Grow slow: Why we stopped selling clothes last year

In December 2020 we stopped selling all our threads (t-shirts, jumpers, etc).

The year had been surprisingly good in terms of people buying our stuff (thank you).

But we weren’t sure our clothing was really up to the standard of our books and other stuff.

And, it was being sent out in far too much packaging.

Here’s why we stopped and how we are improving what we do.

Kind of what we want to avoid when selling stuff.

Chapter 1: Stupid brave decisions

Previously, we were using a print-on-demand service to fulfil all our threads sales. This seemed like a great way to get things rolling without a big outlay, and the service was efficient.

The garments were decent enough, printing good, and environmental credentials mostly OK (except the excessive packaging and individual parcels being sent out).

But.

We were never fully in control of the processes involved in production.

Improving and reducing packaging weren’t options. Recycled materials weren’t available. We couldn’t guarantee renewable energy was being used in production. And occasionally the quality would waver.

This grated a bit.

We only ever want to make the best possible products. Never want to sell any old crap for profit. And we didn’t really expect to sell many threads but, before we knew it, they were flying out the door (relatively speaking – we’re still tiny, and every purchase helps us keep the lights on).

So, we made a brave or stupid decision (depends who you ask).

Chapter 2: Reverse business sense

Just before Christmas (i.e. when we were selling the most stuff), we removed from our website all the products being fulfilled from the on-demand service.

That was it. Revenue taps turned off. No more sales. All that momentum we’d built over the course of the year – now we were stopped in our tracks.

Gulp.

Slightly illogical in terms of standard business sense. But in our view, something to be proud of.

You shouldn’t sell something you don’t fully believe in.

Chapter 3: Making things better

Since then, we’ve been working hard behind the scenes to start from scratch with our clothing.

We know it can go somewhere and want to take it far.

Sturdy plans need solid footing.

As we begin to relaunch our threads, this is how we’ve improved:

  • Print quality: All our clothes and accessories are now screen printed or digitally printed in the UK by a well-respected and environmentally conscious company using only renewable energy
  • Materials: From now on, we will only ever use organic or recycled materials in all our clothing and accessories
  • Inks: Our clothes are printed with water-based, solvent-free inks only
  • Durability: We will ensure the best possible value by making long-lasting products that we’ve trialled for months (wearing them day-to-day and for bike rides, washing them regularly, making sure stuff doesn’t fade or shrink or fall apart unacceptably)
  • Postage: All our books, zines, clothes, etc. are now sent from the same warehouse in the UK (so we send the fewest packages possible – to reduce wastage and save you money)
  • Packaging: Everything we make is now sent in recycled and recyclable packaging with as little plastic as possible (basically none, but occasionally a bit of plastic slips in. We’re trying to make sure this doesn’t ever happen)
  • Delivery: We’ve updated our postage service so it’s faster, more reliable and all global post is fully tracked
  • Spending wisely: We’ve set up a fund we’re calling ‘People and Planet’. The idea is simple: we put a set amount per new product (e.g. £1 for the Meltdown tee) into a purse that we’ll eventually spend on people, places and organisations we think warrant a bit of support. That might mean riders going racing, trail builders crafting, charities cleaning up the forest, and so on. If you’ve got a suggestion, please get in touch
  • Side note: all our books and zines are now produced using carbon-neutral energy and sustainable (FSC-certified) or recycled (from post-consumer waste) paper

Chapter 4: Our future

We’ll be adding new items slowly but surely.

We’d love it if you’d keep an eye on what we’re doing and support us through considered purchases.

We hope our stuff will inspire you to get out on a bike.

Cheers.

Check out our new limited-edition Meltdown t-shirt here

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CORE TEAM:
FOUNDER-DIRECTOR: James McKnight
CO-DIRECTOR: Ben Winder
CO-DIRECTOR: Mike Rose
CO-DIRECTOR: Victor Lucas
CREATIVE DIRECTOR: Chris Jones
DOOD OF DOODLES: Jon Gregory

REGULARS:
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Sebastian Schieck: Photography
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