Saturday, 15 October 2016

Fashion Exchange London Brands To Watch!

There was an incredibly eclectic range of fashion and accessories at Enterprise Nation's Fashion Exchange in London. Can you predict who are going to be the iconic brands of the future? There was brands from Turkey and Spain, cutting edge sportswear, personalised shoes, nostalgia brands, charity jewellery startups, 'world keys', poetry inspired lingerie and even kawaii customised iPhones.

Here's what you missed...

Stylish Performance Sportswear
Nakeid Sportswear founder Elena Gromova
Nakeid design sportswear that's highly comfortable, super stylish and performance enhancing. 
"We want to entice more women into sport".

Timeless Handbags & Jewellery
Nadia Minkoff

Nadia Minkoff is a boutique style brand established for almost 30 years now. They design their products to be timeless companions and avoid passing trends.

Nadia Minkoff is stocked by Wolf and Badger which is a terrific London boutique that supports emerging designers. Co-founder Constanza Di Gennaro was one of the speakers on the panel providing great tips on making sales on the high street.
Constanza Di Gennaro (2nd left) of Wolf and Badger

A Trio of Turkish Treasures
2.26 Jewellery, Chapputz, The Hopes

As you would expect in London there was a lovely international flavour from the people and the brands that attended. Leleka UK brought along 3 very individual and artfully curated brands. The Reflection by 2:26 jewellery collection above  and the Chapputz handwoven bags below are inspired by Anatolian nomads.

The Hopes world keys is a brass jewellery collection with cool multilingual messages etched on.

Innovative Tailored Menswear
 Artemis & Apollo
Founder Ben Barnaby took part in Enterprise Nation's Go Global Mission to China in 2015. His mission is to transform the image of menswear away from standard, boring and old fashioned designs.
Ben   Online Use  Large File

Bespoke Shirts Made in Madrid
Santamaria Shirtmakers

Santamaria is a London based online startup that import luxurious Italian fabrics to their workshop in Madrid to hand stitch. Interestingly they have a collaboration with Made In Chelsea star Andy Jordan which is something guest speakers Tom Cridland and Phoebe Gormley point blank refused to do when they considered PR strategies. Tom was advised to save up £2,000 to pay a Made In Chelsea star to wear his trousers on their Instagram account.
Santamaria caters for everyone!

Jewellery Inspired by Nepal

Triia was one of the newest brands at the Fashion Exchange at only a couple of weeks old! Founder Cathy was inspired by her travels to start a jewellery company with a heart of gold. 10% of profits go to the charity Maiti Nepal which has rescued thousands of girls from sex trafficking. Triia's bespoke jewellery is handmade in Bali.

Poetry Inspired Lingerie
Stephie Ann specialises in silk lingerie inspired by poets such as Lord Byron. Beautiful hand drawings and photography are digitally printed onto silk.

Retro Rock n Rollers!
Fan-Club Clothing
Do you like a bit of nostalgia? Love to rock a slogan tee? Then you need to checkout Fan-Club Clothing and roll back the decades.
On Tour in 74 flock printed slogan t-shirt

Kawaii Crazy Customisations
Suga Dust
Emma Jones was particularly taken with this brand even confiscating designer Destiny Rose's phone to admire on stage. Destiny can customise everything from bags to jewellery, clothes and shoes.

Artistic Accessories
Samantha Warren
It's no surprise that these glorious coloured accessories are stocked in such prestigious museums as The Royal Academy of Arts, the British Museum and Wolf and Badger as mentioned earlier.
Her prints are a very interesting mix of hand painting, photography and collage.

For The Global Fashionista
Kites and Bites
This label specialises in multicultural influences to design stylish conversation starters such as the Fly Higher tulle skirt for confident women.

Create The Shoes Of Your Dreams

OSinguliers like Santamaria shirts featured earlier let you use a 3D designer to create your own unique, personalised footwear. You can choose everything from the style to stitching to personal engraving.

High Technology Fashion
HotSquash specialise in cutting-edge fabrics that are so clever they can keep you warm or cool and secretly use technology to make you look your absolute best with no hassle.

The Mysteries!
I didn't quite catch the names of these last 3 labels but I liked them all a lot. You can see the passion that goes into making the naturally produced leather handbags.
I pictured Freddie Mercury rocking these military style jackets.
Such cool designs on these scarves.

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Thursday, 13 October 2016

Fashion Exchange London Tom Cridland and Phoebe Gormley

Tom rocked an Oxfam jumper during his entertaining speech.
Two of the star speakers at an action-packed Enterprise Nation Fashion Exchange in London this September were the amazing Tom Cridland and Phoebe Gormley of Gormley & Gamble.
Phoebe Gormley second left Credit: Attollo Lingerie

These groundbreaking entrepreneurs were full of unique, interesting and unmissable tips on how to create a successful fashion brand.

Break Free!
Phoebe did not want to spend £9,000 on her final year at university in return for just an hour of tutoring a week. She knew she could do more with that money! She took a gamble hence the name Gormley & Gamble. She began by joining an incubator startup with Bathtub 2 Boardroom which only charged her £120 a month for a desk in the office.

Whilst also studying at university, Tom's dissatisfaction with the throwaway culture in fashion grew from watching other students buy cheap dresses every week instead of buying 1 really nice dress every 6 weeks. He wasn't sure what he wanted to do at the beginning so started with the desire to make 'the perfect pair of trousers'.

The new and wonderfully named Entrepreneur's Shirt in Pink Panther

Tom, in his own words foolishly only took out a £6,000 loan to start his business which quickly ran out after 3 months. However it got him up and running and despite some comical situations at times (not having stock ready for the launch) his passion and flair for PR would start to quickly build his brand. 

As Tom says "It's lovely not having to follow anyone else's rule book".

Be Cheeky!
Image result for sheep on savile row

Savile Row was pedestrianised in 2015 for a Wool Week promotion that involved sheep grazing on a specially built pasture. Phoebe took the opportunity whilst visiting Savile Row to speak to a tailor friend and cheekily ask if she could share space in his shop. He agreed she could for the same rent she was already paying elsewhere. Phoebe wanted to move in around 6 months when her contract was up but the tailor insisted she do it "next week or never!". Phoebe agreed and took the pain of paying double rent for the next 6 months.

It was still a good saving as it costs £25,000 to a month to rent a ground floor in Savile Row. The prestige of this location would mean that some patronising people would now have to stop dismissing Phoebe as just 'a seamstress doing alterations' and respect her a professional tailor.

One of the things I loved most about Tom's talk was his determination to ignore PR advice that he should save up £2,000 and pay a Made In Chelsea star to wear his trousers on Instagram. Instead they drew up a list of people they genuinely admired to cheekily approach with the offer of a freebie! Tom is a keen drummer so first on the list was Elton John's drummer Nigel Olsson. 

Tom Cridland Instagram

Tom's approach is now legendary and went along the lines of "Hi I'm 23 and I've started a new business. Would you like some free trousers?". Drummer Nigel loved them so much he wrote back asking to buy more pairs and crucially for Tom he then forwarded Tom's email to stars such as Daniel Craig and Leonardo DiCaprio who have since worn the brand. Tom's tip is to not send expensive freebies to people until they have given you permission to do so.

Friends, Family & Finding Customers
Phoebe used her father's professional network to ask if they knew of any professional ladies who needed tailored clothes. Her first client was the CEO of Virgin Money and at 6 foot 2 inches tall and struggling to find clothes that fit was perfect to benefit from Phoebe's skills. She purchased 12 items.

Tom used MailChimp to email everyone they knew about the label launch. They worked really hard on promoting to friends, friends of friends and everyone in their personal network. His sister Debra brought in contacts from her previous position with Universal Music.

The press Phoebe got for being the first female tailor on Savile Row sent her organic web search ratings for Gormley & Gamble through the roof with top listings in every applicable category and helped her sales figures leap from 5 to 6 figures in a year.
Emma Jones put together a wonderful Fashion Exchange appreciated by all.

Phoebe mentioned how she once wasted £2,000 on a PR agency and all she got was a one-liner in the Metro. She recommends London Fashion Agency with fees starting from £39 and Fashion PR Resources which start at £28.

Tom worked really hard on PR for both the label launch and crowdfunding campaign. To generate lots of press attention he said:

"A good idea and a good story about your product are preferable to just having a celebrity wear your product".

Tom's Top PR Tips are:

Tom's superb new charity collaboration

1) Create a story to make you stand out.
2) Drive sales with PR and not Google AdWords. 40% of Tom's customers are from the USA due to TV exposure over there.
3) Pester journalists with stories and updates until they feature you. Tom did not let tetchy journalists telling him to get lost deter him
4) Have a Dropbox set up with high resolution images for PR purposes that you can easily invite journalists to view.
5) Stalk celebrities online! Tom said you can find out what nearly every celebrity is up to on MailOnline. This is very handy for finding proof that a celebrity has been wearing your clothes and is where Tom spotted Leonardo DiCaprio wearing his trousers.
6) If celebrities accept the offer of a freebie ask them to send you a photo of them wearing it, they may not do so though. Dame Judi Dench actually photo-messaged and said use this photo in any way you like. Stephen Fry also wore his free trousers on a Valentine's Day date with his partner that got lots of coverage.
7) Check with photo agencies if you can use any photos you find and ask for a discount if you are a new or small business.
8) Set up a Google on celebrities you have targeted.
9) Use to find celebrity contact addresses "but don't go mad!". Tom once had an email back from a publisher complaining that he had literally emailed everyone in the entire office. It's £30 a month to subscribe.
10) Be so good you can start your own PR company! Tom Cridland Public Relations

Customer Delight
Phoebe's maxim is "for just a little more money than the high street I can make things that fit perfectly for you". Most women may settle for trying something on and if it's a reasonable fit they purchase it. Phoebe wants to give you an A* made to measure vibe not a B+ it will do vibe. One of her customers loved all the clothes she ordered so much that she instantly ordered 5 more of everything. 

Face-to-face contact with customers is crucial to Phoebe. She did not go down the internet only route (where people key in their measurements) as it makes no sense for tailoring. She is currently looking for her own space to sell that she can make hyper-feminine and pretty.

Manufacturer Relationships
Phoebe's Top Tip: "It's so hard to find excellent manufacturers, look after them, if they like a tipple drop whisky off to them on a Friday afternoon, pay them on time." A sourcing lady once wasted six months of Phoebe's time supposedly trying to find her a supplier. Another supplier backed out of a deal with her stating that she was too young. The massive inconvenience that this caused led to Phoebe sending him a glitter bomb envelope.

After the fantastic success of his first product Tom now moved on to finding a way to do something unique with the sustainability vibe that really drives him, Talking to manufacturers led to his next innovation the 30 year sweatshirt. They were able to show him samples from the 1970s that were still in good condition which therefore made the 30 year longevity a reality. The durability is achieved by luxuriously manufacturing the garments to last longer.

Finally: Work Hard!
Tom often stays up working until 2am and self-shipped all his products in the early days of the business. Phoebe works 6 days a week including Saturdays and stays open some nights until 10pm to suit when her very busy clients are free for fittings after long days at work.

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Monday, 19 September 2016

Food Exchange Birmingham by Enterprise Nation

There was an amazing collection of new food brands at Enterprise Nation's Food Exchange in Birmingham hoping to impress buyers from both Sainsburys and Selfridges.

Most of these brands were based on incredibly healthy recipes.

Natural flavours were to the fore and anything bad for you was on the naughty list: sugar-free, salt-free, preservative-free, gluten-free, are you free?
Image result for are you being served i'm free

Another dominating trend was the flavours and recipes from Africa and the Caribbean. When you consider all the supermarket space given to countries such as India, Italy and China it makes you realise how forgotten about these recipes are and the massive potential they have to wow everyone with new tastes.Give them some more space buyers!

Neema African Chilli Sauces
Neema specialise in spices based on recipes from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Founder Rose Yombo-Djema below got to pitch to the Selfridges buyer Adrian Boswell who approved of the packaging and the taste with some feedback that the bullet chilli sauce was maybe too hot.
Rose had the clever idea of pairing food with fashion by incorporating African fabrics into the design and branding. Amazing!
Credit: TastePioneers

Yvodne's Caribbean Treats
Rachel Yvodne Campbell is on a mission to show everyone the sweet side of the Caribbean. Her delicious recipes including flavours such as banana rum and guava aim to add to everyone's fondness for Caribbean staples such as jerk chicken and fried dumplings.
Feast on flavours such as pineapple and plantain.

J'Maker Caribbean Fusion Food and Drink
Co-founder Melanie Sampson may be an architect by day but she had no problem creating delicious gourmet flavours such as hibiscus infused drinks both alcoholic and non-alcoholic that stand out as a nice upmarket treat for the home and parties. 

Marvellous Mixes by Jems
One of the nicest treats I tasted at the exchange was the cookies below. Dark chocolate with orange flavour, simply lush! 

Jems Marvellous Mixes is inspired by cooking with her children and these cookie mixes aim to inspire both adults and children to whip up fab cookies in an instant.

 Seville Sauces
If you like your sauces traditionally flavoured, try beating Seville Sauce's family recipes dating back to 1890! With red and green chillies and peppers to the fore they have an intriguing new Spanish whisky sauce in the pipeline. Both the buyers from Sainsburys and Selfridges mentioned that you better not be a member of the one-trick pony club as they constantly want new flavours and products from your range to keep customers coming back for more.

Tyga Indian Meal Kits
With successful subscription companies such as Graze and Hello Fresh racking up huge sales it's good to see smaller businesses getting in on the action. Tyga post beautiful spice and paste blends to your home to make it easier to whip up delicious curry recipes.

Popcorn Shed
What's your flava? Tell me what's your flava? Is it salted caramel? Pecan pie? Rich chocolate? They all tasted dreamy to me. 'Kernel-in-Chiefs' Laura Jackson and Samuel Robert Feller hand-make gourmet popcorn with natural ingredients and top it off with indulgently textured toppings that mass brands simply can't compete with.

Nutty Cacao
Claire Dinan also got to pitch her brand to Selfridges and did a great job of it too. Claire's vision is to change the way people look at snacking so that you no longer have to choose between taste and health. This was a key point I picked up on amongst these food entrepreneurs, traditionally many healthy foods don't taste that yummy so they don't become a habit food. The next step in healthy eating is to get a taste to die for as well as the nutritional benefits. Not easy!
Claire's treats range from caramel slices to 'cheese-less' cheesecakes and donuts.

Key Point: You may have to knock your competition off the shelf to find a space.
Selfridges buyer Adrian Boswell made a crucial point that not only does your product have to be excellent to make it into his shelves it must also grow that category and not cannibalise sales from existing brands. In Nutty Cacao's case Claire needs to compete with and beat Livia's Kitchen to get listed in Selfridges. Claire stated that her wider range of flavours is her strategy to make this happen.

Cool Cold Brew Coffee
Joe Devereux Kelly gave an extremely well-polished pitch to the Selfridges buyer Adrian Boswell who said Joe's pitch and product impressed him the most. Joe's relaxed nature was key to clearly promoting his brand and listening to Adrian's feedback and countering any doubts about the brand's potential.

Key Point: Shelf Life!
Selfridges want 75% of the shelf life of your product from when it's produced to be on their shelves. So if your product has a 100 day shelf life Selfridges will want 75 days of that total. Cool Cold Brew Coffee are changing their packaging to Tetra Pak to dramatically increase the shelf life of their product from 6 weeks to 12 months. They are also taking the chance to further improve the branding and packaging too.

Matchola Granola 
You can't get any healthier than Matchola's winning granola, gluten-free, organic ingredients plus trendy Matcha green tea. Time to ditch Cornflakes!

Pure Treat
A daughter's love for her father and a desire to create treats that he could enjoy after being diagnosed as coeliac is the driving force behind Pure Treats. Choconut and date snacks to put a smile on your face.

Granny's Secret
Unique Balkan flavours and great branding makes Granny's Secrets a standout brand at #FoodEx. A focus on natural products such as ajvar pepper relish and artisan juices such as wild blueberry fruit juice brings a taste of the countryside to the big city.

Truly Simple Foods
I loved these sauces below for the instant punch of flavour they gave me. 
This full range is already stocked online at Holland & Barrett and they have a no nonsense attitude to keeping their products salt-free.
Their aim is help to support your dietary choices with truly simple natural products.

Incredible Bakery Company
Liven up your breadbasket with a red quinoa loaf, golden linseed loaf or even an onion and seeds loaf. 

Can I Buy You A Drink?
Lyco Life contains antioxidant Lycopene if you need to detox whilst Rejuvenation Water's ginger and lime drink wowed me with it's delicate tasty flavour.
No brand gave out more freebies than Aqua Carpatica!

Never leave a food exchange on an empty stomach

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