Before they made a jacket, Pennte jacket co. The founders Becky Okell and Huw Thomas talked about historical fashion on Instagram.
For their followers, this is a community that talks about everything about jackets.
For Becky and Huw, this is product development research.
But for the entrepreneurial world, it is just called “public works.”
Originally out of enthusiasm, building buildings in public places became Paynter’s secret of success: when the two launched the first Paynter jacket, it sold out within a few minutes.
From Buffered Small business, big lesson Podcast episode three As well as the accompanying unpublished interview, Becky and Huw explained how they chose to build in public places, their shared spirit, and how public construction built Paynter.
Rebuild the iconic jacket and discover opportunities
Huw used to work for a small denim brand in Wales, where he would remove the fabric from the floor of the cutting room and sew his own jacket. He also has a hobby, which is to buy vintage jackets and take them apart to see how they are made.
Then came the iconic blue jacket. He couldn’t take it apart at all, but desperately wanted to recreate it.
Soon after the two met, they shared his enthusiasm with Becky, and the two decided to remake the jacket together. They managed to get in touch with a retired Burberry pattern maker who developed the first pattern for them. From there, they participated in Premier Vision, as Becky said, “the holy grail of the fashion trade show.”
“Basically your job is to walk at least 20,000 steps in three days or a day, meet as many people as possible, explain what you are doing, and try to get people to join,” Becky said.
After meeting so many different people and companies who helped make a jacket, Becky and Huw began to consider sharing this journey online. They get inspiration from personal pain: they like the work of other designers, but hope that these people can share their journey.
“We are looking at the references of brands that we really like and admire, and I hope they will share their process in the early days… Why is their logo the way it is now?” Becky said. “Why do they have two logos? Why is their art direction like this?”
This is a concept they discovered by accident, and they later referred to the study as a public building.
“We thought… if we were to be a brand that anyone mentioned, it would be really cool to have an open book from the beginning,” Becky said.
After the spark of Premier Vision, the two officially decided to set up a jacket company. It took five months from participating in the trade show to preparing to launch their first jacket, but in the end it took nine months.They shared the whole journey Instagram.
“We shared the whole thing on Instagram-things that we are satisfied with, things that we are not satisfied with -” Hugh said. “We even let people vote to decide what color they want to see.”
Huw and Becky also shared their journey of establishing a business, including the less flashy parts, such as figuring out how to fund operations by selling property on eBay.
“We are very, very keen to keep Paynter independent and run by the two of us. We don’t have enough funds to actually produce with the factory,” Huw said. “So we share on Instagram, we share what we sell on eBay at the post office, just to raise as much money as possible to cover production costs.”
Then, I clicked something.
When visiting a factory in Portugal to make jackets, they shared the whole process of jacket making: buttons, garment dyeing, assembling parts and so on. Their audience is not enough.
“For the first time I think of names of people we haven’t heard of-they are not friends or family,” Becky said. “At that time you started to realize, wow, we are not just talking to ourselves, there is more about this.”
People even wanted to book jackets, but Becky and Hugh realized that the fabric was not suitable. In keeping with the vision of a quality first, independent brand, they made the difficult decision to postpone the batch for four months so they could get the fabrics they wanted. But all the time, they have been talking to people and sharing their journeys on Instagram.
Finally, Becky and Huw are preparing to launch the first Paynter jacket. They had about 600 fans at the time, and they soon sold out.
Public buildings involve every element of business
Paynter publishes four times a year and attaches great importance to customer feedback. For them, building in a public place is not about sharing their journey in one way, but about interacting with customers throughout the creation process.
“We always involve customers before making all final decisions about the product,” Becky said. “For example, we know that we definitely want to make certain colors, but we are happy to open our hearts to the floor and see what colors the customer wants. So this might just be in a simple Instagram voting system, it might be a TypeForm. It’s all very low-fidelity, but we just want to make sure we’re listening to people and understanding their views on things.”
“Now every jacket we produce has a small card pocket, and we have a person named Max thanks for this pocket,” Becky continued. “He’s on Eurostar [train] Text us about his favorite jacket, but hope it has a card pocket, and we are like, well, great, thinking it’s done. “
They also get feedback on what people don’t like, which can be difficult at times, but in the end it will bring great moments to customers.
“One of the best parts of listening to the audience’s advice is to show that you are listening,” Hugh said. “for [example], The fourth batch. We may have 10 colors. We haven’t fully selected the last few. There is an emerald green that we don’t plan to make, but people like it very much, so we brought it in, and people’s response was very good. They are gone, wow, this is a listening brand. “
Build an ethical company
For Pent, it was a very conscious decision to run only four times a year. They are always sold out and have more demand, but they don’t want to cause any waste in the company, whether in terms of production or the extra effort required to maintain larger operations.
Huw and Becky did not expand production, but instead devoted their energy to telling stories with jackets. Now, every Paynter jacket comes with a thank you card, which contains a link to a complete digital story about the origin of the jacket, including videos from artisans who made different works such as buttons or pockets.
In addition to the culture of not wasting and not increasing the environmental hazards that fast fashion may cause, Becky and Huw also like the unique feeling that customers get when buying Paynter jackets, because they know that not everyone can get one, and Its quality is very high, so it will last for a while.
And because of the small batch, many people in the world are the only owners of Paynter jackets in their country.
“Wow, that must be cool,” Hugh said. “You are the only person in that country who owns that jacket.”