Brands turn to crowd-funding to raise money for products made in Britain
If like me you like to keep an eye out for interesting new brands starting up, crowd-funding websites such as Kickstarter are a great place to find them. I have noticed recently that there have been more and more companies that are using the platform to launch products that are made in the UK, I guess partly because the set-up costs of making in Britain can be pretty high.
One of the most successful Kickstarter projects in the UK ever was run by Simon Middleton of the The Great British Banjo Company, who smashed his £30k target when he put out a call for backers to help him raise funds to launch the first affordable banjo to be manufactured in the UK for more than 60 years. Amongst the rewards that Simon offered to his backers were some of the first Shackleton banjos off the production line, and at £300+ he had dozens of customers for these first editons.
When I asked Simon about his Kickstarter experience he told me ‘it was just about the toughest few weeks of my life’, so companies that think it will be easy to set up a crowd-funding page, and that the money will just come rolling in, should think again. But when a brand has a good product to sell, and the crowd-funding route offers the opportunity to snap up some British-made goods at a bargain price, there seems to be no shortage of takers, which is good news for UK manufacturing.
Another example of a crowd-funding project that’s successfully raised money for a new product made in the UK is Trove, who nearly doubled their £12,500 goal to launch a very innovative new design of leather wallet, made in a factory in Leicestershire. Underwear brand Cahoonas also secured the funds to launch a new range of men’s pants last year, and the brand used the money they raised from backers to commission specially spun British fabrics and UK garment manufacturing from a network of suppliers.
Currently there are several projects live on Kickstarter looking for funds for a product that will be made in the UK. Among them are a collection of little black dresses made by Emma Hunt London in her Wimbledon studio and jeans for cyclists from Resolute Bay.
But my absolute favourite, and a project that I have already backed myself, is the one for the fabulous one colour trainers made in Northampton by Neon. Always a sucker for a retro looking trainer ( I usually sport Walsh), when I first clapped my eyes on these little beauties I wanted them in every colour. As the project needs to raise £7000 by the 23rd October, if no one else pledges any money to them by then I may have to buy 10 in each colour in order that they go into production! But judging by the success of other British-made Kickstarter projects recently, I don’t think that will be necessary.