Securing £200k of funding has helped an award winning Scottish fashion designer move into new premises, take on staff and open her first retail outlet.
Alex Feechan, who launched FINDRA, a women’s cycle and outdoor clothing brand, in 2014 after using advice from Business Gateway Scottish Borders, secured the financial support through two Angel syndicates and The Scottish Investment Bank.
The expansion provides increased office and warehouse space, allowing the business, which has seen turnover double year-on-year, to increase staff from four to six and house more product to meet growing demand.
The new base in Innerleithen also allows FINDRA to use its first retail space as a dedicated area to showcase its clothing to buyers as well as the general public.
Now, Alex, the former Head of Design for a luxury Scottish golf and lifestyle brand, is using Business Gateway’s connections to revamp FINDRA’s digital presence to help scale and grow the brand further.
Alex said: “When you start a business you have the vision but you don’t have all the answers, and that is why I feel extremely fortunate to be working with my Business Gateway adviser, Sandra Campbell. Being able to tap into her experience and knowledge of the textile industry, and by working with her to breakdown my plans into achievable goals, she has helped me get FINDRA to where it is today.
“Her input also ensured FINDRA’s financial readiness for investment and with her guidance we successfully accessed Scottish Enterprise’s (SE) Growth Pipeline, which has connected us to experts we would otherwise not have had access too. Currently we are working with a specialist in SE’s Digital Transformation team who is helping us to create a new website and digital strategy which will be fundamental in helping me reach my goal of making FINDRA a global brand.”
Sandra Campbell, Adviser, Business Gateway said: “Alex has created a brand that the cycling industry has embraced alongside everyday cyclists, walkers, runners and hikers. With our help she has laid down strong foundation from which to grow her enterprise, and our connections and network will now help her as she works to make FINDRA a worldwide success.”
Alex came up with the initial idea for FINDRA after she couldn’t find suitable clothing to wear when mountain biking. Spurred on by an email from Scottish Enterprise, who were looking for people with business ideas relating to mountain biking to contact them, she began a two year process of designing both a brand identity and a collection.
Using innovative technology to produce light weight tops made from merino wool, a naturally waterproof and temperature regulating material, denim shorts that are wind and showerproof and a range of accessories, FINDRA’s first collection was an immediate hit.
Interest from Wiggle.co.uk led to FINDRA’s own brand page on the leading online retailer’s website which launched in September 2015, just a few months after www.findra.co.uk went live. The following year, Alex was awarded £75k from Scottish Edge which helped her taken on her first member of staff.
Alex said: “FINDRA celebrates strong confident women who enjoy participating in outdoor sports. The business has come a long way in a short period of time, and there have been many challenges but I’ve kept to my vision and that is paying dividends.”