Not since the early days have we had all our stock and operations under one roof. In fact, the last time was back in 2011 and in a shared two-room office above a bar in central Brighton – with founders Dave and Oli crammed in amongst boxes packing orders in between their day job of designing for action sports brands.
When they took the decision to use a fulfilment company it was more so they could see their keyboards rather than any part of a grandiose plan. Fast-forward nine years to the present day, and after several months of planning, cleaning, painting and building we are now finally in our own warehouse. We're surrounded by stock and not quite settled, but at least able to see our keyboards thanks to the office we – well, Shoreham Woodwork Company – built.
So why the move, and why now? As many of you know we continue to be, and are proud of being, a small brand. We’re also self-funded which means that large overheads, such as using a third-party fulfilment, were a monthly headache. You can convince yourself it saves time and is more efficient but really it began to create more frustrations as we became increasingly restricted by what we couldn’t do. For example we wanted to go back to including stickers in all orders (who doesn’t love free stickers?) but we were told that they had to be barcoded and put in small plastic bags! Free Nikwax samples? Nope. They didn’t want the responsibility.
But it wasn’t just about the frustrations and costs. As you may have noticed over the last year we have a core commitment to improving our sustainability. Moving into our own warehouse has meant we can keep a closer eye on the details, such as ensuring all power is from renewable sources, to testing less-wasteful means of posting out orders (using hardwearing reusable, recycled and recyclable mailing bags) and packaging products without plastic bags. Some of these you won’t see immediately but rest assured they are all in the pipeline for this year. We are also very excited about the prospect of setting up our own repair program and also looking at innovative ways of upcycling redundant products in partnership with Brighton University.
It’s not just about the environment and aiming to be a zero waste company. It’s also about people and society. We looked for a long time to find a suitable new home and it was worth the wait. Our premises is owned by a Community Interest Group called East Brighton Trust who take all our rent and put it into a grant scheme that help events and activities in the local area.
After twelve years this feels like the fresh start we have been waiting for. A chance to build the brand into a circular and sustainable business that puts the environment and social responsibility at its core with it all starting in our new home.