Just want to give a shout out to something interesting that came through in our Buy British Community from a lady called Rachael who runs the Muswell Hill Creatives. Rachael is looking for any creative people that are working with their own business and making things in the North London area to join the Muswell Hill Creatives Group – a fantastic group of makers in the North London area. (There should be this sort of thing all over the country).

If you live in North London, you make things and you are interested in joining the Muswell Hill Creatives you can find out more on their website here.

New Make it British Members

We have all sorts of businesses that make in the UK on the Make It British website and I just to give you an idea of the variety of different companies that you can find there. So far in the last couple of weeks we’ve been joined by: Barnes and Moore Leatherworks who make beautiful leather products, Geoff Stocker who makes fantastic men’s accessories in silk, furniture company Forest Sofa, Elgar Shirts making traditional British nightshirts, Rutland Plastics who do injection moulded plastics, more furniture from the English Bed Company, and Fazane Fox who has an apparel production business – so if you’re looking to develop clothing in the UK get in touch with Fazane.

Update on British-woven denim

Elizabeth Rees has just popped in to remind me of the denim question we had last week – “is there anyone making denim in the UK?”. I mentioned the London Cloth Company, and I knew there was another company and I’ve remembered who it is, I’ve done some research and they’re called the Bysshe Partnership. They have woven some fantastic indigo died cloths in Lancashire. Not true denim cloth, but they’re really beautiful fabrics. So check them out.

British-made dog brands

Right, now we’re going to tell you all why we’ve got Poppy the dog in today. Lauren do you want to come and tell us why Poppy’s here?

Poppy’s with us today because we have added a compilation of the best British dog accessory brands on the Make it British website- and you can find everything from collars, bandanas, jumpers, snuffle mats, treats. Everything you need for your dog.

All made in the UK.

There’s nearly 50 dog brands added already and you can find the list of the best British made dog accessories brands here.

I think we’re kind of coming to the end of today’s Ask Kate Q&. Don’t forget –  if you want to also keep up with what we’re doing at Make It British please do join our newsletter or join us on the Make it British Facebook page every Thursday at 1pm for our Facebook live Q&A.

Please leave your questions that you want answered in the comments below or talk to us via the chat box in the corner of this website.

Thank you very much for joining me and don’t forget – let’s Make It British, thank you, bye.


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