Hawthorn founder: Brexit currency dip meant our products lost a fifth of their value
As a business which is reliant on an overseas supply chain to produce its good, Hawthorn felt the impact of the Brexit vote more than most.
(1) Who are you and what’s your business?
My name is Tom Lovelace and I’m co-founder and director at Hawthorn, a premium clothing manufacturer based in London. We produce custom goods for a range of clients from small fashion brands to larger corporates.
(2) How long have you been around for?
We have been trading in this business for just over three years, since 2014. However, wehave been around for longer than that as weused to have our own clothing brand which developed into Hawthorn.
(3) How do you make money?
As a clothing manufacturer, we produce items in bulk. Producing in bulk means that our processes are very automated, and a lot of cost goes in to manufacturing just the first piece the subsequent items are much more cost efficient. In addition, our factory is based overseas, which allows us to take advantage of cost efficient labour and raw material rates.
(4) What makes you different and why should people take notice?
We are unique in the fact that we offer the lowest minimum order quantities in the world for custom clothing, something we achieve by having full control of our own facility. Some manufacturers ask for minimum orders starting from 300 pieces, for example, whereas we can produce the same products, to just as high a level of quality, if not better and at a quantity from just 50 pieces.
(5) What was key in terms of getting started?
As I mentioned previously, my business partner and I actually had a clothing brand before starting Hawthorn. Our brand was essential for starting up Hawthorn because it grew from our own struggle to find a manufacturer who could produce high quality items at the lower quantities required by smaller brands. Once we discovered that the problems we were having were actually very common and there really was nobody out there who could help, we decided to set up our own overseas facility and to begin producing for others in our situation.
(6) What setbacks have you had along the way?
The main setback we have had in business was the fall in the value of the pound after Brexit. Because we produce everything overseas, and as such deal in US dollars with our supply chain, we rely a lot on the stability of our currency. Brexit instantly wiped 20 per cent off the value of everything we did overseas and unfortunately it still hasn’t risen back to where it was before. As we strive to always give the best possible service and products to our clients, we have had to absorb some of these losses, which isn’t easy.
Praseeda Nair is the editorial director of Business Advice, and its sister publication for growing businesses, Real Business. She's an impassioned advocate for women in leadership, and likes to profile business owners, advisors and experts in the field of entrepreneurship and management.
Here, Neil Clothier, a senior strategist at Huthwaite International, talks the art of negotiation, the David Davis approach and what small business owners can learn from conversations in Brussels. more»