Monday, November 10, 2014

Part 4 - Product - Designing, Selling and Manufacturing with Jamie and Catherine from Bread and Jam

Todays blog features husband and wife team Jamie and Catherine Douglas from Bread and Jam. Again we are talking product; designing, manufacturing and selling!

If you'd like to read the other wonderful blogs in this series, please click on the links below.

Setting up your website and shopping cart basics with Julie from Biz Yourself
Part 1 with Angie Spurgen - Artwork by Angie
Part 2 with Gabriella Buckingham - MooBaaCluck
Part 3 with Heather Moore - Skinny laMinx

Coming over the next few days.......

Thursday 13th November Part 5 with Jessica Hayman - Rosa and Clara Designs 
Sunday 16h November Part 6 with Laura Clempson - Clara and Macy 

You can connect with Bread and Jam here

1. Can you tell us a little background about yourselves and why you decided to sell product?

We design and produce happy things to make people smile. We have a range of products, from stationery to our very own fabric patterns, which have been designed to motivate, encourage happiness and not to mention, look great. As long as people continue to buy our wares and feel good about them, we will continue to design more. Some of what we do has been inspired by vintage pattern and humour and this can be seen influencing our repeat patterns and borders.

Our story starts with disaster, Bread & Jam started after losing another business at the height of the economic crash in 2008. Although it was amongst the toughest of times we have ever experienced, great things have happened as a result. Out of the ashes of one business, Bread & Jam took shape and we both felt compelled to work with each other for the good of the family. As a married couple, it's always a challenge to find the time to run the business with enough effectiveness to put bread on the table, whilst balancing the needs and desires of our young girls as they grow.

Making products in-house is a very important basis of the company. We could go ahead and license our designs and patterns and that may be, arguably a little easier to manage but we enjoy the hands on approach and it gives us something tangible to hold and appreciate. There's a huge sense of satisfaction when you're about to dispatch an order, knowing the levels of effort you have put into making the product as good as it can be and that soon, someone else will be enjoying the fruits of your labour.

2. What are the important things to keep in mind when researching the products you wish to sell and why did you choose the particular products that you sell now?

I'll be honest, we don't do a lot of research when it comes to designing our own products. We do research heavily into colour and pattern but as for the products, they are generally from the depths of our imagination. A lot of ideas for products don't tend to get off the ground as they are either far too outlandish or simply too expensive to make and as a result make them commercially unviable.

One of the major considerations when selecting a product or products to include in the range is whether we can produce the item in-house. On the whole we base a lot of our designs around what equipment we have to make the things with, in some ways, the equipment informs the designs. We sometimes look at a new piece of equipment and see how we can use it in different ways, ways that others are not and this gives us a point of difference.
Of course, we do keep an eye on the industry and we are aware of what others are doing but if anything, this actually tells us what not to do rather than enlightens the design process.

3. Which has been the most effective avenue for you to sell your products?

We have a good balance of selling channels at the moment but this has taken time to build up. Initially we sold through easily accessible sites like and Sites like these make it so easy to start selling your designs. It's all there for you, you just need to fill in the blanks really and then go and spread the word. 

We are NOTHS partners too and this continues to be the bread & butter sales channel for us, delivering most sales and being the most effective route to market for us. I would recommend NOTHS to anyone who wishes to push on and take the next steps of development. A little word of advice though, prepare yourself well for Christmas, it can be very busy indeed and if you're not ready it can be very overwhelming and a baptism of fire.
*NOTHS is Not on the high street - A selling platform in the UK

It's worth noting, we don't favour one channel over another necessarily, it's never an either or, we've always seen all our channels as important as the next and give them all the same amount of attention.

4. How important is having a business mentor (if you use one) How have they helped you grow your business?

We don't actually have a business mentor, mainly because our location is very rural and isolated but we do have people who we can turn to and ask questions. Social media plays a huge role in our business, especially Facebook. We are part of a group of like minded business owners (design and craft orientated) who are all at different stages of development and we all use each other as sounding blocks and between us we have a wealth of experience to share with other group members. With us being some remote, it's essential for us to have some form of forum whereby we can ask questions but also give advice, this works well for us.

5. How important do you think selling platforms like NOTHS and Etsy are? 

We've been very lucky in a lot of ways, we were approached by NOTHS and we duly accepted their invitation to sell with them. It gives us a very solid partnership to move forward with, we're flattered and feel good about selling with them and they have already bought into us and our style so right from the get go, both sides of the partnership are happy with the relationship. NOTHS has been and continues to be the back bone of the company, delivering us the most sales and providing us with a solid basis from which to grow and develop. I wouldn't say that we couldn't have got to our current level without them but they have been instrumental in our development and continue to deliver great results.

Our website does perform reasonably well for us but there's no way we could reach the exposure and customer base that we get through NOTHS, not without huge investment or much more time and effort at least.

6. How much has wholesaling been a part of your success?

Retailing our wares through traditional, bricks and mortar stores is again hugely important to us. I think it lends credibility to what we do, retail buyers have shown faith in us and our products and seeing our products on physical shelves gives us a really great buzz. It does throw up some interesting conundrums however. Retailing online and retailing through shops has some very different requirements.

We are now beginning to think about how the product retails on the shelf much earlier in the process, whether that's through packaging of through point of sale material.  Also, wholesale customers are a very different animal to retail customers and as a result they need to be cared for in very different ways. For example, with a retail customer (online) you will very rarely enter into a dialogue or have any contact with at all and you rely on the quality of your products in order to have them come back and shop with you again. Whereas, wholesale customers on the whole, prefer direct contact, even a face to face meeting at some stage to cement the relationship and come back to buy from you again.

7. Looking back, what would you do differently if you were to start all over again?

We've always taken a view that when the time comes to look back, we will try not to regret a single thing. Sure we make mistakes, that's what makes us human but as long as we're learning and making the adjustments so we don't make the same mistakes again then it can't be a bad thing can it?

8. Any extra tips and advice for budding designers who want to sell their own product?

Well we're all different and each of us has different requirements so there's not a "one fits all" bit of advice but there are some things which have helped us along the way. We've mentioned earlier about having somewhere you can go to extract advice and use as a sounding board but don't forget the ones around you. Your family and friends can make the difference between success and failure, without their support you will find it difficult for sure. Don't judge your success or the success of your products by the success of other sellers around you. Be inspired by other creative people and companies are doing but do not compare your level with theirs. The reality behind closed doors can be very different the image portrayed via social media and press. Finally, have faith in your own work and be bold. If you can't extol the virtues of your own work, how can anyone else? On the whole, if you think your work has value then someone else will too, have confidence in your own abilities.

Thanks so much Jamie and Catherine. We wish you all the very best for the future! Stay tuned for the next instalment in this series with the wonderful Jessica Hayman  from Rosa and Clara Designs.

If you have any comments, we would love to hear from you. Please comment below

No comments:

Post a Comment