Hello Dear Friends of FINDRA
A very Merry Christmas & Happy New Year to you all! I hope you are all enjoying a great festive period and are looking forward to 2022!
Before we head into a new year, I wanted to do a wee round up on all that we got up to at FINDRA in 2021.
In a small business, there’s never a dull moment, and that has never been truer than in the last 2 years. I think we all thought the challenges of 2020 were behind us and hoped things would settle down, and we could put the stress of COVID behind us in 2021 but as we all know that just wasn’t to be!
A perfect storm was brewing between COVID and Brexit and the ripple effects have caused so many ongoing issues for businesses across all sectors and FINDRA has been no different! Having got through another Lockdown at the start of the year, we faced new challenges as the year went on with supply chain issues, problems with delivery and a frustrating inability (Post Brexit) to sell directly to our lovely customers in Europe!
But like everyone else, we rolled up our sleeves and got on with things, made the most of the good stuff and navigated the negatives!
Keeping it in the Family
2021 at FINDRA got off to a busy start with online sales, which was fantastic but also challenging as we had 2 key members of staff working from home due to lockdown restrictions. One solution to the problem was to get my family involved, and we did, my youngest son Graeme joined us in January through Borders College Modern Apprenticeship Scheme, focusing on Customer Service. It was a very steep and fast learning curve for our new recruit who was thrown in at the deep end during a very busy period! But the good news is he survived and graduated with his apprenticeship in September and the even better news, we decided we would like him to stay, and he now works with us full time dealing with all customer service issues, by phone and email, not bad for a wet behind the ears young man!
As things progressed, we looked to recruit an additional team member, and so my middle son Jamie joined us in June as our online order fulfilment coordinator, working hard to get to grips with our processes and setting new records for getting orders processed and out of the door over these last few months in the lead up to Christmas.
Not to be outdone, my oldest son John also had a starring role at FINDRA in 2021, as he featured in our summer photoshoot, initially coming along to help out he was quickly invited by the photographer to get into some FINDRA and get on the other side of the camera! (He's the one looking cool and thoughtful!)
Moving down the Valley!
As things progressed and our online sales continued to grow, we found we were starting to burst at the seams a little bit (pardon the pun) in our existing workspace. My design area was gradually being taken over as a storage space for additional stock, as well as being the office space for everyone and doubling up as the lunch table most days – much to my annoyance!
As a result, we felt it was time to find some more space, and we made the decision to move the ‘operational’ part of the business to new premises, freeing up our existing premises in Innerleithen to become an even bigger retail space.
In July, we moved the design studio, office, warehouse and fulfilment to a new space in Walkerburn (the next town along the Tweed Valley from Innerleithen) to the aptly named building called “The Wool Store” a refurbished textile mill that was once part of the expansive Tweed Mills built and founded by Henry Ballantyne in 1846. Better known today as Ballantyne Cashmere.
Having studied and worked in the Scottish Fashion and Textile Industry for over 29 years, I am passionate about the Industry’s Heritage and feel proud that in our own way we as FINDRA continue to reference and nod to that provenance but also look forward and embrace the future and new opportunities for the textile industry.
In 2020, I used my time during lockdown to get creative and design new products which arrived throughout 2021. In the summer we headed off to the Cairngorms to do a 2-day photo shoot with some of our ambassadors, it was a pretty full-on couple of days, with glorious weather ( probably the only 2 days of sunshine we had in Scotland) so excellent timing. We had a fun few days, such a beautiful place and I would highly recommend visiting if you have not been, An Lochan Uaine (Green Loch) is especially beautiful.
What I wouldn’t recommend however is carrying a clothes rail up the Ryvoan path, I think that might be a first, ever!
Not only did we introduce new products and move to new premises, but we also moved to a new stock fulfilment system, which we love, and it has made a big difference! And in 2022 we will be launching our new web platform! Lots of new stuff has been happening!!
And if all of that wasn’t enough, FINDRA and I got our 15 minutes of fame!
From our starring role in the Business Gateway TV commercial to my status as the face of their ad campaign. Seeing myself on the back of many buses and billboards across Scotland, it was fun and very amusing receiving various messages over the last few months from friends and family telling me they had just spotted me on the back of the X62! In September we were visited at our Innerleithen shop by Laura Piper of STV and got a slot on the news, discussing all things sustainable ahead of COP26. We also made it into the Telegraph in the ‘style feature’ and last but not least! Our absolute favourite – seeing the FINDRA Stroma Jacket feature in the permanent exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland! FINDRA is now firmly placed in and part of popular culture! Not bad eh!
It has by all accounts been a busy year, with lots of firsts, lots of change and lots of challenges, but as always we embrace the journey and all it throws at us.
The FINDRA family is expanding!
As well as all the new stuff happening in-house, we have also grown our customer base and welcomed lots of lovely new friends of FINDRA online, which has been fantastic and the reason we are here!
I say it often but it’s so true, without you our lovely friends of FINDRA we really wouldn’t be here!
So a massive thanks to all of you for all your support encouragement and well wishes, it really does mean the world to us.
And finally, before we sign off, one last bit of good news, and another first for FINDRA, our lovely Friends of FINDRA Isla and Jules got married in the summer, and Isla wore FINDRA! How pleased were we! Here they are on their big day looking fantastic with Isla wearing our Route T-shirt in Moss Green, I first met Isla back in 2016 at the Eroica Bike Festival, she has remained a loyal customer since and introduced Jules to us too. You can read all about Jules and how she enjoys the great outdoors in her Sunday blog here.
Congratulation to Isla and Jules, we wish them all the very best for their future together and hope they enjoy many adventures together in the years to come!
As a team we are all looking forward to stepping back for a few days having some time off, being with our families and loved ones, eating, drinking, being merry and getting outdoors! So here’s to 2022 and all it holds! Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.
Alex and Team FINDRA.X
Favourite Outdoor Place: Cairngorms Having headed off to the Cairngorms in the summer to do a FINDRA photoshoot, I very quickly knew I wanted to go back asap for a few days biking! It's such a beautiful place with wonderful trails for walking or cycling, I especially loved seeing the An Lochan Uaine - the green lochan you can plan a walk or cycle using the Walking Highlands website.
Favourite Quote: Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations - author unknown Favourite TV Show: Succession As well as getting outdoors, and being with family, a favourite way to chill out and switch off for me is a good box set! This year’s absolute stonker was HBO’s 'Succession' It's brilliantly written, but not for the faint-hearted in terms of language and some of the content. The characters as so awful you can’t help but love them! Not everyone’s cup of tea though, so be warned if you do decide to give it a go! Favourite Music: September Fields by Frazey Ford My eclectic taste in music is often discussed at home, with mixed opinions on how good or bad it is! It makes me happy so I will go with that! ‘September Fields’ by Canadian ‘Frazey Ford’ is a favourite of mine, and according to Spotify, it’s one of my Top songs of 2021! Hope you enjoy it too!