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.

Kiran Sangha made contact with TCBL with a start-up idea and concept. After graduating from Leeds College Art & Design in 2006 she went on to gain some experience within the industry, and even to design her own range of t-shirts where she outsourced manufacture.

After a ten year break from the industry, designing and being creative she came to us with the aim of creating a collection for every type of woman. Kiran wanted women to express themselves, feel empowered and comfortable, also to push the boundaries of cultural diversity. In short, she wanted to create a collection where branding will speak as much volume as the pieces themselves - all UK based and sourced.

Ruth and Terri, from the Labs, were able to give Kiran advice on how to move forward with her business and collection plans. They provided guidance on pattern cutting and refreshed her knowledge of the industry and on some of the new companies that have arisen, especially those that could help along her way regarding her manufacturing and outsourcing needs. In addition, the Lab guided Kiran through sewing techniques best suited for use on her collection style and helped her regain her confidence in her abilities.

With help from TCBL Kiran has now plotted a timescale where she feels comfortable to proceed with a collection ideally launching in September.

Andrea and Catherine contacted TCBL with an initial hope for some guidance and development regarding a new, fresh idea and product they had both designed. Both had identified a gap in the market for a sustainable and extremely practical item of wear for babies while being carried in a sling.

Andrea had experience of working with garments and manufacturing and came very prepared with samples she had previously sewn; Catherine came with high knowledge of what and how it works best whilst being worn. However, both felt they had reached a point where they needed some guidance, contacts and advice as to how to bring the garment into production and how to sell.

Ruth, from the Labs, was able to give the pair advice on how they could research the market and how they should seek to retail a product. In addition, she suggested ways that their original samples could be made into realistic pieces and where the next stages would be with the manufacturing costs and mark ups.

Terri, also from the Labs, provided help for the pair with the development of their patterns, ensuring the most potential was being met in regards to wholesale and retail benefits. She continued to provide support through the development journey of the item, sharing advice on sizing, labelling, fabrics and costings.

The business now feels it has a sustainable item which, from the research they have carried out, has sparked a big interest and confirmed the ideal market place. They now feel confident they will be having their first batch of the item produced around July time and hoping to launch this summer.

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