Why I set up Make it British (and how I can help you if you manufacture in the UK)

Make it British started as a blog in 2011 out of a passion to help save UK manufacturing. Here’s why I do what I do, to help you if you manufacture in the UK…

Kate Hills, helping you Make it British
Kate Hills, helping you Make it British

It all started when I was working as an accessories buyer for Marks & Spencer in the 1990’s.

I was there at the time when they moved nearly all of their production overseas. In fairness to M&S, they were one of the last to jump ship, but as their manufacturing base in the UK was so vast, it had a huge impact on much of the UK’s manufacturing industry.

I recall sad meetings where we’d tell UK manufacturers that M&S would no longer be buying their products as we had found a much cheaper supplier in China. It was devastating.

The closing of UK factories never sat comfortably with me.

Maybe it was because throughout the early part of my career manufacturing in the UK was a given.

When I left fashion college I started my own brand, firstly making all of the clothes myself, and then setting up my own workshop with a team of machinists. I would never have thought of outsourcing the work abroad to get the clothes made.

Then I went to work as a designer for a high street chain called Tammy Girl (remember them?). Nearly all of the manufacturing was done in the UK, and trips to CMT factories in North London and knitwear factories in Leicester were a big part of the job. We had great relationships with the factories and they were seen as part of the team.

When I worked at Burberry the head office and design department were in the same building as the factory in Hackney. It was fantastic to have buying, design and manufacturing all in one building because not only did it help everyone understand the product lifecycle, but if there was a problem it was very easy to sort it out.

Then by the time I worked in my last role, as a buying manager for Debenhams, everything was made overseas. It meant that lead-times were long, and supplier negotiations were based on nothing but price.

As someone who had come from a background where quality and relationships mattered it was soul destroying.

Make it British can help you grow your business
Make it British can help you grow your business

To me the offshoring of production seems very short-sighted.

Britain was a successful industrial nation for centuries – the industrial revolution started here after all – so why would we want to lose all that skill and the ability to make things on our doorstep?

Worried about the skills we were losing, I started to do some research on the brands and manufacturers that were left in the UK, and I found that despite what the majority of people thought, there were still lots of businesses who manufacture in the UK. . Yes, we’ve lost the mass-manufacturing that has gone to China, but what is left is some of the best craftsmanship in the world!

What did surprise me was how few people knew about the manufacturers that were left here. They’d been quietly getting on with their own thing. Selling by word of mouth. Many of them without a website. I knew I had to do something to give these companies a voice.

So, in 2008, without really working out a proper plan, I jacked in my job in retail (which can as somewhat of a surprise to my husband!) and decided to set out on a one woman mission to save UK manufacturing…

Since then I’ve helped hundreds of UK manufacturers and British-made brands to find more customers through the platform of Make it British.

I can help you grow your business if you…

Are a UK manufacturer struggling against cheap imported goods and wishing more people knew about what a great service your company can offer.

Want to launch a brand and have it made in the UK but you don’t know where to start.

Manufacture in the UK but struggle to find ways to get the word out about your business.

Here are some ways that you can get started…

  1. Listen to the Make it British Podcast

I shine a light on British brands and UK manufacturers and go behind the scenes of their businesses.

With tips, hints and tricks to help you manufacture in the UK. New episodes every Tuesday.

  1. Join our Community as a Make it British Member

With more people looking to buy locally-made products and to manufacture in the UK, there has never been a better time to get involved with Make it British.

Our members get a profile on the Make it British website, access to a community forum and weekly member calls. Plus lots of other cool benefits.

  1. Work with me

Do you want to find UK factories to make your products?
Stuck on how to take the next steps with your British-made brand?
Want to move your production to the UK but can’t make the prices stack up?
I can help you every step of the way!

There are various ways we can work together to help you at all stages of your UK-made brand.

  1. Subscribe to our newsletter

Join 30,000 others keeping up with what’s going on in UK manufacturing.