Archives for category: Business

“Marks & Spencer (M&S) have embarked on a new project ‘Shwopping‘, whereby they are encouraging their customers to ‘shwop’ – swapping their unused garments in exchange for a 5GBP voucher which they can use towards purchasing new clothes at M&S. As part of this new campaign, M&S has covered an old truman brewery warehouse in east london, with unused clothes donated by the community to encourage their shoppers to recycle their garments by donating them to charity and decrease waste.

More than 1,200 ‘shwop drop’ boxes have been placed in numerous M&S locations around the UK, whereby the community can pitch their unwanted threads to be recycled and sold by Oxfam to help support those living in poverty.”
Via Designboom


Luciano Benetton will hand over the helm of the Italian fashion clothing company (BNG.MI) he helped found 47 years ago to his son this week, he said in an interview published on Sunday. Benetton and his family turned the company into one of Italy’s best known brands with more than 6,500 stores in 120 countries and a reputation for controversial advertising and bold colors, but it has struggled against new competitors. “The baton passes to my son Alessandro, who will become chairman,” Benetton, who turns 77 in May, said in an interview published in Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera. “After a run of 47 years, on Tuesday I will resign from the duties I hold in the company I founded with my siblings.” – Reuters

I actually read this story with not a small amount of disbelief. A family-run global business? In this day and age of smaller separated units of families? In the era of Internet-connected ‘friends’ and knowing that slowly and surely we are losing our interpersonal human touch? In this age of big business and monetary gain? It’s amazing to hear things like this. So, yes, they are Italian and the idea of the extended family (and family businesses) probably remains strong there, but it’s still great to have achieved this. The secret is probably that as Benetton develops it remains true to its roots, reliably reinventing themselves against fierce competitors but still keeping a bit of family and soul in their business. I love it.

To all our likers, comment-makers and general-passers-by here on the blog; to all our Facebook followers; and to all our Tweeters: a massive thank you for the support.
Just because.

Rich, dark and intriguing – 3 words I would use to sum up the ultimate chocolate experience and Hotel Chocolat have built a brand around that sensation. From small pack, to sumptuous gift box, to luxury store environment, and now to a hotel (!), you can experience this brand on so many levels; it is incredible. A quirky tone of voice and beautiful packaging supports a great product and brand.

Hotel Chocolat, founded by Angus Thirlwell and Peter Harris in 1988 (then called MMC), is a British chocolatier and cocoa grower, with 55 stores in the United Kingdom and 5 stores within the U.S.A. and the Middle East. The company went through several incarnations before becoming Hotel Chocolat and Angus and Peter have certainly hit on a winning formula. In 2006, the company officially acquired the Rabot Estate in St. Lucia, West Indies, and are to-date, the only company in the UK to own their own cocoa plantation. In 2011, Hotel Chocolat opened its hotel in Saint Lucia, West Indies – the hotel sits on the Rabot Estate which is perched high up between the Piton mountains.

Hubby and I actually got married in Soufriere, St Lucia, 11 years ago, and did a tour of a cocoa estate and an old plantation, both of which seemed rather depressed tourist tour destinations at the time. It is therefore delightful to hear of brands investing and re-invigorating industries which have been down and out for ages.

Here’s their inspiration behind the acquisitions in St Lucia:
Having grown up in the Caribbean, Angus has always been drawn to this string of little emerald islands. Five years ago, one of his lovely customers sent him an old book from the 1920’s about cocoa growing, which so enthused him that he set off with co-founder Peter Harris to find a cocoa estate to buy. Of all the Caribbean islands they visited, Saint Lucia was the most beautiful, worthy of its name The Helen of the West. In the south west of the island, close by the old French capital Soufriere, they first walked on Rabot Estate! Now Peter is usually quite a cautious person but after only half an hour, he exclaimed ‘This is it, we’ve got to have it!’

Dating back to 1745, the cocoa estate is the oldest on the island and home to some very rare old trees which are of significant scientific and chocolate interest. The first two years were spent rehabilitating the cocoa groves, restoring the original historic estate house and planning how they could open up this captivating experience to Hotel Chocolat customers. That’s when they decided to create an intimate and exclusive place, the real Hotel Chocolat, where nature, well-being, hedonism, style, and of course chocolate, would come together…

Orla Kiely is a qualified textile designer – a very difficult industry to survive in – but a clear head for business has turned her name and designs into a multi-million pound business. Orla has applied her graphic retro patterns to anything from homeware (storage jars, paper trays, bed linen, wallpaper, chairs, etc) to fashion (clothing, handbags, etc), and even to perfume and home fragrance. Here are a few examples of how just one of her designs, the iconic ‘Stem’ design, has been applied to a wide number of items..

And here is a brief synopsis of her career from Wikipedia:
Kiely qualified as a textile designer from the National College of Art and Design in Dublin and moved to New York to work for a wallpaper and fabric designer. She moved to England to work for Esprit, while undertaking a Masters at the Royal College of Art in London, primarily in knitwear. She displayed a range of hats in her exit show at the RCA, which were purchased by Harrods. She did design work for Marks & Spencer and Habitat.

She moved into handbags after her father noted during her first London Fashion Week that everyone was carrying a handbag, but no one was wearing a hat. In the late 90s, the idea of laminating cloth for handbags came to her, “At the time, no one was doing anything like it. Laminated fabric, in those days, meant tablecloths.”

Together with her husband, Dermott Rowan, she formed The Orla Kiely Partnership in 1997. Her husband explained in an interview, “Nothing was planned, the whole thing started by accident. Orla was consulting for other companies and designing her own collection at the weekend, which she would give to me to organise. We had this chaotic situation where deliveries of her designs would come into our apartment and if I didn’t get them out by 5pm, there was nowhere to sit!” Orla Kiely showed in London Fashion Week and secured her first export orders. The following year, they took the collection to Premiere Class.

She was featured on a stamp issued by the Republic of Ireland in July 2010, along with fellow designers Philip Treacy, John Rocha and Paul Costelloe. It is an 82c stamp, showing her name in large orange letters at the top along with an image of a handbag with her leaf design against a white background. Her fashion line has been seen on actresses such as Kirsten Dunst and Alexa Chung.

She has been awarded the title of Visiting Professor of Textiles at the Royal College of Art.

What I admire most about her is her openness to new directions and relentless pursuit of building her brand; yet her designs always still seem fresh and quirky and not over-commercialised.

You can view the full range of items (including other patterns) here.

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