Kate Hills

Kate Hills is the founder and editor of Make it British. After 20 years working as a designer and buyer for brands such as Burberry, Levis and M&S, she became disillusioned with the short term vision that many of them had about where their products were sourced. Determined to do something to promote British manufacturing and brands who's products are made in Britain, she set up the Make it British website, a leading source of information on products made in the UK> She lives in a mid-century bungalow in Surrey and in her spare time she is studying for a masters degree in internet retailing.

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We’ve teamed up with contemporary menswear brand Realm and Empire to offer you the chance to win one of their knitted accessory sets.

This luxury prize contains a Realm and Empire Knitted Commando Beanie & Knitted Rib Scarf in a branded R+E gym bag – worth £100

Made from British Wool and Hand-crafted in Leicestershire – this chunky rib scarf and hat set will keep you toasty now that the weather has turned colder ❄️

To enter simply visit our Instagram page here

Enter our competition on Instagram to win a luxury baby sleeping bag from Superlove Merino

We’ve teamed up with baby and childrenswear brand Superlove Merino to offer you the chance to win one of their award-winning baby sleeping bags.

Natural and Luxurious, each sleeping bag is generously lined with 240gsm double knitted merino for optimal comfort and thanks to the unique power of merino wool, improved sleep quality all year round. The outer of the sleep bag is made from 100% Organic Cotton – natural, pure and cloud soft to snuggle into.

Superlove Merino baby sleeping bags can be worn from summer to deepest winter without the need for different tog value bags or the use of fillers or padding. Ideal for use in nursery temperatures ranging from 16 to 27°C. The winner will be able to choose from two prints and two sizes (0-2, 2-5 years).

To enter simply visit our Instagram page here

Going camping? We’ve got you covered. In our ultimate guide to British-made camping equipment.

We bring you our Top 20 of British-made products and accessories to make your camping trip as comfortable, stylish and enjoyable as possible. We just can’t guarantee you the weather!

Shackleton

Shackleton British camping

Shackleton men’s clothing

Shackleton offer mens clothing that is both stylish and durable, perfect if you want to look good whilst camping.

The All in One Company

The All in One Company

The All in One Company

If you are camping in the UK there is one thing for sure, the nights will get chilly. We wouldn’t dream of camping without our All in One Company onesies!

Alpkit

Alpkit Backpack British Camping

Alpkit Backpack – british camping equipment

Alpkit make technical clothing and equipment in their own UK factory. The brand was started by four friends with a love for the Alps and a knowledge of the kind of equipment they need for their pursuits.

Aquapac

 

Aquapac British Camping

Aquapac waterproof phone pouches

Aquapac has been a leading light in the waterproof bag world for well over 30 years now. Perfect for keeping your phone dry if the UK weather lets you down on your camping trip!

Bailey Caravans

Bailey British Caravans

Bailey Caravans

Bailey of Bristol are manufacturers of caravans and motorhomes in the UK.

Barefoot Caravans

Barefoot British Caravans

Barefoot Caravans

A modern classic with retro styling, Barefoot caravans will accommodate you in style wherever you dream of going.

Blue Diamond

UK manufacturer of effective cleaning solutions, caravan care products and convenient accessories.

Buffalo

Buffalo British Sleeping Bag

Buffalo Sleeping Bag – British equipment equipment

Outdoor clothing and sleeping bags for the serious outdoor activist.

Caranex

Caranex British Awning

Caranex Awning

A unique vehicle tent – a car annex – to exploit the space and convenience of your own vehicle.

Elddis

Elddis British Caravans

Elddis Caravans

A leading UK manufacturer of caravans and motorhomes for some seriously luxurious camping.

Field Candy

Field Candy Tent

Field Candy Tent

FieldCandy is a brand of outdoor products created to add some stylish flair to the outdoor space. Their range includes a variety of printed tents and event matching ponchos!

Romney’s Kendal Cake

Romneys’ have been making their world famous Mint Cake in the heart of Kendal for 100 years. It is a popular choice of snack and energy for explorers and campers alike.

Lunar Caravans

Lunar British Caravans

Lunar Caravans

Lightweight caravans and luxury motorhomes made in the UK for over 50 years.

Mess Tins

MBritish Army mess tins manufactured in the UK. Perfect for eating your campsite-cooked meals!

Multimat

Multi MatMulitmat are makers of the world’s best sleeping mats for outdoor enthusiasts.

Terra Nova

Terra Nove British-made tent

Terra Nova Tent

Designer and Manufacturer of Outdoor clothing and equipment, including these fabulous tents.

The Ghillie Kettle Company

The Ghillie Kettle Company British camping

The Ghillie Kettle Company

The Ghillie Kettle has produced camping kettles for centuries and they still manufacture them in the age old traditional way.

 

Enter our competition on Instagram to WIN a pair of personalised Egyptian Cotton socks by Pantherella 

We’ve teamed up with Pantherella to give you the chance to win a pair of personalised Egyptian cotton socks.

The lucky winner can choose from 12 colours and then select up to 7 characters in gold or pewter stitching to go on the socks.

Pantherella have been making the world’s finest socks since 1937 from the most luxurious fibres. From their early beginnings in the hosiery business Pantherella has strived to be at the forefront of technology, innovation and designs that surpass even the highest of expectations.

All of Pantherella socks are still made in their family owned factory in Leicester by highly skilled craftspeople whom have passed their expertise down from generation to generation to help set Pantherella apart from other brands.

To enter simply visit this post on our Instagram page here.

Enter our competition on Instagram to win a beautiful pair of wedding shoes for a lucky bride-to-be

We’ve teamed up with Freed of London to give you the chance to win a pair of their hand-crafted wedding shoes.

When you step into a pair of Freed of London shoes, your feet will touch years of history, experience and expertise in making the finest handcrafted shoes.

Their experience in the world of dance ensures their shoes are engineered to bring you the utmost comfort and support on your special day.

Designed with exquisite details and made in England from the finest components, your will cherish your comfortable wedding shoes that were not only the perfect accessory to a memorable day, but a joy to wear; providing you with the comfort to stand all day and dance all night without the worry of tired feet.

The lucky bride-to-be can choose from one of three styles (Rose, Penny or Olivia) in off-white satin and a 2.5″ heel.

To enter simply visit this post on our Instagram page here

We recently interviewed Adam Mansell, CEO of the UK Fashion & Textile Association. Read the interview to find out how his organisation helps fashion brands and what they are doing to support UK manufacturers

Hi Adam, can you tell us a little about the UKFT and what your organisation does?

The UK Fashion and Textile Association (UKFT) is the leading network for fashion in the UK. We do a significant amount of work in business development for small fashion brands. We take 700 companies to overseas trade shows every year; help brands break into overseas markets such as Japan and the US; introduce them to the best buyers and retailers in those markets; help them understand the legalities to internationalise their websites and help with the technical aspects of building up a fashion brand. One of the things we also do for fashion brands is introduce them to UK manufacturers. We have a lot of manufacturers in membership, both garment and textiles. We help broker relationships, making sure that both sides understand the needs of the other one. We offer a very specific matchmaking service making sure that the manufacturer that we put the brand in contact with can actually work with that particular brand, whether it be a need for a small production run or specialist technical textiles for example.

You also have a database of manufacturers, can you tell us about that?

We have a free to use database at letsmakeithere.org. It includes around 350 manufacturers, everything from yarn spinners through to cut make and trim. It covers manufacturers from the very North of Scotland, down to Devon and Dorset. It’s got a huge range of manufacturers you can search for by category and specialism.

If I was starting a small fashion brand and wanted to find out about things like finance, would you be able to help with that?

Absolutely. You can either join us as a member or you can come along to our seminars. We run about 50 seminars every year, predominantly in our offices in Central London. They cover everything from how to prepare your business for finance to how to protect your intellectual property rights. We also do round tables on how to work with the Scandinavian market. There’s a huge amount of information that the UKFT supply to both members and non-members because we’re here to help the industry within the UK grow.

Can you tell me more about the manufacturers that the UKFT represents?

We have a number of different manufacturers in membership. We have about 20 in London, and we look after them as a specialist cluster because they have particular issues around premises needs, but we also have textile manufacturers elsewhere in the UK that are members, such as in Yorkshire and Scotland, and we help them through all sorts of different avenues. Some of it is linking with brands and retailers, but we also get heavily involved in environmental issues, so we’re helping big manufacturing companies reduce their carbon footprint.

How do you think Brexit is going to affect UK manufacturers and brands and how is the UKFT helping?

We are lobbying very hard with the government and the European Union to make sure they understand the needs of our industry. UK manufacturing has been growing for the past four or five years. We produce over £9 billion worth of product here in the UK and we employ over 105,000 people in manufacturing. One of the things that is driving that growth is the fantastic skill base that we bring in, predominantly to the cut make and trim manufacturers, from Eastern Europe. We need to make sure that the government understands that whatever immigration system comes in, it’s not just for the doctors and the lawyers, but also for the people that are actually driving the manufacturing economy in the UK and that includes those incredibly talented seamstresses and cutters. We’re also talking about tariffs, because although UK manufacturing will grow as a result of Brexit, the uncertainty about tariff rates means that retailers and brands are beginning to look at how we can we bring some of our manufacturing back to the UK. We need to make sure that the government understands that there is a skills need and that there is investment in UK manufacturing to make sure that there is the capacity to meet the needs of the retailers.

Occasionally there is some bad press about UK manufacturing, and there was one such article yesterday in The Times recently. Can you give me your thoughts on this?

The article in The Times had a chief executive from a leading retailer brand the vast majority of UK manufacturers as working unethically. I would absolutely 100% categorically refute that claim. There are some bad apples, as unfortunately there are some companies who completely flout the law. The UKFT utterly condemn those practices. However, there are absolutely fantastic manufacturers in the UK who pay way above national minimum wage. The London manufacturers we work with mostly pay the London living wage, which is even higher. We have companies up in Scotland who have over 100 apprentices in their businesses. There are some wonderful businesses doing everything they can to raise the profile of UK manufacturing and it is completely wrong to condemn all of UK manufacturing by the disgusting practices of one or two.

adam mansell ukftIf someone wants to find out about a career in manufacturing how would you recommend they do that

You can get into manufacturing either through a degree route and then finding your local manufacturer, or through the apprenticeship route. I think if I had my time again I’d be looking at apprenticeships, you get you earn while you learn and get a whole range of fantastic skills. Most of it is learnt on the job, not in classes, you’re actually on the factory floor and there are apprenticeships in all different parts of manufacturing. One of the issues that we have is the huge disconnect of the perceived attractiveness of careers in manufacturing as opposed to careers in design. There’s around 15,000 people on fashion design courses in the UK, and they’re not all going to become the next Stella McCartney. What we need to do is make UK manufacturing a much more attractive career. At the Meet the Manufacturer event, we did an interview panel with three young people, all under the age of 30 and all of whom had chosen to work in manufacturing because they understood it was a long-term career where they could have a huge knowledge base and a huge number of skills. They absolutely love working in manufacturing and they love dealing with designers and solving problems.

Can young people contact you if they’re interested?

We can certainly help place young people into all sorts of different manufacturing careers. The easiest way to contact us is via our website at ukft.org.

If you would like to find out more about becoming a member of the UKFT click here.

Enter our competition on Instagram to win this stunning, high-neck black British-made swimsuit by swimwear brand To Dive For

british-made swimsuit

Simply go to our Instagram and follow the instructions to enter the competition.

You will need an Instagram account to take part. Closing date: 12th August at 11am. Entries received after the closing date will not be included in the prize draw.

*Competition is only open to UK residents. See our terms and conditions for full details.

Missed the competition? No problem, we have other competitions you can enter here

Recent figures show that UK exports of British-made products are at their highest for 7 years. If you are a British-made brand or UK manufacturer and you’re not exporting then you’re missing out.

exporting your British-made brand

11 Reasons why you should be exporting your British-made brand

The latest Purchasing Managers Index shows that exports of UK made products are increasing.

We’ve seen a big increase in overseas visitors to the Make it British website since the Brexit vote in 2016. Check out the graphs at the bottom of this post to see the growth in our visitors from the USA and Asia as evidence.

The IHS Markit/CIPS UK Manufacturing PMI August 2017

The IHS Markit/CIPS UK Manufacturing PMI August 2017

If you’re a British-made brand and not taking advantage of this then you should be!

Here are our 11 reasons why all British-made brands should have an export strategy.

1. Overseas shoppers associate British products with quality There is data to prove that shoppers in other countries see British-made products as better quality. In fact, the Made in UK label is one of the most respected in the world.

2. British design is world-renowned You can capitalise on this by showing off your product’s design credentials overseas.

3. Different seasons around the world helps to sell seasonal product all year round If you sell a product such as swimwear exporting can help you sell to countries that are much sunnier than the UK. The same goes for cold weather products too.

4. Selling worldwide offers a much larger customer base to tap into The British Isles are relatively small – when you export the world is your oyster!

5. Having customers in different countries spreads your risk If all of your customers are in the UK and our economy goes down the toilet then you’ll still have overseas customers to sell your products to.

exporting British-made brand

Increase in visitors from the US to the Make it British website since the Brexit vote in 2016

6. You’ll sell more products Expanding your customer base you’ll sell more products which in turn means you can increase the size of the orders that you place with your manufacturer.

7. It could give you the edge over your competitors If your competitors are not already exporting then you can bet that they are thinking about it. You want to get your product to those all-important International buyers as soon as you can.

8. You can make more profit on each product Often selling to International markets can command higher ticket prices than selling at home. You are, after all, selling a luxury British-made product.

9. Exporting increases a product’s lifespan Most products have a certain amount of time that the customer is interested in buying them. By reaching out to new markets you’ll extend the longevity for each product as trends come and go in different countries.

10. You can describe your company as an ‘International Brand’ This puts your business into great company and in turn increases your brand profile.

11. Exporting helps the UK economy This one needs no explanation…

exporting british brand

Increase in visitors from Asia to the Make it British website since the Brexit vote in 2016

If you are looking to export then there are several places you can go for help such as the UKTI. The UK Fashion & Textile Association is also very useful if you are a fashion brand.

Below is a video of a talk by Paul Alger from the UKFT at our Make it British Forum in 2016. Full of lots of useful information about exporting a British-made fashion brand.

The following article appeared in Drapers Magazine, July 2017

A return of manufacturing to the UK was only a matter of time

Drapers July 2017

‘A return of manufacturing to the UK was only a matter of time’

As interest in reshoring grows, Make it British founder Kate Hills says retailers that really want to make it happen should invest in their own factories.

Clarks plans to open a brand new factory to bring its shoe production back to the UK may be considered a brave move, but to me it seems like a logical step that will pave the way for others to follow suit.

When I first had the idea for Make it British in 2008 it was apparent to me that brands and high street retailers would not be able to continue relying so heavily on the Far East to source clothing and textiles. A return of some manufacturing to the UK was only a matter of time.

Any buyer will have seen cost prices rise during the course of their career, and the weakness of sterling and exchange rate issues since the Brexit vote has compounded this difficult situation. Once all undue overheads have been stripped out of the supply chain, the only way for prices to go now is up.

Also take into account the fact that the growing Chinese middle class don’t want to buy product made in China anymore, while customers are becoming more savvy about ‘British brands’ that don’t actually make in Britain.

Together with an increasing interest in sustainable and transparent supply chains, and a demand for faster turnaround of product, makes UK manufacturing once more a very viable prospect.

Over the last few years I’ve had many conversations – with everyone from small start-ups to big retailers – UK sourcing. Everyone is looking for local factories so that they are no longer entirely reliant on overseas sourcing, especially since Brexit.

Not only does making in the UK protect against the unpredictability of exchange rates, but orders placed closer to the season help to ensure that a business is not holding unwanted stock. Fashion retailers such as Boohoo and ASOS react quickly to trends and customer demand, and they do that in part by manufacturing some of their product closer to home – Boohoo source 50% of its product from UK factories.

However, the big issue is that big sewing factories with rows and rows of machinists, like those in China, just don’t exist in the UK. The largest sewing factory here has probably no more than 150 machinists, and they make furniture covers not clothes. Finding skilled machinists is one of the biggest barriers to growth, and the training of staff is not going to happen over night.

When it comes to clothing factories, those with the most machinists are generally making exclusively for their own brand – for example, David Nieper and Barbour. Even those that once made exclusively for others, are now creating their own in-house brands, such as Private White V.C. in Manchester.

The solution for brands that want to resume volume manufacturing in the UK is to open their own factory. This cuts out the costs of intermediaries and allows them to put what they want on the production line, when they (and their customer) want it. It does of course mean a larger investment at the beginning, but will reap rewards in the long run.

Clarks has announced that they will be concentrating on making its Desert Boot at its new UK factory, which makes sense. Not only is it an iconic product worthy of a ‘made in Britain’ stamp, but manufacturing just one style of product simplifies the production line and improves factory efficiency.

The new Clarks factory will apparently be using robot-assisted technology, which negates the need for skilled labour, which in the UK is in such short supply. Automation has worked wonders for the UK car industry, where companies such as Toyota and Nissan use robots on the production line.

The use of state-of-the-art technology to make production efficient is something that is already working for some of the UK knitwear factories, as well as enabling cotton spinning to return to the UK at English Fine Cottons mill in Manchester.

Let’s not pretend that there is going to be a sudden influx of brands and retailers opening factories in the UK. Clarks have no doubt be planning this for a long time, and opening a factory on this scale is not opened overnight. However, what I hope that what it will do is give any of those businesses that are wondering how they are going to increase their UK manufacturing the courage to think that investing in their own factory could now be a viable option.

As Clarks announces plans for a factory to bring its shoe production back to the UK, we look at why and how other retailers and brands can follow suit

david nieper factory

The David Nieper factory in Alfreton is currently one of the largest in the UK

Shoemakers Clarks have announced that they will shortly be resuming the production of shoes in the UK by opening a brand new factory in Somerset. They last made shoes in the UK in 2006.

What has brought on the turnaround? And should others look at doing the same?

Since I first had the idea for Make it British in 2008 it was apparent to me that the British high street would not be able to continue sourcing everything from the Far East with the rate that prices were going up in China. Having been a buyer for some of the big store groups I had seen cost prices double in a decade. And I knew that once all undue overheads had been stripped out of the supply chain the only way for prices to go was up.

It knew that in the next ten or even twenty years, as the cost of overseas production continued to rise, that UK manufacturing would return. That’s why I set up Make it British in 2011, as a platform for supporting and promoting the manufacturing that we had left in the UK.

Since I launched Make it British I’ve had many conversations with big retailers right through to start-ups about their UK sourcing strategies. Everyone is looking for local factories so that they are no longer entirely reliant on overseas sourcing, especially since Brexit.  Not only does making in the UK protect against the unpredictability of foreign currency rates, but it also helps to ensure that a business is not holding loads of stock, as orders can be place closer to when your customer wants the product.

Fashion retailers such as ASOS and BooHoo have gone from strength to strength by making more in Britain. In fact, BooHoo source 50% of their product from UK factories.

However, the problem is that big sewing factories with rows and rows of machinists, like those in China, just don’t exist in the UK. The largest sewing factory here has probably no more than 150 machinists, and they make furniture covers not clothes! When it comes to clothing factories, those with the most machinists are generally making exclusively for their own brand, such as David Nieper and Barbour. And even those that once made exclusively for others, are now creating their own in-house brands, such as Private White V.C. in Manchester.

So what is the solution?

There are three aspects to what Clarks are doing that other retailers and brands should take note of…

  1. Open your own factory. Don’t look for one that already exists, because it most probably doesn’t. That’s why what Clarks is doing is spot on. They’ve realised that if they are to resume any volume manufacturing in the UK they need to own their own factory.  This cuts out the costs of intermediaries and means they can put what they want on the production line, when they (and their customer) want it. It does of course mean a larger investment at the beginning, but will pay reap rewards in the long run.
  2. Keep things simple. Clarks have announced that they will be concentrating on making their iconic desert boot in their new UK factory. They know that in order to set up a brand new factory and train up a whole team on the production line, it’s best to stick to one product at first. A variety of different styles would most likely require a host of different processes and machines. This would take a new team longer to learn and make production inefficient. Sticking to less styles that you know you can produce in high volumes simplifies production and makes a factory more efficient
  3. Use innovation to automate. As skilled labour is now in such short supply, one of the best ways that UK factories can set themselves up for the future is by investing in the latest technology. Automation has worked wonders for the UK car industry, where companies such as Toyota and Nissan use robots on the production line. Clarks will apparently use robot-assisted technology in their new factory in Somerset, and will employ technical managers to oversee production. This use of state-of-the-art technology to make production efficient is something that is already working for some of the UK knitwear factories, as well as enabling cotton spinning to return to the UK at English Fine Cottons.

Clarks have taken a brave move, and I hope that it will encourage others to follow suit. It takes courage to make such a big investment, but I think it will pay huge dividends in the end.

I believe that the current demand for UK manufacturing will only continue to rise.Click To Tweet

The growing Chinese middle class don’t want to buy product made in China anymore, and the customer is getting more savvy to ‘British brands’ that don’t actually make in Britain. That, together with an increasing interest in sustainable and transparent supply chains, and a demand for faster turnaround of product, makes UK manufacturing once more a very viable prospect.

Long may it continue!

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Find out why Justine turned her back on corporate life to launch her eponymous label. What were the challenges? and what tips would she give others planning to do the same?

Justine Tabak Womenswear SS2017

Justine Tabak Womenswear SS2017

Can you tell us a bit about your professional background prior to launching your own brand?

I went through the British design school system, first studying fashion and textiles at Leicester Polytechnic and then an MA in fashion at the Royal College of Art.

After leaving college in the 1980’s I worked in Italy for Fendi. I then wanted to come back to the UK, and found myself in the midst of the British high street designing lingerie for M&S, then on to Jigsaw and Laura Ashley.  I then got a job as the first ever designer for Boden. After that I joined LK Bennett, where I started the first in-house womenswear range and after 7 years there I went back to Boden and became their creative director.

What gave you the inspiration to take the leap from working for a company to starting your own brand?

When I turned 50 I realised that working for big companies I was becoming less involved with the creative side and the design, which is my main love. It got to the stage where I thought ‘it’s now or never’, so I took the leap.

Justine Tabak Womenswear SS2017

Justine Tabak Womenswear SS2017

Why did you decide to manufacture the collection in the UK?

All the companies that I have worked for, except Fendi, have a strong British heritage, and I am naturally attracted to that. I had worked on the British Icons collection for Boden, which sadly never got made in the UK, and whilst researching manufacturers for it I found that we still have some strong manufacturing here. I also wanted to put back into the industry. For me, it feels important that I am supporting something that has helped me throughout my career.

You sought advice from Kate (founder of Make it British) in the early days to help get your brand off the ground. How did you find her and how did she help you?

I Googled manufacturing in Britain and found Kate! I made an enquiry via the website and we got chatting and then I realised that we had both worked at M&S at a similar time. I used the contacts that she gave me to make my first samples and production orders.

Setting up my own brand has been so different to working for the big companies. One of the biggest differences has been placing orders for just a few pieces rather than hundreds.  And doing the whole thing yourself – it’s been like starting from scratch as you can’t use the contact book that you originally had. I feel like I have just come out of college again. It is much more like when I worked for Fendi, which was making very small order quantities when I was there. Working closely with pattern cutters and sample makers it feels like I have come full circle.

Justine Tabak Womenswear SS2017

Justine Tabak Womenswear SS2017

What hurdles have faced since launching the business?

I never realised how hard launching a brand was going to be. Not making a profit for the first 2 or 3 years is hard. It’s a 7 day a week job – and you can’t afford staff! You find yourself multi-tasking doing things like social media or adding things to the website. Actually finding the time to design takes real determination.

What would be your top tips for another start-up brand that wants to make in the UK?

As a small company it’s important to work within the parameters of what we can make in the UK.

'As a small company it's important to work within the parameters of what we can make in the UK' Click To Tweet

That means designing really simple shapes and making the most of the fabric. This also helps with the cost.

You need to be realistic about your price points and work within the factory’s limitations. I see a lot of designers that don’t have the realisation of what everything costs to make in the UK, and who don’t bear in mind that a good factory needs to pay the minimum wage.

As a designer it is easy to get distracted, and think ‘I could do this, this or this’, but you need to keep really focused on what you set out to do in the first place. My advice would be to not try and do everything. Use your talents well and find someone else to do the rest. For instance, if you’re not good at tech then find someone that can help you.

Justine Tabak Womenswear SS2017

Justine Tabak Womenswear SS2017

How has social media helped your business?

I find that Instagram is the best platform for me because it is so visual. I have started to write more content on each post, and having more of a conversation about the product, and people are engaging a lot more with that. I’m picking up sales because of this too.

For a start-up brand you have received a lot of press coverage. What is your secret to getting the attention of the press?

Persistence!!!! Whilst I had a list of press contacts from working at Boden and LK Bennett, when you are only making 10 pieces of something they aren’t really interested.

You have to remember that the press are busy people and they don’t have the time to research a small brand so you need to give them something on a plate. Something that you have really thought about and that reflects your brand. So I wrote the story for them, and spent some money on getting some lovely images taken, rather than just studio shots.

One bit of advice I always give to other designers is to not try not to compete with the big guys. Don’t make your press pack look too corporate. As I work from my kitchen table my press pack reflects that – I send a handwritten letter, wrapping it in string, and putting it in a stripy envelope to make it stand out, and also reflect the brand.

In this digital world you can get 100 emails a day but something through the post is really special and stands out from the crowd.

Justine Tabak Womenswear SS2017

Justine Tabak Womenswear SS2017

Where can people find you?

We are currently running a pop-up shop, which will become permanent soon. Increasingly I am becoming more passionate about helping other people who are going through the same journey. So there are three of us working together and we are also giving space to other designers. Mostly made in Britain, but not exclusively; the rule is that you have to have met the makers personally.

If you are selling product with a story and a price tag attached to it then it is important that the customers can feel it and try it on. The shop somehow makes it more ‘real life’ and I am getting much better sales from being out there.

The shop is at 99 Essex Road N1, Islington, London. 

Find Justine Tabak in the Make it British directory here, or on her own website and Instagram.

Justine was one of the speakers at our Make it British Forum. You can see the talk that she gave below. It’s full of loads more great tips from her about how to start  a womenswear brand made in the UK. 

Every year Make it British holds a trade show in London to bring together UK manufacturers with businesses that want to make their products in the UK. #MTM2017 was our fourth edition…here are the highlights.

Highlights from Meet the Manufacturer 2017Our 2017 show was the fourth edition and saw thousands of people from all over the country, as well as from as far away as America and Japan, flock to the Truman Brewery in East London.

This is a clear indication of the rising demand for UK manufacturing and makes us more enthusiastic than ever about manufacturing in the UK.

Here is Meet the Manufacturer 2017 in numbers….

50% More attendees than in 2016 – making for a packed house on both days

27 Countries were represented amongst our visitors, with every continent covered and International visitors double that of last year. Japanese and Scandinavian buyers were particularly keen on looking for UK manufacturers and British-made product at the show

1249 Delegates attended the free seminars over 2 days to learn more about partnerships, production and provenance in UK manufacturing.

43 British-made brands exhibited in our new Make it British brand hall, where there was a fantastic networking atmosphere amongst the Make it British members

41 Machines in action at the show – including sewing machines, heat-transfer printing, machine knitting, screen printing and leather embossing.

186 Glasses Three Choirs English sparkling wine, 200 Sipsmith gin with Fever Tree tonics and 408 bottles of Meantime beer were served at the evening reception courtesy of UK Fashion & Textile Association.

9 Dogs including two guide dogs and a dancing Maltese in a Union Jack coat

6 Sheep (of the multi-coloured kind) in the British Wool Sheepish Studio

1 Fire alarm! Caused by a random smoke machine being let off in a photo shoot taking place in on the floor above the show. It may have interrupted our Facebook Live broadcast at the time, but it didn’t dampen spirits at the show.

In this interview for the Manufacturing at Heart Podcast I talk about my previous career, and the tipping point that made me decide to give up my jet-setting job as a buyer and dedicate myself to supporting UK manufacturers.

Make it British Manufacturing at Heart Podcast

Click the image to hear the interview

Manufacturing at Heart is a weekly podcast which brings together manufacturing stories from across Europe. The show interviews CEOs, Ops People, Innovators, Academics and Journalists alike who all have one thing in common – they have Manufacturing at Heart!

I was delighted to be interviewed by Mark Redgrove for the podcast and be able to tell the story of why I founded Make it British.

In the interview I talk about my previous career as a designer and buyer for well known brands, and the tipping point that made me decide to give up my jet-setting job as a buyer and dedicate myself to supporting UK manufacturers.

We also cover what the advantages are of making in the UK versus overseas, and what I see as the potential for growth in British textile manufacturing.

I also explain why I decided to set up a trade show for UK manufacturers, and the challenges I faced in doing this having known nothing about running events when I founded the show!

If you’re currently in a corporate career and thinking that it’s time to do something different, but scared about taking the leap, then I hope some of what I say in the interview will help inspire you.

And if you are looking for manufacturers and want to make product in Britain, or want to network with businesses that are making in the UK, then why not join 5,000 others just like you and come to the show? More details here www.meetthemanufacturer.co.uk

You can listen to the interview on the Manufacturing at Heart Podcast here

Need some advice on making clothing in the UK? Pop into the ‘Meet the Expert’ drop-in clinic at our Meet the Manufacturer trade show and get your questions answered.

meet the expert

Top L-R: David Reay, Vic Rosenberg, Saumen Kar. Bottom L-R: Alison Lewey, Kate Hills, Daliah Simble

For people thinking about starting up or expanding a business, this year we have a brand new feature to at our Meet the Manufacturer trade show just for you.

In our new, dedicated Enterprise Hall we will have a team of experts on hand offering one-to-one practical advice and hands-on experience on different aspects of manufacturing and business development.

With nearly 150 years of manufacturing and product development experience between them , our expert team will be on-site at the event to answer questions on the hot topics of sourcing and production.

The Meet the Expert team includes:

  • David Reay, previously Manufacturing and Sourcing Director at J Barbour and Sons
  • Daliah Simble, previously of Roland Mouret, set up her own fashion consultancy in 2015
  • Alison Lewy MBE, founder of Fashion Angel and mentor and author of Design, Create, Sell – a guide to starting a fashion business
  • Vic Rosenberg, former MD of Puffa, with over 40 years experience in production and supply chains
  • Saumen Kar, director of London Ethnic, which helps designers in the early stages of their business by offering marketing and production services
  • Kate Hills, founder of Make it British, previously a designer and buyer for Burberry and M&S

This carefully-selected team of experts will be sharing their insights and practical advice in these free, drop-in sessions. We’re expecting this service to be very popular, so visitors will be able to book their slot on the day and will be invited to leave any unanswered questions with the panel, to be answered in one of our weekly Make it British Facebook Live sessions at a later date.

Meet the Manufacturer is proud to be the only sourcing event exclusively for British fashion, accessories and homeware.

Taking place on 24 and 25 May at The Old Truman Brewery, London, this year’s trade show will be the biggest and best yet with around 200 exhibitors.

New for 2017 are a series of free drop-in seminars, workshops and demonstrations connecting manufacturers of textiles, apparel and leather goods with buyers, designers and retailers looking to produce quality British-made products.

Also new this year is a British Brands Hall, giving creative businesses the opportunity to showcase their distinct and inspirational labels, including Marlborough of London, The English Mineral Make Up Company and Elizabeth Martin Tweed.

For more details and to register for a free ticket visit www.meetthemanufacturer.co.uk

We don’t think so, and we’ll show you why…

cost comparison making t shirt in UK versus overseas

You can’t compare apples to apples – buying clothing made overseas is not as cheap as you may think…

There is a myth that making clothing in the UK is much more expensive than manufacturing overseas. We’d like to dispel that myth and show you why that’s not the case, even on simple products such as T-shirts.

Let’s first start by looking at all of the different costs associated with making a good quality, branded T-shirt that retails for £25.

The average manufacturing cost for that T-shirt in the Far East, making a small quantity of a few hundred pieces, is around £4.24*. That price includes the fabric, cutting and stitching of the garment, labelling, pressing  and packing, and the factory overhead and margin.

The same T-shirt made in the UK is around £8.85. It’s seems like it’s more than double, but hear us out!

When clothing is made overseas there are several other costs that need to be taken into account before that product is ready to hit the shop floor.

Shipping and duty can be as much as £1.75  on a simple T-shirt, depending on the size of the order. And if the brand is buying through an agent they will take their cut too.

So now you get to a more likely cost of £7 for the Far Eastern-made T-shirt, compared to the £8.85 for the British one.

But it doesn’t stop there.

Retailers traditionally work on a profit margin of around 60% on a branded item when they sell it in their stores. A simple way to work that out is roughly double the wholesale cost plus VAT.

The problem is that retailers have to take into account the fact that not all of the product that they buy sells at full price.

The average sell-through (the amount sold at full price) on a fashion product is around 60%. High-fashion, seasonal colours and styles can have an even lower sell-through, especially when the buyer has had to predict the trends months in advance in order to place an order with a Chinese factory. And therein lies the problem.

With average order times from the Far East being around 12 weeks from when a buyer places an order, often the product sitting on the shelves is not what the customer wants to buy. So traditional retailers have to factor this into their pricing, with around 40% of clothing making no profit for them at all.

Having product available when a customer actually wants it is where sourcing locally comes into its own.

[bctt tweet=”Having product available when a customer wants it is where sourcing locally comes into its own” username=”makeitbritish”]

It’s why some of the fastest growing fashion retailers, such as ASOS and BooHoo, manufacture a large percentage of their clothing in the UK.

cost of making a t shirt in the UK

Making clothing in the UK means product can be made closer to when the customer wants it

Let’s assume that the average sell-through rate of a T-shirt which is bought within 4 weeks of going on sale is 80%. The wholesale price of the T-shirt may be higher, but if only 20% of the product goes in the sale then the retailer actually makes more profit.

It is not unheard of for UK-made brands to have a sell-through rate of 100%.

When they are selling online and able to gauge a reaction on the product via a channel such as Instagram they can literally make to order within a week. So every piece that they make sells at full price, because they have exactly what the customer wants…when they want it.

cost of making a t shirt in the far east

Clothing made overseas incurs many additional costs such as shipping and duty

This illustration doesn’t even include some of the other hidden costs of buying overseas, such as flights to the Far East to meet with the factory or courier bills for sending fit samples backwards and forwards until the product is correct?

One of the advantages to brands of making in the UK is that they can have close contact with the manufacturer, and hence can avoid costly sampling and production mistakes.

Simon Cook, MD of Discovery Knitting, who has been knitting quality fabrics for T-shirts in Leicestershire for over 30 years, told us:

I’ve heard of one brand who had to fit a T-shirt 17 times with a Chinese factory in order to get it right. At £54 a time for DHL to courier the sample over from the Far East that amounted to hundreds of pounds in sampling costs for just one T-shirt“.

Of course the price for making the T-shirt in the UK can vary massively according to so many different factors.

Simon Cook, who helped us to compile the figures for the cost price of the UK-made T-shirt, says that “£8.95 is the average price to make a small order of 150 T-Shirts in the UK, but this is based on an existing style. If there is a new pattern to be made and development work to be done then the brand will pay more”.

So how is the £8.95 cost of making a T-shirt in the UK broken down?

After speaking to different T-shirt manufacturers in the four main areas for jerseywear production in the UK (London, Manchester, Nottingham and Leicester) to whom he supplies his fabric, Simon came up with the following breakdown of production costs for 150 short sleeve T-shirts:

Fabric – £3.15 100% Organic Combed Cotton Single Jersey dyed Optic white 170/175gsm using a metre of fabric per T-shirt and buying 90 metres of fabric from stock (which you can buy directly from the Discovery Knitting website here)

Cutting – 60p Based on cutting 150 T-shirts over 4 sizes – S/M/L/XL

Stitching – £4.00 Price per garment if it is a straightfoward style. Includes labour costs and factory overheads

Press, Trim and Kimble – 65p The cost for the final finishing and inspection of the T-shirt and the application of a swing tag.

Individual bag and barcode – 45p Packing the garment and getting it ready to go to stores

When you see it broken down like that, you can begin to understand how little profit UK manufacturers make compared to the retailers. Does that sound fair?

good joe t shirts

Good Joe don’t give the profits from their retailers to the big retailers – instead they donate garments to people in need

One way of getting the best value product for you money is to buy British-made directly from the brands and not from the retailers.

In the example that we have given, which we took from the ‘cost breakdown of a sample €29 T-shirt’ in the Fashion Revolution Zine, brands make very little margin. They will often be squeezed by retailers for the lowest possible price and have to cut their own profit in order to get in with the big stores. Traditionally they would try to double the cost price in order to set the wholesale price, but on highly competitive items such as T-shirts that may not be the case.

A good way for brands to get round this is to sell directly to the end consumer.

A great brand that sells T-shirts made in the UK is Good Joe. Not selling via retailers enables them to use the extra margin to give back to those less fortunate.

Margaret Church, the founder of Good Joe explains: “Selling directly to the consumer enables us not only to bring them great British quality at a lower price, but to fulfil our Buy One, Give One commitment. For every shirt purchased, we donate a new item of clothing here in the UK”.

Next time you complain about clothing being made in the UK being too expensive, stop and think about WHY that might be, and how by buying smarter you can change that perception.

Discovery Knitting stock a huge selection of knitted fabrics for making T-shirts and much more, all manufactured in their factory in Wigston, Leicestershire. To see the full range visit www.discoveryknitting.co.uk

http://www.meetthemanufacturer.co.uk

*Figures for production based on ‘Cost breakdown of a sample €29 T-Shirt’ by Fashion Revolution in their fantastic Zine – get hold of a copy here

With the ‘Made in UK’ label more in demand than ever before there has never been a better time for British-made brands. That’s why we’ve introduced a Brand Hall at our event.

Meet some of the brands that will be exhibiting at Meet the Manufacturer 2017.

If you’d like to register for a trade pass just follow this link.British Brands exhibiting in the Make it British hall at Meet the Manufacturer


Equi-Scuto

Equi-Scuto

Equi-Scuto

Equi-scuto are designers and creators of the finest leather equestrian leathergoods for clients – handcrafted in Yorkshire.

Alie Street

Alie Street

Alie Street

At Alie Street we give you the opportunity to feel confident and glamorous in impeccably made day dresses, red carpet gowns and wedding dresses.  Designed and made in Britain.

We are Rushworth

We are Rushworth

We are Rushworth design and manufacture knitwear in the Scottish Borders. Their range of accessories and tops for all the family are crafted using natural fibres which include lambswool, merino and cashmere.

Celtc & Co

Celtic & Co

Celtic & Co

Celtic & Co design and create enduring contemporary pieces using the finest natural fibres. They’ve been making sheepskin slippers, boots and accessories in Cornwall for nearly 27 years.

Jennifer Anne

Jennifer Anne

Jennifer Anne

Jennifer Anne is a contemporary new luxury label designed exclusively for the petite woman. An opening capsule collection of smart, elegant and tailored clothes that can take you from desk to dinner.

Elizabeth Martin Tweed

Elizabeth Martin Tweed

Elizabeth Martin Tweed

100% Harris Tweed fashion designed by Elizabeth Martin, sourced, designed and hand made in Scotland. Invest in Elegance.

Tiffany Rose

Tiffany Rose

Tiffany Rose

Tiffany Rose is a a multi-million pound fashion label specialising in maternity occasion and bridal wear.  Each Tiffany Rose dress has been lovingly designed and made in Britain.

The Throw Company

The Throw Company

The Throw Company

All of The Throw Company’s products are designed and hand made with loving care in their UK studio, using a wide choice of fabrics and colours, unique to the Throw Company and cruelty free.

Mirelle London

Mirelle

Mirelle london

Mirelle London is a British luxury handbags designer that specialises in creating bags made from the finest fabric and leather. All the Mirelle London bags are manufactured in Britain.

Bianca Elgar

Bianca Elgar

Bianca Elgar

Bianca Elgar is a luxury versatile fashion collection which includes ready to wear scarves, skirts, tops and dresses with discreet neckline loops that allows for wearing as they are or paired with our scarves.

Good Joe

Good Joe

Good Joe

A socially conscious brand selling British made T-shirts and Polos for men. Each time you buy a Good Joe, they give a new item of clothing to someone in need in the UK.

Unibu

Unibu

Unibu

Unique British Underwear made to exacting standards entirely in the United Kingdom. Building on years of experience, Shirley Crisp created Unibu to offer great fit and quality.

Ruth Dent

Ruth Dent

Ruth Dent creates luxury silk scarves based on her own paintings.

Wild Things

Wild Things

Wild Things

Children’s fun play clothes for 6 months to 8 yrs. Handmade in Scotland.

Yarmo

Yarmo

Yarmo

Yarmo is a workwear factory brand made at Yarmouth Stores Limited in Norfolk, UK. The label is propelled by a significant following in Japan

London Tradition

London Tradition

London Tradition

Premium outerwear designer and manufacturer, specialising in British Duffle coats, Pea coats and Trench coats. Made only in England.

Isabella Queen

Isabella Queen

Isabella Queen

British luxury brand offering leather accessories handcrafted in London. Elegant structures with colour contrast, satin lining artwork representing London, designed in-house with British illustrators, designers and artists, are the hallmarks of the label.

Justine Tabak

Justine Tabak

Justine Tabak

Justine Tabak – womenswear made in the British Isles.

Geoff Stocker

Geoff Stocker

Geoff Stocker

Geoff Stocker is a British Menswear and Accessories brand. Specialising in silk Pocket Squares, Neck Ties, Scarves and Dressing Gowns. All products designed by Geoff and made by UK factories.

Luxac

Luxac

Luxac – The elegance of a handbag with the function of a rucksack

Draper of Glastonbury

Draper of Glastonbury specialise in luxurious natural products of sheepskin and leather

Sipahi Co

Sipahi & Co

Sipahi & Co

Sipahi & Co Eco-Luxury Leather Goods made exclusively with oak bark leather from the last remaining traditional British tannery of its kind. These belts age gracefully – like fine Bordeaux!

Bespoke British Pens

Bespoke British Pens

Bespoke British Pens

Luxury fountain pens made in Britain.

Meet the Manufacturer is a trade show organised by Make it British.

It is the only sourcing event exclusively for UK manufacturers and British-made brands. If you would like a trade ticket to attend please follow this link.

A recent survey has shown what we suspected all along, that the ‘made in UK’ label is one of the most highly prized amongst shoppers

made in uk ranked 4th

The survey of respected ‘Made in’ labels ranked Made in UK 4th out of 49 countries

In a recent global survey carried out by Statista, the UK was the 3rd highest ranked individual country for it’s ‘made in UK’ label. Only Germany and Switzerland came higher, whilst the ‘EU’ as a conglomeration of countries came in third.

The ‘Made in Country’ index ranks countries according to how positively a ‘made in…’ label is perceived respectively.

Over 43,000 people were interviewed across 53 different countries. They were asked to consider values such as quality, security standards, value for money, uniqueness, design, advanced technology, authenticity and sustainability.

The UK beat the likes of Italy (7th) and France (9th) and maybe not surprisingly China came in at the bottom at 49th.

This survey reiterates what Make it British has thought all along – that a Made in UK label is revered all over the world for its quality and provenance.

Made in UK does best

What does ‘made in the UK’ do best?

The survey went on to ask UK shoppers which products they thought their country made best.

Food came out top, with nearly half of the votes, whilst only 1 in 8 Brits rated their own consumer electronics as any good.

Despite the fact that shoes made in Britain are sought after all over the world, they received only 17% of their own country’s vote. Could this be due to the fact that consumer awareness of what actually is made in the UK is not as good as it could be?

Which products do YOU think ‘Made in UK’ does well? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

 

 

From self-taught to Royal Warrant Holder trained, we interview four fantastic hat makers to find out what inspires their British millinery.

Following last week’s feature on Top 20 British millinery brands we interview four hat makers who are members of Make it British.

Chloe Heywood British Milliner

Chloe Haywood: the lady herself wearing one of her hats.

How did you train to become a milliner?

Lady Sharma: My millinery skills were learnt from several award winning milliners and tutors from London, Cotswold, Loughborough and a worldwide tutor from Sydney, each of whom specialises in their niche material whether straw, felt, leather or thermoplastic.

I then further extended my education with a Royal Warrant Holder milliner who taught me traditional British millinery skills of measuring patterns, bias-cutting brims, finishing off wiring edges with invisible hand-stitching and more. These skills are what makes it so different from mass produced hats and machine stitched finishing.

Chloe Haywood: I’m self taught – my business started as a craft hobby using any materials I had at home to make small headpieces. My sustainable designs caught the eye of the press and stylists so I got bolder and started reblocking damaged hats into bigger designs using tips and tricks from other milliners, books and the internet. That collection went straight into Fenwick, Bond Street and sold out within weeks… Only then did I call myself a milliner.

Judy Bentinck: I trained for 2 days a week for 18 months with Rose Cory Royal Warrant Holder and Queen Mother’s milliner.

Maggie Mowbray: I originally trained in art and spent a large amount of time after I graduated working as an artist, sewing was something I have always done, which came naturally as a child. I think of millinery as the Venn diagram of the two! Back in 2010 I did a short felt hat making course which set me off on a journey for the next two years, pouring over old millinery techniques manuals and studying the construction of hats. Maggie Mowbray Millinery was established in 2012. I still strive to learn as many techniques as possible to add to my knowledge, I aim to make everything in house!

Lady Sharma British Milliner

Ladies Fedora by Lady Sharma.

What or who inspires your designs?

Lady Sharma: I find inspiration from daily life, whether I see it in landscape, nature and gardens, structures of buildings and interior design, or fashion catwalks. Usually I buy my materials first and collate them together before designing. When materials are laid out together, design ideas automatically flow in. However, what I sketch or design in mind often changes by the time I finish my piece! That is the beauty of millinery design and making, there is no set rule for each design, as long as it fits comfortably when worn, you can let your imagination run wild.

Chloe Haywood: Everything inspires me – music, sculpture, nature, colour and of course fashion.

Judy Bentinck: My inspiration is all around me, architecture, art, nature, colour, atmosphere, mathematics, texture, travel and so on…..

Maggie Mowbray: I take inspiration from lots of sources; art, architecture but mostly nature, I love natural forms and flowers, I spend time off in my garden, so botany always ends up playing a large part in my designs.

Judy Bentinck British Milliner

Judy Bentinck couture milliner, artist, tutor and author.

What do you enjoy most about being a British milliner?

Lady Sharma: The thing I enjoy most is being able to help others feel good and confident in wearing something I thoroughly enjoyed designing and creating. I love all hat events whether in the UK or internationally, and am amazed with all the photographs my customers send me from all over the world.

Chloe Haywood: There are so many elements of what I do that I love. There’s the creativity: designing and making the hats, prepping and styling the photoshoots, then I love the advertising / marketing side of the business, the social media buzz and then there’s the workshops. I run hen parties where ladies can make their own fascinator which are very enjoyable, let alone the corporate and educational workshops where I facilitate upcycling challenges, which is so rewarding.

Judy Bentinck: Millinery is a passion for me . I love the sculptural aspect of hatmaking. Hats conjure a mood or make a statement, express a personality and enhance an individual’s look or outfit.

Maggie Mowbray: I think British Millinery has a unique style; it’s elegant and structured and I think the style is recognisable as being British! We also have some great suppliers and block makers here in Britain.

Maggie Mowbray British Milliner

Stunning example of the Maggie Mowbray collection.

Finally, what has been the best thing about being a Make it British member?

Lady Sharma: Feeling proud to represent and promote a traditional British craftsmanship skill that has been on going for centuries.  Let’s continue Making it British!

Chloe Haywood: Ever since I joined Make it British I have had so many opportunities opened to me and the business. Lots of traffic from the website comes directly to my online shop which is fabulous, plus I’ve been nominated and won some awards off the back of me simply being listed with MIB. Make it British are very supportive of my work which is so valuable when you’re a small business and sometimes find work tough. I know if I have a query, I can contact Kate and the team, and they will give me the advice and reassurance I need.

Judy Bentinck: Being a Make it British member is important to me as British Millinery is renowned the world over and Make it British showcases and highlights the quality and professionalism of British made products.

Maggie Mowbray: I am really pleased to have been accepted by Make it British, they are really positive about promoting the Maggie Mowbray Millinery brand! You can find out more about each of our featured milliners by clicking on their name here: Chloe Haywood, Lady Sharma, Maggie Mowbray and Judy Bentinck.

Want to know more about millinery and hat making? Judy Bentinck has a fabulous book about designing and making hats and headpieces, which you can find here.

Setting up a British menswear brand is not without challenges, but quality rules over quantity, says Anthony & Brown founder Paul Brown

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your background before Anthony & Brown was created?

I have a finance background. The passion for menswear fashion began while working for a company called Oliver Sweeney, who produce high end men’s shoes and menswear. 

Oliver Sweeney produced quite a lot of their products in Italy and they went through a difficult period when the value of the Pound to the Euro dropped significantly. This resulted in a take over and business relocation from Devon (my home area) to London. I was heavily involved in the takeover but declined the opportunity to continue in London due to other opportunities closer to home.  

This experience resulted in my passion for quality menswear and a desire to produce in the U.K.  Seeing Oliver Sweeney go through a difficult period made me keen to avoid uncontrollable pitiful’s such as currency fluctuations – hence producing from the United Kingdom whenever possible.

Anthony and BrownWhy did you decide to start your own brand and how did you go about launching it, who did you seek help from?

I had some success selling other brands online once I left Oliver Sweeney, this was mainly end of line stocks so I had no control of sizing and very little control of exact designs.  I wanted to produce a brand where I could have full control, and a brand that excited me and I would be proud to wear. 

I gained help from one of the old directors at Oliver Sweeney, who helped me to launch the brand via trade shows and online bloggers etc. 

Who is your target market for Anthony & Brown and what kind of research did you have to do to be sure there was the market for your garments?

My target audience is professional males ages 35-50, I researched by taking examples to trade shows and speaking to store owners and people in the industry. 

What have been your biggest challenges in starting the brand?

The biggest hurdle has been financing the brand, due to MOQ’s (minimum order quantities) it takes a large amount of finance to be able to produce a range of the quality that I require.  Personal circumstances with illness of family members has also put a strain on the brand as it is a small team.

“The biggest hurdle has been financing the brand, due to MOQ’s (minimum order quantities) it takes a large amount of finance to be able to produce a range of the quality that I require”

Why was it important for you to manufacture Anthony & Brown in the UK?

It is important to me to produce in the UK where possible as I believe strongly in quality over quantity. I would rather own one nice jumper that I am proud to be seen in than five jumpers which I don’t feel so good in.

I also love the fact that I can easily visit the factories and work alongside people who are passionate in their fields without language barriers.

anthony and brownWhat have been your biggest challenges in doing so?

One of the biggest challenges has been sourcing UK manufacturers for various items of clothing in the range.  Some items in  my range are made outside of the UK at the moment, however I am looking to make all future ranges in the UK and there are trade shows now which I will be attending to locate the best manufacturers for my brand.   (like our Meet the Manufacturer event Paul!) 

Can you tell us a bit about how you found your manufacturer? And why you chose them to work with?

I was introduced to my manufacturer by a sourcing agent I was using when I first started out.  I visited them and loved the quality of their product and how professional they were in their approach.

Anthony & Brown is already a popular brand and stocked in London, Hampshire and Devon, are there plans to expand to other stockists, or even have a dedicated store?

I am mainly working hard at increasing my online presence, gaining new customers and keeping my current customers happy. At some point in the future I would like to have a dedicated standalone store but that would not be for a while.

anthony and brownAnd how about the product range, it is already extensive and even includes some lovely dog accessories, what else might be in store in the future for Anthony & Brown fans? 

We are looking to bring in leather belts made from Oak bark leather. These belts are produced by the last tannery in the UK, who produce their leather using traditional methods which take up to 12 months per hide.

We are also looking to bring in a range of jumpers made from a merino wool and cashmere blend. 

The dog logo is a big part of your brand, tell us about the dog….

The dog logo is of my dog Penelope, she has a huge personality so it felt fitting to base the logo of the brand on her.  

She is coming up 6 now and has become a bit of a local celebrity, she is often spotted as being the dog from Anthony & Brown.

And finally, as one of our longstanding members what is the best thing for you about being a part of Make it British?

The best thing about being a member of Make it British has been that it is a very effective way to introduce my products to a lovely audience of people interested in supporting the country by buying British.

Kate and Lauren are very passionate about increasing awareness in British made products and are doing a great thing for the revival of the clothing industry in the UK.

You can find Anthony & Brown here and also at anthonyandbrown.co.uk

Despite sewing traditionally being seen as a ‘woman’s job’ there are still few women running sewing factories in the UK. On International Women’s Day we take a look at some of the inspiring women that are changing the face of garment manufacturing in Britain

sewing factories in the UKI received a call a while ago from a TV researcher asking if I could recommend any female sewing factory owners for a programme they were planning.

I know A LOT of sewing factories in the UK. I mean hundreds, if not thousands. And how many could I think of that were owned and run by women? It was less than a dozen. Which is disappointing when you consider that the vast majority of workers in sewing factories are women.

This low rate of women in top jobs in manufacturing reflects a survey carried out by EEF. They looked at the amount of women on the board of FTSE 100 manufacturing companies and found that the figure was 23%.

Yet I do think that the tide is turning.

This is in part due to the fact that as more small businesses look to manufacture in the UK, so they consider setting up their own small workshop to produce their products. It not only cuts out the cost of a manufacturers overheads, but also makes them the master of their own destiny.

Kate Holbrook Turtle Doves

Kate Holbrook, owner of Turtle Doves

Take for example Kate Holbrook, the founder of Turtle Doves. She set up her sewing studio three years ago and now has 30 people working for her, of which only two are men. Kate says of running her sewing factory,

“It may appear, from the outside, to be about the art of making things but I think that women make successful factory managers because it’s actually about communication and relationships above all and those are skills many women have.”

Kelly Dawson, co-founder of Dawson Denim

Kelly Dawson, co-founder of Dawson Denim

Another brand making it for themselves is Dawson Denim. Kelly Dawson runs a sewing workshop in Brighton with her husband Scott. Having worked in fashion for two decades Kelly could easily have chosen to outsource the manufacturing of her denim brand to a third party. But instead chose to make it all inhouse.

This personalised service means that her customers know the provenance of every garment that they buy from Dawson Denim, most of which has been made by her own fair hand.

Kate Dawson, founder of The All-in-One-Company

Kate Dawson, founder of The All-in-One-Company

Yet not all female factory owners go into the business because they have the sewing skills.

Kate Dawson, the founder of The All-in-One Company, set up her factory knowing nothing about garment production. She did so because she wanted to make a product that was bespoke to each customer, and realised that manufacturers were not keen on making orders of one! She now has a dedicated team of ladies working for her and is an inspiration to anyone who’s looking to make a unique product in Britain.

From my own experience of all the places that I have visited over the years, I do notice that women in sewing factories often run a tight ship. Manufacturing is, after all, all about managing people and timetables, something that women are very used to doing when they have to juggle the myriad of activities that modern children get up to after school.

Jenny Holloway, owner of Fashion Enter

Jenny Holloway, owner of Fashion Enter

“Manufacturing is so complicated but so rewarding,” says Jenny Holloway, the owner of Fashion Enter, a social enterprise factory which manufacturers for everyone from ASOS to M&S.

“I never set out to be a factory owner when I was a senior buyer for the Arcadia Group!  However now I am in this esteemed position I would never have it any other way – every day is different, every day is challenging and actually I now wonder how I was ever an effective Senior Buyer without knowing how to construct and cost a garment.”

But Jenny says that the path to running a successful sewing factory has not been easy. “Its taken 9 years to achieve the position of where I actually feel confident in all aspects of manufacturing but I am not arrogant enough to think that I could do this job without the wonderful team of the factory manager, production manager, QCs,  machinists and pressers.”

“I do think this is where woman have an advantage of being able to multi task, are not afraid to ask for advice and guidance when its required and actually just become so darn determined to make a job work.”

That hard work and determination have certainly paid off for Jenny. Today her factory has a leading status in the new Fast Forward audit, only two companies out of 360 have this accolade with ASOS.   

I hope that going forward we will see more and more woman taking the lead like those I’ve mentioned above, and start to set up or take over the running of sewing factories in the UK. It certainly seems like the modern woman has all the right skills for the job!

If you know of an inspiring woman running a manufacturing business in the UK in any sector then we’d love to feature them in a future article. Please leave just pop a mention of them  in the comments below

The Irish linen industry once employed over 40 percent of Northern Ireland’s working population, but sadly most of the mills have since closed down. I took a tour of Northern Ireland to visit some of the manufacturers still remaining in this often forgotten part of the UK textile industry. Read on to find out what I discovered.

Irish linenWhilst I have been writing about and visiting UK manufacturers for nearly a decade now, I am ashamed to say that I have never ventured over the water to Northern Ireland, once synonymous with the words Irish linen.

So when I got a call from Invest Northern Ireland inviting me to speak at a textile event they were holding, I couldn’t say no. And I’m so glad I didn’t!

Richard Pelan, Innovation Advisor for Invest NI, kindly took me to visit some of the manufacturing contacts that he’s been working with. Over two days I visited 6 of the best textile manufacturers that the UK has to offer.

What amazed me was how diverse the products that they made were, but what they all had in common was they were innovative and growing companies.

Read on to find out who I visited and the products that they make, but first, a little bit about the history of textile in Northern Ireland…

Back in the day the Irish textile industry was huge, employing 70,000 people at its peak over 37,000 looms. Everything centred around linen and practically every town and village had a mill or a factory. In 1955 there were 55 linen spinners in Northern Ireland, but sadly there are no more. The last closed in 2009. And the last weaver of any substantial size is Fergusons, which you’ll read about later.

Whilst many people think of linen when they think of Irish textiles, they also made a substantial amount of garments, including shirts, jeans and uniforms.

Sadly the Northern Irish textile industry has been even more greatly effected than the rest of the UK, with barely a hundred or so manufacturers left. Those that remain have done so because they have adapted, and because they have become specialists in high-end manufacturing. None of the factories that I visited served the price-pressured high street anymore. Instead they work with luxury clients all over the world.

Frances Dinsmore at Templemoyle Mills

Frances Dinsmore at Templemoyle Mills

First up was a stop at Francis Dinsmore at Templemoyle Mills. Originally established over two centuries ago by Augustian monks who were experts in dyeing, Dinsmore are specialists in cotton dyeing and finishing. I met with the company’s owner Barry Corrigan, who gave me a tour of the mill.

Run by the Dinsmore family from 1791 to 2007, the business was bought Barry, then managing director,  in 2007, because he didn’t want to see the factory knocked down and turned into flats. “You can only benefit by building property on the site once, whereas with textiles you can go on and on,” he tells me.

Barry talked with great passion about the many new business opportunities that he has made happen since he took over and it is clear why he has managed to more than double turnover in the last decade. Adding synthetic dyeing and cotton waxing, to the cotton dyeing and finishing that the Dinsmore were already doing, has greatly increased the variety of customers and industries that the business serves.

Supplying a broad variety of different customer bases is what has helped Dinsmore to survive where other textile companies in Northern Ireland have fallen by the wayside. Their customer base is as diverse as furnishing wholesalers, apparel companies, accessories manufacturers, the automotive trade and the book-binding industry. If you have a copy of the Koran it may be covered with fabric finished at the Francis Dinsmore mill.

Most recently the firm has set up an area to apply a waxed finish to cotton cloth under the brand name Templemoyle Mills. Named after the building in which Dinsmore are based, the fabric is used for outerwear, luggage, and accessories. If you are looking for waxed cotton fabric do check out Templemoyle Mills. They have loads of different weights, colours and finishes of the fabric in stock and they can supply it in quantities as small as 50 metres.

The fabric dyeing trade can be one of the most polluting parts of the textile industry. You only have to look at the pictures of Chinese rivers in rainbow shades – a bi-product of dye houses flushing out into rivers. Barry tells me that Dinsmore have stopped using many chemicals now that would have been used in the past, and many chemicals that are still approved for use, they don’t even touch.

RA Irwin textile manufacturers Northern Ireland

RA Irwin

My next stop was RA Irwin. Originally founded in 1951 as a handkerchief manufacturers, they are now a fully vertical weaver, finisher and printer of fabrics for blinds and bedding.

Still a family company, I was shown around by Richard Irwin, the grandson of the founder.  It is a wonder that Irwin is still in business, having survived both a fire in 1985 and a flood in 2008. But the Irwin’s are obviously a resilient bunch. And also very adaptable too.

When hankies went out of fashion, instead of packing it in, the business quickly switched to being a warp knitter. Then in the late ’90s they spotted an opportunity in weaving for the furnishing industry. With 34 looms and weaving 100,000 metres of cloth a month, they are probably one of the biggest weavers in the UK.

The fabric that they weave is made into all different types of blinds – including 1,000 metres a week of blackout blinds produced to meet a growing demand from parents for totally dark rooms for sleeping babies!

Irwin were also one of the first UK textile manufacturers to invest in digital printing technology – buying their first fabric printer in 2008 so that they could produce printed blinds to add to their collection.

Supplying through household names such as Hillary’s Blinds, Silent Night, Bensons and Dreams, chances are, you have had fabric woven and finished by RA Irwin in your property or workplace at some point in time.

Irish Linen

Thomas Ferguson Irish Linen

After RA Irwin we headed down to Banbridge to the last remaining linen weaver in Northern Ireland – Thomas Ferguson Irish Linen, where I was greeted by one of their directors – Judith Neilly.

There used to be 38 weavers in Banbridge alone. Now Fergusons are the last of their kind, and have remained in business due to their diverse range of customers. They supply everyone from London Fashion Week designers, film and TV and the furnishing industry under their John England brand of linen fabrics.  As well as the Scouts and Girl Guides with badges which they embroider onsite under their Franklins brand. Visit any gift shop in Northern Ireland you will find Irish linen products made by Thomas Ferguson.

If you have ever watched Game of Thrones you would have seen plenty of fabrics woven at the Ferguson mill. Judith works very closely with the TV show’s costume department to create fabrics for the costumes for the show. She explains that linen has the perfect properties for TV – having the ability to look very aged and worn when it is creased, and the ability to look brand new again once it is washed and ironed.

Their weaving shed is vast, housing dozens of jacquard looms noisily hammering away producing the finest Irish linen cloth. They also have a sewing room where the cut and finish all of the linen tableware that they sell all over the world.

The range of cloth produced at the Ferguson mill is extremely diverse – from open, net-style weaves used in the latest Star Wars movies, to a lustrous indigo-dyed denim factory made by combining linen in the warp and cotton in the weft of the fabric.

To get an idea of the vast array of fabrics in John England range take a look at their website, or find them exhibiting at our Meet the Manufacturer trade show in May.

Ulster Carpets made in UK

Ulster Carpets

My final visit of the day finished on a high, as I had the opportunity to step inside Ulster Carpets in Portadown. I’ve never been in a carpet weaving mill before, so this was a real treat. Especially given that Ulster Carpets are not only the largest carpet manufacturers in the UK, but one of the top producers in the world.

I was taken inside the mill by David Acheson, the mill’s Head of Strategic Operations. Unfortunately, due to the unique patented technology that Ulster Carpets have introduced to their looms to make them more efficient, I was unable to take any photos. So you’ll just have to take my word for it that it was amazing!

The Ulster Carpets mill produces 40,000 metres of carpet per week, 70% of which goes outside of the UK. One of their biggest markets is casinos, so you can image the crazily patterned flooring that some of the looms were churning out.

The mill gets through 1.8 million kilos of wool every year, with 80% of the fibre being British wool. They have recently built a new dyehouse too, which uses some of the most up-to-date technology to dye the yarn, including robotised machinery. No one could ever say that the textile manufacturers of Northern Ireland were lacking in innovation!

Bridgedale socks made in Ireland

Bridgedale Socks

On day two of my tour I had the pleasure of visiting Bridgedale socks, an extremely modern sock factory in Newtownands, not far from Bangor. They’ve been knitting socks here since 1950, and are specialists in socks for the outdoor market.

I am astounded by the complexity that can go into producing a sock. For a start, several different yarns, such as Merino, polypropylene, nylon and Lycra, are twisted together so that each can be used to create a part of the sock with distinct properties. For instance, some areas may require cushioning, whilst others have a more open construction for ventilation. Plus there’s all the different colours that go into the sock’s design too.

Once the yarn is prepared it moves over to the circular knitting machines, of which there are 52 at Bridgedale. Each one spits out a fully finished sock in around 3 minutes and the factory produces 1.2 million socks a year.

After the knitting process each sock is applied to a strange looking upside-down flat leg, which takes it through a steaming chamber in order that it is ready to go into its packaging. After careful inspection to ensure that it meets the high quality expected of a Bridgedale sock it is then packaged and ready to be shipped.

Over 45 percent of Bridgedale’s socks end up on feet outside the UK, in 42 countries across the world. Each pair is guaranteed for three years, “but often last much, much longer” says the firm’s Director of Operations Jim Campbell.

The Irish linen industry and my textiles tour of Northern IrelandLast stop on my whirlwind tour of the textile manufacturers of Northern Ireland was Ulster Weavers. Despite the name, the 127 year old company has not woven cloth for many years. They moved into the home textile market in the 1960’s,  specialising at first in Irish linen tea towels. Over the years that have extended their product ranges to include all types of kitchen items.

Whilst Ulster Weavers no longer produce cloth in the UK, they do have a screen-printing facility in Northern Ireland and produce finished home textile products for both their own range as well as bespoke work for other clients.

So, that’s a brief summary of my textiles tour of Northern Ireland. I would love to go back, as there is so much more than could be seen in two days. There are still several shirt manufacturers there, as well as some wool weavers in Mourne that I would have liked to have got to.

I was also due to visit Wm Clark on this trip, the oldest textile business still in operation in Northern Ireland. But sadly the mill had a serious fire the day before I was due to arrive, and understandably they weren’t up for a visit. I do hope that they get back into operation soon, it would be devastating to see the business close down. But if all of the manufacturers that I met on my visit were anything to go by, it would take more than a fire to keep an Irish textile business to get them down!

This weeks Facebook Live covered everything from whether there was any support from the Government for UK manufacturers, to beauty brands and eco-packaging. Below is the transcription of the show.

Hello everyone, welcome to the Ask Kate Live Facebook Q&A. I’m Kate Hills, I am the founder of Make It British, we do this weekly Live Facebook Q&A at one o’clock every Thursday where I answer your questions on buying British and working with UK manufacturers. 

British-made Beauty Brands

Today we are talking about British made beauty brands; we’re answering a question about eco-packaging from last week; we’ve got some interesting information about buttons made in the UK; and also helping someone who wants to find leather manufacturers in London.  So welcome to everyone that’s joined.

I’ll kick off by talking about British made beauty brands. 

Every week we put a call out on our Instagram asking people to recommend products on a certain topic and this week we covered beauty brands.  We’ve had lots of response, and we’ve started adding them to the site. So do pop over to the Make it British website and you’ll see our list of top 20 beauty brands. 

It was great to be able to find so many skincare brands that are made here. We could do with a few more make-up brands, so if anyone does know of where any make-up is made in the UK please let us know.  And if you do have a beauty brand and you’re watching this please add something in the comments below about your brand and we’ll add you to the article.

British-made Eco Packaging

Another item that I want to cover today is a question we had from Elizabeth Rees last week, who was asking where you could get eco-packaging from.  I said I’d go away and do some research on this and I realised it’s a much more complex area than I initially thought because there’s all different types of packaging. You can have board, paper, textiles, wood, so I need a little bit more information in order to answer this question thoroughly.  But I’ve already spoken to a couple of great packaging people who say they do have eco options.

One of those is Elite Labels who offer a big packaging service. They’re based in Leicester and they work with a lot of different garment brands.  They are able to offer eco-packaging, depending on the type of packaging you want. 

And also another company called Progress Packaging who make beautiful packaging, very high end for a lot of designers and they also are able to offer eco options.  But Elizabeth, if you are watching and you have got some more details of exactly what it is you’re looking for please type it in the comments or get back to me and I will give further details on this next week.

But what I am going to do this week straight after I publish this live video to our Facebook page, I’m going to put all the contacts in the comments straightaway so you’ll have the contacts there for Elite Labels and Progress Packaging.

 

British-made packaging

There are several UK packaging suppliers, many of which can make boxes in recycled materials

 

Embossing / Printing on Knitwear

The next thing I want to talk to you about today is an enquiry from a company called Ushiwear – they were looking for a manufacturer that can emboss onto knitwear.  Now so far I’ve hit a little bit of a wall with actually embossing on knitwear but I have found a very good company who can print onto knitwear with loads of very innovative techniques.  They’re called Faering, they’re based in Leicester and I certainly think that Ushiwear, if you are watching, it would be worth contacting Faering to find out if they can also work on an embossing technique for you.  And again I will put the contact details for Faering in the comments afterwards.  So Ushiwear, I hope that helps, if you’ve got some more details of the sort of embossing that you want then I will further look into this for you and try and come back to you again next week.

Lauren, have we got any questions?

We’ve got a question from Sarah, is the government offering help to produce garments in England?

Ooh, that’s a good question, is the government offering help to companies that want to produce in the UK?  Currently no, there’s no direct help. I know there’s a lot of people that are now discussing this in light of Brexit and what the government’s industrial policy may be, and hopefully this is one of the things that will be covered.

Will there be certain tax breaks for people that manufacture in the UK? Will big companies that claim that they’re very British be required to manufacture a certain percentage of their products here?  This is all being discussed at the moment at government level. I try not to get too involved in politics, but if find anything more about this I will let you know Sarah. 

So the answer is – unfortunately no, there’s no tax breaks or any special help for people that manufacture in the UK – I wish there was.

Lauren, any other questions?

That’s the only question but Maggie Quinney has given us a thumbs up.

Hello Maggie, actually I’ll give a little shout to Maggie because I’ve just been speaking to Maggie via messaging on Facebook and I understand she’s just set up a garment manufacturers in Hinckley in Leicestershire. She makes all sorts of jersey products, activewear, sportswear – so if you are looking for a jersey or sportswear manufacturer do get in touch with Maggie.  I know she’s a member of our Buy British Community so you can reach out to her on there. 

Leather Manufacturers in London

The final question was from a leather company that manufacturers leather products in the UK. They want to find another manufacturer for leather bags based in London. 

I’ve got a couple of suggestions for this. The first one is Seipel, they are part of the Alma Home business,. They’re based in East London and they have a small manufacturing unit and can make small order quantities of leather goods. 

There’s another company in East London owned by a chap called Jas Sehmbi. He makes a great bag, particularly a more casual style bag. He actually has his own collection as well and then he manufacturers for other people.  Again I’ll put Jas’ details in the notes at the bottom, he is based in East London too. You can contact Jas here.

So I hope those two manufacturers can be of help.  Leathergoods is one of the things that I get more enquiries about than anything els. If you are looking for a particular type of manufacturer and I can’t answer your question in depth here, I do offer a service to help people find manufacturers, there is a small fee for that but for that I can dedicate proper time to you and to find exactly the sort of manufacturer you’re looking for for your product.  Here’s a link for looking for a UK manufacturer which gives you some more details about how that service works.

seipel leather

Seipel are one of a handful of leather manufacturers in London

Are there any more questions Lauren?

Yes – Sarah’s asked another question as well, she’s looking to make a range of t-shirts and is looking for high quality fabrics and print factories.

If you are looking to make some t-shirts in the UK – I am working on a project at the moment about how much it costs to make a T-shirt in the UK, and how that’s broken down according to the cost of the fabric and the style of the garment.  It’s not one of the cheapest items to make in the UK, but you can certainly can get good quality T-shirts made here. 

The company that we’re working with to compile the details about making T-shirts in the UK is called Discovery Knitting. I know Simon Cook from Discovery Knitting is part of our Buy British Group and there has been some discussions already in that group about where to find fabric printing companies and people to make jerseywear.  So Sarah, it might be worth joining, if you’re not already, and if you do a search within the group for printers you’ll find there’s been a fantastic thread about fabric printers in the UK.

You should also come to our Meet the Manufacturer show if you are looking for UK manufacturers or British-made products to stock in your stores. The yearly trade show is on the 24th and the 25th of May and it’s at the Truman Brewery in London.

We’ve just opened registration over on the meetthemanufacturer.co.uk website. It’s a fantastic event for networking and finding UK manufacturers, and we’ve got lots of free talks this year on all different subjects to do with making in the UK.

Kayleigh’s also asked for the Meet the Manufacturer event, does your business have to be officially registered to get a ticket?

It is a good question Kayleigh. It’s a business-to-business show so ideally you would have a registered business, but at the very very least in order to attend you need business cards if nothing else. You need those business cards to be able to give to all the fantastic manufacturers that you’re going to find at the show.  It’s a really busy show, and we only have 180, 200 exhibitors and with 5,000 visitors those exhibitors are mobbed.  If you want them to take you seriously and think about making your orders you need something to be able to give to them so that they actually have some way of getting back to you after the show.  So if nothing else please make sure you’ve got business cards printed and then we won’t charge you to get in.  I hope that’s clear.

One last thing, lovely Edith Weekes-Hamilton has said keep up the fabulous work.

Oh hello Edith, hello, hopefully we’ll see you at the show again this year, Edith.  Fantastic, right, well thank you very much everyone for joining.  Is there anyone else that wants a shout out before we go or if not I can drink the rest of my cup of tea and get on with all the important work that we do at Make It British?

I hope you enjoyed our Facebook Live, we do this every Thursday at 1pm. Please do send us your comments, we’d love to know what you think.  In particular, it’d be great if you’ve got an idea for a top 20 you’d like us to do. So far we’ve covered – beauty, dog brands, children’s and babywear and wool. If you’ve got an idea for something you’d like to see in our top 20 please let us know  because they’re proving incredibly popular and we want to make sure that we cover every single aspect of UK-made products.

The eagled-eyed amongst you might have noticed that I promised to cover British-made buttons at the beginning and then forgot all about them! Don’t worry, I am going to cover them in depth next week!

Here’s the transcription for last week’s Facebook Live. In it we cover exhibiting at a trade show, where to go for start-up fashion advice and an update on the registration for our Meet the Manufacturer event

Sorry it has taken me a while to get this online this week due to half term.

Our Facebook live takes place every Thursday on the Make it British Facebook page at 1pm.

It’s you chance to ask questions about UK manufacturing, buying British and making in the UK. If you’ve got a question to submit please do so via the live chat on our website, send us a tweet, send a message via our Facebook page or even DM us on Instagram.

Today we’ve got quite a few questions to answer, particularly we seem to be getting a lot of questions from people that  have their own businesses, so we are here to help you answer questions about that. We’ve also had a manufacturer get in touch saying that they’re looking for staff for their factory so I’ll be covering that, and I’ll be telling you about all of the fantastic British made gifts and we can recommend for Valentine’s Day.

I’m also talking about where you can go as a start-up if you want to get information about setting up a fashion brand and also tips on exhibiting for the first time at a trade fair.

So firstly, if you haven’t got your loved one a gift yet we are compiling a top 10 of the best British made Valentine’s gifts. We put a call out on our Instagram page asking for suggestions for gifts made in the UK that would make a fantastic Valentine’s present. Please pop over to the Instagram post, find the post with the big pink heart on it and we will consider your British made gift for inclusion in the Valentine’s post that we’ll be running tomorrow. So, you’ve got about another 24 hours to add something to that and we will then be selecting our 12 favourite gifts, so that’s the Make It British Valentine’s post.

While we’re on the subject of what’s going on over at the website, we have several fantastic competitions that are running at the moment. We do these regularly to help tell everyone about the sort of products that are made here and give you an opportunity to win something fabulous at the same time. Currently we’ve got a fantastic leather washbag from Abreption, we have got some underwear from Unibu and also a piece of jewellery from Magnus & Bella. On Instagram we’re running a competition just this week and it closes tomorrow night, to win a silk British made pocket square from Geoff Stocker which he has done in collaboration with Grey Fox, so it’s the perfect thing for any dapper gent, so do pop over and enter that too.

So welcome if you’ve just joined us, if you are watching and you want us to give a shout out about your brand and what you do type something in the comments and that’s why I’ve got my glasses on, I can hopefully read it, and I will give you a little shout out. 

So it’s early days of this Make It British video thing and we are finding there’s a few technical hitches, we do need a more professional setup here but unfortunately space doesn’t allow us to have a full-time Facebook Live studio! So, for the moment we’re temporarily mocking it up every Thursday with our lovely Moon blanket in the background.

Anyway, the next thing I wanted to cover was that Ronin Jewellery got in touch just to say can you give us a shout out, they are exhibiting at Spring Fair at the moment and it’s the last day at the show today. I know there’s quite a few companies that manufacture in the UK who are exhibiting there, so we wanted to say if you are at the show today pop over and see Ronin Jewellery.

If you are the sort of person who has a business who exhibits at trade fairs or who is interested in exhibiting at a trade fair, we have had someone ask what sort of things do you need to know if it’s your first time exhibiting at a fair.  So having been to many trade fairs myself over the last 20 years firstly as a buyer, also as an exhibitor for brands that I worked with, and now running our Meet the Manufacturer trade show, I’ve pulled together some top tips of things you need to know about exhibiting at a show. The tips apply to someone that’s showing for the first time, as well as if you’re an experienced exhibitor.

The main thing I would say is how important it is to always smile if you are standing on a stand at a trade show, even if your feet are killing you, you’re really uncomfortable, you’ve been there for four days and it’s getting a bit monotonous, just smile and you’re much more likely to attract people to your stand.  I always know which exhibitors are going to say “we didn’t have a very good show” because it’ll be the ones that have been sitting behind a desk, and not interacting with people, because it’s a fantastic opportunity to meet new customers, get out there and get exposure for your brand.

Next I’m going to cover a manufacturer that we know in Manchester called Porters of Manchester, they’ve got a small manufacturing unit, I visited it, it’s fantastic, there’s about six ladies there machining and they are looking for a pattern cutter. They’re based in Central Manchester, so if you are a pattern cutter looking for some extra work and you’re watching this or you know someone who might be interested or who lives locally then please do get in touch.  

And while I’m on that subject I thought actually this could be a great forum, if you do have a factory, a manufacturing unit, a brand, a studio and you are looking for someone to join you then we reach quite a wide audience with this Facebook page so please let us know, feel free to join our Buy British community group and post something in there.  We’re more than happy to spread the word, if you make in the UK we will help you find someone if you’re looking for someone to work with you.

Welcome to all those that have joined us, please do say hello in the comments and I will give you a shout out, I can see we’ve got quite a few people who’ve joined us now, don’t be shy, say hello.

I should say here that if you have just joined us for the first time and you think what is that woman harping on about, this is my weekly slot every Thursday at 1pm to answer your questions about making in the UK, and buying British.  We generally answer questions that people have given us via our Twitter, Facebook page, Buy British community, live on our website or email us, so send us in a question if you want it answered or if there’s a topic you want us to cover and I will endeavour to cover it the following week. 

Hello, I’ve just seen there’s a note from Victoria @wearerushworth, hello Victoria and hello to Jo Storie Hand Knits,  we’ve got a bit of a knitting theme going on today.  Talking of which, while we’re talking about knitting and all things woolly I did a fantastic interview just this week with Laura from Laura’s Loom. She had a great story – she told us all about how she starts from the fleece and how that process goes from fleece to yarn to finished product, be that knitwear or weaving. So if you do want to find out a little bit more about the whole knitting and yarn process I highly recommend reading the interview that we did with Laura.

Someone else asked us this week, we did a Make It British forum last October and they asked when we were doing the next one.  Now the forum, the last we did was held in Leicester, and it was entitled How to Develop a Made in Britain Brand. It was completely packed out, it was a fantastic day and I think everyone really enjoyed the networking that took part at the show. So we are going to do another one.  We’re already planning where we might do that, it will be somewhere other than London in the UK, if you’ve got a particular suggestion of an area where you’d like that to take place then put it in the comments or send us a message, we’ve got some ideas but it will be October of this year and it’ll be along a similar theme, so yes there is another Make It British forum coming up. 

But if in the meantime, you are looking to develop a fashion brand and want advice on then there are several places that I can recommend to go.

Firstly there is the UK Fashion and Textile Association, they run masterclasses on fashion and product development. There’s also Fashion Angel who are a fantastic company who support start-ups and people going into fashion businesses. 

There’s also Fashion Capital. They have a factory in London, they offer lots of advice to small businesses related to fashion and starting a fashion brand and they’re also doing an event  in Manchester on the 30th March and you can find out more here.

And then finally just if you are a general brand starting out, I think Enterprise Nation is a fantastic resource. It’s not that much to become a member and they lots of things that you can get involved with to find out more about starting a small business.  Brilliant!

Okay, has anyone got any particular questions for me today, I think I’ve covered most of the questions that we’ve had coming through this week, have I missed any out Lauren?

I don’t think so, we have had a lot of people asking about registration for our event.

We run our Meet the Manufacturer trade show once a year in May at the Truman Brewery in London, the registration will be opening tomorrow (it’s now open and you can register here). The good news about this year’s show is it is entirely free, so in the past we have had free entry to the trade show and then a conference running at the same time that you could buy a ticket for, but this year all of the talks will be completely and utterly free and you can drop in at any time. 

I’ve just seen we’ve got a question coming through from Elizabeth Rees, ‘I’m looking for an eco-packaging business,’ oh that’s a good question Elizabeth. I know quite a few packaging businesses, how many of them are eco I’m not so sure, so I will check that out Elizabeth and I will come back to you on that next week. 

I’ve got one more question from Victoria, ‘Re trade shows, I’ve noticed lots of people don’t display their prices openly for buyers, what’s best practice?

That is a good question, I don’t think that our exhibitors for the most part will display their prices when they come to the show. The manufacturers we have at our show are generally contract manufacturers so the price that they quote will be based on the specific product that you order. If you’re a brand coming to the show then generally I think buyers do expect you to have a price list available, or have a good indication of what the prices are. Although I wouldn’t suggest that you would price up individual products at the show.  So it is always wise to know what your prices are in advance I would say, yes.  Does that help Victoria, I hope it does?

Well thank you everyone for joining today, I think that’s pretty much everything I wanted to cover, please do join us every week and don’t feel shy, do ask a question, thank you to Victoria and Elizabeth who asked questions today, Elizabeth I’ll come back to you on the question that you asked. 

We’re here every Thursday, one o’clock give or take a minute or twos technical hitch while we set up, so please bear with us and if you are finding this useful please do let me know, write something in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

Right thank you very much everyone for joining us and I will see you again next week.  This has been Kate Hills from Make It British doing Ask Kate Live Q&A on Facebook every Thursday at 1pm, thank you.

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