The Power of the Story – Selling British-made brands

July 11, 2014 15.25

In writing about British menswear brands for some years, I’ve come to realise that there is a common thread to them all. They all have fascinating stories to tell; stories about how they started, about their craftsmen and women, their suppliers or the raw materials they use. While my main interest is menswear, the idea of using a story to sell your products is easily transferrable to any industry and product.

You’re a small British brand making leather bags by hand. You started the business five years ago. You had no experience of leather work, but you attended evening classes and talked to a local worker you know. You ran up a few bags for the use of your family. Friends spotted them and wanted bags too; so you made a few for them. It occurred to you to see if you could sell a few at a local craft market. They sold well, so you returned next week. More recently you opened a shop on Etsy and as this did so well you started your own website which now sells almost more than you can make. So, you’ve employed someone to help you and are considering outsourcing more work. A household name has come knocking, thinking about selling your products in its London store…. (this story will continue).

This may not be your story; but it has elements many brands attending Best of Britannia will recognise. It’s a good story with many interesting features, the early struggles of the entrepreneur, crafts skills being acquired, the business growing well. There are elements that describe your workers’ skills, the tools and the raw materials you use – the leather, wool or wood, the hammers, chisels and beautifully-engineered machinery.

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It’s a story to tell in print and also through images. Customers, real and potential, love to read and see pictures illustrating such stories. They give your product a human face.

The small business making quality products within these shores has a very powerful message to tell. Consumers are becoming concerned about the ethics of mass-production in poor parts of the world and are questioning the sustainability of carrying goods long distances – with the accompanying financial and environmental costs.

Fashion photographer Jonathan Daniel Pryce and I recently published the first issue of a magazine celebrating British-made menswear and the stories behind brands involved. Given out free at London Collections: Men, our publication Man/Men (Manufacturing Menswear) excited great interest. Why not try something similar for your business and product? If you would like help in creating your story, please get in touch with me through Grey Fox Blog.

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