Two British knitwear industry entrepreneurs have partnered to create a knitwear design studio with the facility to support their clients with prototyping and micro-production, in North East England. KnitLab North British Knitwear Prototyping has now officially launched and has started a Crowdfunder in order to expand its prototyping and manufacturing capacity.
Jo Storie, a knitwear designer, and Jo Lennon, who owns an organic babywear business, met on a digital business course for their respective businesses and decided to collaborate on a knitwear project, which lead to the creation of the new design studio.
“We decided to collaborate to build an organic British baby knitwear brand as part of Jo Lennon’s business and we designed a beautiful collection,” the partners explain. “The barriers we came across in trying to ‘make it British’ were a real eye opener, no factories wanted to work with a retailer looking to make such small quantities to test out in the market and we were dedicated to manufacturing in the UK so taking our development and micro-production offshore wasn’t an option for us.”
“Jo Storie supports a range of clients across the UK with its design and manufacturing and comes across this barrier to ‘making it British’ a lot. Businesses looking to make small quantities as a step towards having their own collection without the commitment to making hundreds of pieces to sit on stockroom shelves.”
After hitting multiple barriers, the duo made the decision to develop a knitwear design studio with the facility to support their clients with prototyping and micro-production. So many designers and small businesses give up on their dreams for products designed and made in Britain and we’re going to change that.
Why KnitLab North?
The world is changing, and wasteful mass manufacture has had its day, the pair say. Retailers and designers need more manageable solutions to fast fashion; make to order not mass produced. We’ve experienced the old system – and we know how to fix it, they say.
According to the designers, KnitLab North is about responsible and sustainable manufacture, making what you need, when you need it. Making what you need to test the market and allow you to develop slowly and responsibly without jumping in at the deep end, they add.
“Using the latest technology we can help you develop your collections virtually, enabling you make changes and get customer feedback without ever needing to knit a garment. Once you’re happy with your pieces you can make your collection on a small scale and test the market – only committing to larger volumes when you know you have the audience to sell them to,” KnitLab North says.
“Sustainable production enables a tested approach to manufacture and speeds up the final prototyping phase – reducing waste, reducing mistakes and changes, and reducing sampling costs.”
The technology the lab utilises is Shima Seiki’s advanced WHOLEGARMENT, which allows increased efficiencies and reduction in production costs.
“But KnitLab North isn’t only about developing your knitted piece, it’s the support you need to develop a brand, a market and a plan to reach your goals. With support for strategic marketer Jo Lennon you can ensure you launch your product with a go to market plan, a polished brand and an audience to launch to,” the team says.
“Whether you need all of our services or whether you’re just looking for design, marketing support or micro-production we’re here to support you in achieving your vision.”
Watch KnitLab North Our Story…
“We’ve been working hard in getting the facility ready to work with customers as a brand innovation hub. We’ve raised the finance needed to get the studio ready and to purchase the first machine to support our clients so we’re good to go,” KnitLab North says.
“Now we have the opportunity to grow and secure an additional machine for the facility, one which will increase the range of support we can offer clients and increase the type of products we can make. For this we need to raise an additional £65,000 to help us purchase another machine.”
“We wanted to give something back as a thank you for supporting our project. Whether you can donate £10 into the pot, or you have really deep pockets or are banking a knitwear design project with us we are hugely grateful for your support. Your support in helping us realise a dream, develop an industry for the region, and accelerate a move towards sustainable fashion,” Jo Storie says.
“The products we’re offering as rewards are currently in development so we can bring you some beautiful products. We’ll contact you once the crowdfunding is complete so we can share with you any choices you’ll be able to make for colour and size.”
“Regardless of how much you put in you’ll always get one of our KnitLab North mugs for a great old British cup of tea as a huge thank you,” the entrepreneurs conclude.