Being inspired by Janet Street Porter CBE ‘Buy British’ keynote and discussing British Brands and Brexit with other UK manufactures.
Are we looking to the past for our British identity? Is it now time for the Union Jack to return as a symbol of the quality and craftsmanship for the British Brand?
Last week Blue Badge Co had a stand at the 2017 Harrogate Home & Gift Buyers Festival showing off our new collection of Walking Sticks and Bag and Kensington Leathers. This was our first year at the event and although we have done many exhibitions before, we had never ventured to Harrogate.
Janet Street-Porter: Quality, Quirkiness & Innovation
Broadcaster and journalist Janet Street-Porter CBE inspiring keynote speech was about the importance of British made products. This was part of the Great Northern Retail Forum at the show.
British retailers and manufacturers need to stop looking to the past and instead promote its quality, was her headline message.
“There needs to be clarity on what it means to be Made in Britain as we head towards Brexit” Janet said. She gave examples of countries such as Italy and Spain and their ability to combine heritage and quality while still appealing to the mass market and visiting tourists.
“There is a clear disconnect between what UK manufacturers do and what the tourist boards seem to think we do. We don’t promote Britain very well – instead of highlighting all our fabulous, contemporary high-end designers and manufacturers, we seem to focus on the past: Carnaby Street, Beefeaters and Twiggy.”
Janet urged the packed forum to consider Brand Britain in its its marketing – “Don’t focus on being good value for money,” she advised. “Focus on your product, its story and its ability to be coveted by the global consumer for the long term. Offer something tangible that cuts through a crowded market: quality, quirkiness, innovation,” she said.
This was music to our ears! Blue Badge Co have focused on British craftsmanship to manufacture our products, which are made in our workroom in Bristol, using materials from UK suppliers whenever possible. Because of the way we manufacture we provide jobs and training for those with limited work options. 40% of our workforce is either disabled or a primary care giver.
Janet gave some interesting insights into the way brands can target consumers through products and experiences that provided real value for customers.
We decided to go and find some of those UK exhibiting at the show. We wanted to know what they thought about Brand Buy British.
Grace and Favour design and make their range of homewares and gifts from their Devon studio. Using vintage maps, sheet music, postcards and tickets, to create a beautiful new and exciting collection.
Director and founder Rachel Rowe spoke about the benefits of manufacturing in the UK. “Making products in the UK promotes a wealth of talent and expertise that has been forgotten”. She advised that other companies wanting to manufacture products to seriously consider the UK as a manufacturing base. “Lots of companies can help with manufacturing and it really not as expensive as you might think. Also the customers like it!” Grace and Favour’s beautiful handmade range includes striking cushions, lampshades and personalised location map pieces. You can see their full collection on their website:
Next we went to visit Pip and Steve at Stuart Morris, a business first established in 1980. Since then they have used their expertise in textile design and printing to supply textile products to schools and international businesses. They have earned a reputation of being one of the UK’s leading craft textile printers and suppliers.
They print everything in house. They have greater control on a daily basis providing opportunities for bespoke products. “Any tweaks and changes can be done quickly. We can offer more flexibility when it comes to lead times” said Pip. This is something Blue Badge Co have always found a great benefit of British Made Products. We have fast turnaround times and are not sat on loads of unsold stock!
Since 1987 Glencroft have been supplying wholesale to shops around the world with quality sheepskin and countrywear. They manufacture the majority of the range 100% in the UK, with a small amount made in mainland Europe. Many of their products are still being manufactured using the same methods as when they began 30 years ago. "Being a UK manufacturer allows the company to be closer to customers and having higher standards of quality control" Edward said. “We take pride in knowing that the materials come from ethical environment. We know what sheep have provided the wool and how they are treated”
Glencroft are doing exactly what Janet Street Porter suggested; focusing on the product. By maintaining traditional techniques and sustainable approach,its story resonates with the global consumer.
Edward advised that other British Brands should “strongly promote and really shout about being a UK manufacturer. Put labels on your products showing UK made”
The Union Jack
Blue Badge Co have always promoted Brand British but maybe too subtly. Is it time to really shout about it? In a post-Brexit economy, British Brands need to flourish. However it feels like to the Union Jack flag has become a political statement rather than a symbol of a proud unified nation. Maybe Janet is right and we are looking to the past for our British identity. Is it now time for the Union Jack to return as a symbol of the quality and craftsmanship for the British Brand!?!