Small Business Support Blog

If you are interested in reading about how to get your business visible online, with regular insights into being an entrepreneur and navigating your way through the business world, then this blog is for you!

We regularly post interesting articles on topics on leadership, management and visibility - with guest articles and features from experts in their field.

If you are interested in collaborating and would like to do a guest feature then please email [email protected] 

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  1. #ReasonsIstarted

    VICTORIA LEIGH

     

    Foreword from Pamela

    This series of amazing stories from fiercely feminine entrepreneurs documents the journey of some inspirational women who have founded and built incredible brands. These are stories of reinvention, stories of unlocking creativity and pivoting during the pandemic and managing adversity to demonstrate their passion and commitment to building a future legacy. 

    The next in the series is the incredible Victoria Leigh, founder of ethical fashion brand Tors & Co. When you hear about her purpose led business you will rethink your whole approach to fashion…

     

    It is time to fast forward from fast fashion…

    In 2018 my whole world fell apart when my marriage ended. I had always been a high achiever with big goals and even bigger dreams, but now, faced with chronic health conditions and a lack of confidence, I was broken and unsure of myself. I was so afraid that I just stood still, but I knew I had to start building new goals to be able to move forward.

    Why does fashion need to change?

    TORS & CO. AL FRESCO SWEATSHIRT

    With 25 years’ experience designing handbags and accessories for the High Street, I have seen first-hand the destruction and devastation that the fashion industry has on the world around us:

    • One garbage truck of textiles is either landfilled or burned every second. If nothing changes, the fashion industry will consume a quarter of the world’s annual carbon budget by 2050. (Source: Stella McCartney)
    • Half a million tonnes of textile microplastics enters oceans worldwide every year. (Source: IUCN) That is the equivalent of 50 billion plastic bottles!
    • Only 1% of clothing is effectively recycled. (Source: Ellen MacArthur)
    • 3 out of 5 t-shirts made today, will enter landfill within 12 months. (Source: Mary Creagh BBC)
    • 64% of regular clothing is made of plastic. (Source: Friends of the Earth)
    • The fashion industry is responsible for 10% of humanity's carbon emissions. That's more emissions than all international flights and maritime shipping combined. (Source: UNEP)
    • The dyeing process uses enough water to fill 2 million Olympic-sized swimming pools each year. (Source: WRI)

    These statistics are truly shocking and with a passion for the environment, my whole career went against my core values. So, I started thinking about how I could change this. I wanted to prove that you could make fashion sustainably whilst still being affordable… although at that stage I wasn’t even sure it was possible!

    As many of you will know, the industry is full of GREEN-WASHING, with many retailers making big ‘ECO’ claims that are totally misleading their customers. I will never understand brands (big and small) who make clothing out of recycled plastic bottles. Every time these garments get put in the wash, they release microplastics back into the waterways, it makes no sense at all and actually makes the problem worse.

    In light of this, it was important to me that I built a brand that people would and could, truly trust. A ‘go to’ where they could shop without guilt, knowing that I have produced something that is as sustainable as currently possible.

    My goal was set, now I had to find a way of achieving it! So, I started looking for potential suppliers. After months of research, I eventually found someone, but it almost seemed too good to be true. They ticked everything on my list and more. That is when I learnt all about a CIRCULAR ECONOMY, and the reality of my brand Tors & Co. had finally begun. 

    CIRCULAR FASHION

    The Brand

    Tors & Co. is a combination of sustainability and all things animals, mainly inspired by my own menagerie and lifestyle.

    TORS &CO. I WANT A PONY SWEATSHIRT

    Our clothes are made from 100% GOTS certified organic cotton and made in a renewable energy powered factory. Our dying process is on a closed loop system, so the water is filtered and then reused again and again. The filtering is so good that the water is actually drinkable after dying and the waste from the filters is used for road markings. Every product is designed to be remade, when you’ve finished with them send them back and we will recycle them into a new T-shirt. We will give you a £5 discount on your next purchase as a thank you. This process can be repeated over and over again so that they never end up in landfill. Our whole production line is SA8000 certified meaning we meet the very highest ethical standards. All our packaging is 100% plastic free and made from FSC approved recycled paper; even our labels are made from the scraps of cotton swept up from the factory floor, which is turned into paper. I am so proud to work with my supplier, they are constantly evolving, investing and trying to find new ways of improving the whole system.

     TORS & CO. FIERCE BOXY T-SHIRT

    The Challenges

    My main challenge is visibility. Although I am small, I have extremely loyal customers. But getting noticed in a fog of Green Washing and educating people on my plight, is proving difficult. Since joining Pamela’s Privilege Group, I am learning all about SEO and I am hoping this will move Tors & Co. to the next level in 2021.

    The Future of Fashion

    TORS & CO. APRES HOODIE

    Can you imagine a world where all industries are circular?

    The fashion industry has a lot to answer for! The big retailers have the money and power to really make a difference, but they are failing miserably and whilst consumers continue to buy, they will continue to produce fast fashion.

    Well, Tors & Co is here now… proving that it can be done, so what is stopping them?

     

  2. #ReasonsIstarted

    Sally Moonraker

     

    Foreword from Pamela

    This series of amazing stories from fiercely feminine entrepreneurs documents the journey of some inspirational women who have founded and built incredible brands. These are stories of reinvention, stories of unlocking creativity and pivoting during the pandemic and managing adversity to demonstrate their passion and commitment to building a future legacy. 

    The next in the series is Sally Moonraker, creative designer and owner of Nine Yellow Birds an innovative polymer clay jewellery and accessories brand…

     

    Nine Yellow Birds: ‘a story behind every piece’

    Miniatures have always been in my blood- I’ve adored them since I was tiny, but before Nine Yellow Birds came about, my focus, which is still my other passion, was photography. I hope to continue improving my photographic skills within my product photos, in the future. Photography may not be my job now, but it’s still a huge part of my life and will continue to be so.

    Nine Yellow Birds was born from a passion of miniatures. I’ve always adored doll houses, miniature items and anything tiny!  When I discovered polymer clay, and realised (through ALOT of trial and error!) that I could actually work with the medium, with some ok results, I decided to try making my own miniatures- primarily food.

    Nine Yellow Birds Resin Jewellery

    I can’t explain what drew me to it, it was like a magnet; or a magpie being drawn to shiny things. I just HAD to make miniature non edible items.  After watching a few YouTube videos- “Sugarcharmshop” and “Heather Wells”were my original inspiration and go tos. Soon, however, I discovered my own style coming out in my work and I spent less and less time watching tutorials to hone my skills, and more time just experimenting.

    Once I started, I couldn’t stop! I worked out that I much preferred creating sweet miniatures as opposed to savoury food. The more I made, the more I loved the medium and creating realistic looking minis. I’d definitely found my style.

    As I created more, I realised the market for miniatures, both in England and abroad, was saturated. In any form you can imagine- magnets, jewellery, stitch markers, needle keepers, crochet hooks... the list goes on. I decided to try and create something which I was looking for myself- but in my own style.

     Resin Jewellery

    That’s when Magpie’s Gold was born- a collection of trinket dishes and statement jewellery. Both of which still feature my signature miniatures, but also some new pathways. I am inspired by nature, nature is my canvas and the greatest paint palette. Everything I create, somehow is linked back to nature.

     

    My trinket dishes, heavily feature the solar system and flowers. My style is mainly abstract. The solar system dishes, also carry over into my jewellery and can be bought as sets- for example, a Mars inspired dish with Earth inspired earrings. There’s something for everyone!

     Miniature Resin Shapes

    Within my jewellery, I wanted to create something I hadn’t found on the market. Something I was happy with and would like to wear, which also provided happiness for others. I found that many of the statement earrings out there, were literally HUGE! I didn’t want that. While I still provide large statement earrings for those who like that, I wanted to create a range which was beautiful but still small enough to wear daily. I also wanted to create dangles AND studs. Why can’t studs be gorgeous, too?!

    I hope I have created something for everyone- miniatures for those who love collectibles and dolls houses. Trinket dishes for those who have jewellery, hair ties, even coins, just lying around and earrings for everyone- men can wear the studs too!

    I create all my work with themes or seasons in minds- we have loads of items for Christmas coming up. Why can’t you have seasonal trinket dishes? Everything else is rotated to decorate for Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, why can’t dishes and earrings be changed too?! 

    Unlike big companies; EVERYTHING here at Nine Yellow Birds, is slow made in micro batches. You’re not going to get perfect, mass produced, identical products. I had mix colours, hand cut, hand sand, and put all the components together myself. NYB is a one woman band!  My friends and family take the mick out of me- I have patience for nothing else but clay! I spend hours working with this beautiful medium, but anything else?! I have no patience at all!

    I only send out products I’m 100% happy with; I pour my heart and soul into each piece and if I’m not happy with something, I’ll remake the entire thing!  In the future, I hope to expand my jewellery line- I have SO many ideas! I also really hope to make some more connecting pieces with my dishes and jewellery.

    The miniatures will be firmly staying put- the great thing about them, is they never go out of style! They’ll be firmly keeping their home here on the trinket dishes. With All the experimentation I have done, I have proved to myself that miniatures and jewellery are my passion and I will continue to make them. 

    As no two pieces will ever be the same, every purchase- miniatures and jewellery- will be unique to the buyer. I also enjoy the challenge of adapting pieces to personal request. You may also notice that every dish and earring has a hand placed piece of genuine gold or silver leaf.

     

    Find out more about Sally and her business by visiting her instagram profile!