Routes to Market

About

Routes to market – providing guidance to start ups and SMEs

The Design and Make Labs at the Textile Centre of Excellence have engaged with a significant number of SMEs and start-ups over the lifetime of the project. Almost all engagements have related in some way to capacity building, knowledge transfer, bringing small designers closer to manufacturers and, more widely, re-structuring production. The examples below feature a few of the engagements carried out by Ruth Farrell and the team at the Textile Centre.

The Design and Make Labs at the Textile Centre of Excellence have engaged with a significant number of SMEs and start-ups over the lifetime of the project. Almost all engagements have related in some way to capacity building, knowledge transfer, bringing small designers closer to manufacturers and, more widely, re-structuring production. The examples below feature a few of the engagements carried out by Ruth Farrell and the team at the Textile Centre.

Tanya Perkins was proceeding with a PhD to complete a rug using micro-encapsulation for horses with severe skin conditions. Ruth in the Labs was able to work with Tanya to take her through her development process and research and enable her to achieve a commercial product/process that she can patent.

Cathryn Hall, of Anneka Textiles, uses an upcycling method in a very similar way to the recycled wool that is famous in Prato, focusing on mixed fibre recycling. Today’s fast fashion clothes are made from blended fibres, very difficult to pull apart and recycle so Anneka creates yarns of high value, rather than down-cycling, in a system where they can be recycled multiple times. Through TCBL partners and also in our Making Lab here at The Textile Centre there was an opportunity for Cathryn to learn new skills and understand her product better. The Labs also enabled her to get to grips with production on a larger scale and explore new business models.

Peter Gorse's start-up idea was intended to be the creation of a full disclosure garment using blockchain / QR technology. The garment was specified as a natural fibre sportswear/athleisure, as there is greater interaction with the wearer through increased friction and sweating skin. This made sense to Ruth, as full disclosure would include a list of chemicals used. The Lab was able to help Peter to get his project underway, introducing him to The Centres contacts regarding labelling production and legalities. Ruth suggested working with Sourcebook to help him source a specialist vertical knit and production unit for short runs.

Umma Razak used to be visually impaired, which limited the professions she could work in. Recently, she had eye surgery which opened the door for her to change direction. Umma had always had a keen interest in textiles but up until her surgery had not been able to follow this path. Umma came to The Textile Centre for advice. Ruth was able to discuss her needs with her and set up a three stage plan for her development, including six weeks’ training. Subsequently, Umma soon learned the cutting and stitching skills required for Ruth to help her go into a placement. This was vital so that Umma would be able to practice the skills and terminology that she had acquired and to further understand and work in the fast paced environment of industry.

TCBL labs provided help and support Stephanie Hoole, who intended to establish a bespoke performance sportswear brand called Grit and Grace. Ruth provided assistance with a 10 point plan, establishing the USP, sourcing, pattern making and costing. Steph’s site will give the user the chance to co-design the product. The fabrics needed to be the best in technical and performance enhancement. Form and function would be key but it was important to ensure the product source would be transparent to the user, however. With The Labs managers support and training Stephanie has now sourced the perfect fabric, fully designed and built the range she would like to offer and located a development and short runs unit in the UK called London Contour Company.

Three days training and guidance of industrial lock-stitch machines in denim and leather took place to enable our TCBL client Jason Stocks-Young, of Diamond Awl and JSY leather, broaden his offer and skill set. It is hoped that by introducing machine sewing techniques and organic woven fabrics to traditional hand stitched leather ones, Jason will be able to offer a new product range of bags to his existing leather goods. The styles must however hold true to his existing company ethos of responsibly sourced and beautifully crafted goods.

Who's involved

Ruth Farrell, The Textile Centre of Excellence

Tanya Perkins, Cathryn Hall, Peter Gorse, Umma Razak, Stephanie Hoole and Jason Stocks-Young

Goals and Objectives

All of the Labs’ clients wanted to learn in order to take their business or business idea further forward. The range of services offered by Ruth Farrell, through the TCoE’s Make and Design Labs was extensive and, in many cases, went into great depth. Every case was different but Ruth’s knowledge and expertise identified many common issues and offered solutions that could help move clients forward.

Contact Person

Richard Axe