FROM SMALL ACORNS…
On the 6th May 2017 FINDRA will take its first step into the world of bricks and mortar retail.
This is an exciting part of the FINDRA journey and it feels to us like a very natural step to take.
FINDRA exists to provide awesome women with functional, stylish clothing to wear while they kick ass enjoying the great outdoors. Our ethos is about empowering and encouraging women to look good, feel good and perform to the best of their abilities.
As a brand, we have our customers at the heart of our business and we want them not only to enjoy wearing our products to enable them to do what they love, but also to have the best possible experience when shopping with us. We want to inspire and motivate them, and I have always believed having a physical retail space allows us to do this and more.
Retailing has been part of my vision for FINDRA from the very beginning. I was, and still am, inspired by brands such as Rapha and Sweaty Betty. Brands that are confident about their identity. Brands who aim to showcase to their customer their brand vision through their bricks and mortar retail. Brands that the customer knows will give them more than just a shopping experience.
Since launching in December 2014 we have built up a loyal following of FINDRA fans who have bought our products through our online shop and across numerous wholesale customer platforms. Over the last 2 years I have attended many trade shows up and down the country getting the opportunity to meet with, and speak directly to, our customers. The biggest insight I discovered was that many women said they had read about or seen our brand online and were curious to see what the products looked and felt like in real life. Meeting our customers face to face gave us the opportunity to tell them more about the brand, talk about the products in more detail and discuss many things from the size of boobs to… well, just about anything! I have loved these conversations and have even made a few new friends off the back of our chats! These conversations enlightened the customer and gave them confidence in who we are and why we are here. All of which confirmed my belief that brick and mortar is an essential part of our business model.
So, having established that, we wanted a retail space, but why would we open one in a small borders town with a population of only 3500 people?
Well there is method in our apparent madness!
Innerleithen is less than an hour from Edinburgh yet worlds away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Like many other places in the Borders, Innerleithen’s success was built on wool and knitwear. Now tourism, of which mountain biking plays a huge part, has supplanted the wool industry and plays a large part in the present growth in population and business opportunities.
With over 330,000 visitors per year to the Tweed Valley and plans by the local council to look at the development of additional outdoor activity facilities, there can be no better place to start on this exciting retail adventure.
The cycling industry forms a fundamental reason as to why we exist. In 2016 marketing intelligence agency, Mintel, projected that the UK sports clothing and footwear markets would be worth £5.7 billion. A recent Scottish Enterprise report went on to predict that total sales of bike clothing and footwear could be worth £83 million by 2025. With Mountain Biking only a small part of the overall cycling industry, there is a lot of potential.
Our first step is a modest one, but a big one nevertheless, and one which has been inspired by two of my favourite entrepreneurs. Paul Smith and Anita Roddick.
The designer Paul Smith, opened his first shop called ‘Paul Smith Vêtement Pour Homme’ at 10 Byard Lane, Nottingham in 1970. It was the only shop outside London to sell labels like Kenzo and Margaret Howell, and Smith soon started selling pieces that he had designed himself and had made up by local manufacturers.
“That first shop was only 12ft square and I thought, “There’s not much to see. Why would anyone come?” But come they did and it wasn’t long before he had followed on with a retail presence in London and plans to take on the world.
In business for over 40 years, Paul Smith established himself as the pre-eminent British designer. From such humble beginning’s Smith has built a business, which wholesales to 66 countries.
Anita Roddick opened the first Body Shop in 1976 with the aim of making an income for herself and her two daughters while her husband was away in South America. The idea was to provide quality skin care products in refillable containers, all marketed with truth rather than hype. She opened her second shop six months later.
‘Everything was done on a shoestring budget with no concession to aesthetics’. She painted the shop green because it hid everything, even the damp spots on the walls.
By 2004, the Body Shop had 1980 stores, serving over 77 million customers throughout the world. It was voted the second most trusted brand in the United Kingdom, and 28th top brand in the world. On 17 March 2006, L’Oréal purchased Body Shop for £652 million.
FINDRA welcomes an exciting new beginning, which we believe, will be an inspirational part of our story, just like Paul Smith and Anita Roddick’s.
A welcoming space where we can meet our customer and share our vision. An interactive space where we will invite inspirational speakers and athletes to share their stories and motivate women to enjoy our products whilst participating in activities in the great outdoors.
I genuinely believe that from small acorns great business can grow.