In the early days of the business Skibz products were manufactured in China, but Chinese manufacturing costs have increased considerably and the MOQ on the product was 3,000 pieces of each design which can be difficult to sell within a season as shops like a fresh rotation of stock; not to mention the carbon emissions created during the 7 week shipping process.
The boring bits: The production of Skibz took around 6 weeks. Containers of products used to cost £500 to bring across, and that’s now £1,500 to £2,000. Import duty costs anything from 10%-12% . Chinese manufacturers now ask for a 50% payement before they even start to make products, which is quite a substantial outlay 3 months before you can even start to sell a product.
Inspired: It was around about the time that Mary Portas launched her Kinky Knickers and started to promote and encourage British production that Helen, with her professional background in textiles, decided to pursue bringing her manufacturing back to England.
Helen invested in three types of industrial machines, a calibrated popper machine and spent several months researching where to obtain her fabrics and materials. Some of the materials are still purchased from China, as Britain could not compare in price, but production is now based in her workshop in Somerset, packaging is designed and printed by another Somerset company, and testing to ensure all products adhere to relevant EU and British standards takes place in Leicester.
Currently the UK production of Skibz costs 10%-20% more than Chinese production, but Skibz remain hopeful that they can reduce this within the next 12 months with further supplier research.
Since bringing production back to Somerset, Helen has been able to offer job opportunities to a number of locals. As well as an accountant, and a sales and marketing team, a technical advisor, a photographer, and a graphic designer Helen now employs 3 machinists to manufacture the products, as well as a number of casual staff to help pack and box.
There are many perks of bringing Skibz production back to the UK. As the business grows further, so will the local employment opportunities. Skibz can now do small runs on highly fashionable designs, meaning that she can please customers with new designs more frequently. Not only that, but Skibz can proudly say that their carbon footprint is reduced.
Helen says that, “I love the fact that we can now say Skibz are made in England and hope it can continue. On the 1st of July our new range of made in Britain Skibz will be available for sale – this being a very proud moment.”