Behind the Biz is my weekly interview series where I discover small and growing businesses, the people behind them and their business journey. Today’s interview is all about ethical and sustainable fashion and creating opportunities for vulnerable people.
Today I’m delighted to be talking with Daisy, the co-founder of What Daisy Did.
Please tell us about your business.
At What Daisy Did we design stylish and timeless bags and accessories that are then made by both tailors in small communities in India and in our hometown of Northampton. We utilise waste materials from various industries and hope to educate people that ethical fashion can be fashionable and affordable.
Where did the inspiration for What Daisy Did come from?
The tailors in India are skilled leather shoe makers that lost their jobs when the trade moved to China, they were already employed by our manager over there making items such as pocket belts from old leather jackets. India is a very resourceful place and for the whole 3 months we were there we were constantly inspired by their attitude towards upcycling and waste. We decided to design our own collection to sell to friends and family and never expected it to grow as much as it has!
How did you make your business connections in India and how do you ensure people are paid fairly and experience good working conditions?
We made these connections whilst travelling in India, all our tailors work flexible hours from home, our manager over there makes sure they are paid a living wage. We normally go over once a year as well to check that everything is running smoothly and all the criteria are being upheld.
What advice can you give to other businesses to help them support homeless employees here in the UK?
It can be hard work employing previously homeless and vulnerable people, they may have been out of work for a long time and not be used to the work environment, there might be underlying problems that can affect their work. But everybody deserves another chance and employing through the Northampton Hope Centre we were able to utilise their support network and work together to give someone this opportunity, it is very rewarding!
How did you decide upon the name of your business?
The name started as my blog whilst we were travelling and then morphed into the business, it’s really about following our journey from travelling to running a business.
What did you do before starting What Daisy Did?
We previously worked doing event sustainability at festivals, working 15 festivals a year and seeing the amount of waste left at them all really opened our eyes to the disposability of the modern lifestyle and is what inspired us to travel and escape it for a bit!
Did you always plan to be self-employed?
No! When What Daisy Did first started we were also working normal call centre jobs and it is only when the business grew that we were both able to do it full time and become self employed.
What has been the biggest challenge in running your business so far?
Neither of us have any formal business training so it has been very much learning on the job as we go and that has been probably one of the biggest challenges as it is ongoing, we are still learning now!
What has been the highlight of your business journey to date?
The response from people is probably one of the highlights, from both other businesses and customers everyone is so encouraging and enthusiastic about our business and what we are trying to do.
What role does social media play for your business and do you have a favourite social media platform?
Social Media plays a big role in gaining exposure, as a small business you tend to not have a very large marketing budget so tv and magazine ads are out of the question. Social media, Twitter especially is very good at reaching a large and wide spread audience without having to spend a lot of money. It is really good for engaging with your customers as well and having a personal presence that people can relate to rather than being a faceless business.
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
Make sure you are passionate about what you are doing, unless you love what you do you won’t have the motivation to make it work when the going gets tough!
Where do you hope to take your business in the year ahead?
Our latest limited edition collection of leather tote bags from Northampton factory wasted materials has just launched on the website so we are hoping to work some more on locally sourced collections and have some more ideas in the pipeline for utilising waste materials.
Thank you so much to Daisy for taking the time to be a part of Behind the Biz. I loved finding out about What Daisy Did, their beautiful products and the strong ethics behind the business. I particularly enjoyed hearing about how they partnered up with Northampton Hope Centre to help create jobs for homeless and vulnerable people. I think supporting ethical and sustainable businesses where possible is very important and I hope you’ve all enjoyed this interview as much I have. I can’t wait to see What Daisy Did continue to grow.