I love discovering new brands and having the opportunity to shed a little light on them with Behind the Biz. Today I’m chatting with Jill Henry, the co-founder of Meander. They create stylish but technical and functional outerwear with the finest Italian fabrics.
Meander are currently working hard on their Indiegogo campaign and have some fantastic perks. If you enjoy the interview and want to support the business do pop over and check that out.
How did you decide upon the name of your business?
At Meander we’re creating a unisex brand for urban cyclists and outdoor lovers that has style and function in equal measure. We’re inspired by Scandinavian design and sustainability is one of our core brand values. The clothing we create has all the performance qualities that you need for commuting, in any condition, whilst also looking good. We’re as much about the journey as the end destination. For me the name Meander Apparel represents the great outdoors and the journey.
What did you do before starting Meander?
I studied Fashion Design at Heriot Watt university in Scotland and then moved to London following graduation where I worked for various influential menswear brands and luxury designers, including The Duffer of St George, French Connection and House of Holland.
Did you always plan to be self-employed?
Yes, it’s been a passion of mine for a long time to start my own label. I love hearing of other people that start something from scratch and build a great brand or company. It’s something I’ve been keen to do for a long time and it was a case of now being the right time and the right idea to turn into a reality.
The idea for Meander came to us in preparation for a cycle trip that Steve (husband and co-founder) and I organised from London to Paris. We were unimpressed with the clothing offer and felt limited by choices of lycra and bright neon which sparked the idea. When we realised we weren’t alone with the problem, we decided it was the right time to bring our idea to life.
What has been the highlight of your business journey to date?
We just launched the brand on Indiegogo which is a massive highlight. After nearly two years in research and development it’s really exciting to launch the brand and a lead product – the Meander Jacket – that we truly believe in.
The crowdfunding campaign allows our backers to support our brand and buy into the jacket at a big reduction on the future RRP.
We’re only at the start of the crowdfunding campaign and already nearly 40% funded. We’re building a global audience as we have customers from all over Europe and the US backing us. We’re looking forward to building on this community and expanding the range to cater for commuter cyclist and urban adventurers.
What has been one of the biggest challenges you have faced?
As I have a background in fashion design for me the product is the easy part but it’s been a steep learning curve on marketing, social media and advertising. You can design the most beautiful product but if no-one knows about it then they’re not going to buy it from you. Whilst we outsource a lot of that work it’s important to understand it all so that you can stay on top of what’s working and what you need to change. I’d say digital marketing has been the biggest challenge so far.
What role does social media play for your business and do you have a favourite social platform?
Instagram is very powerful for our brand. We already have a strong following and some really loyal followers on Instagram. I’ve also met some fantastic people through social media such as our photographer Tommy Cairns and @ScotStreetStyle who is a social media influencer and has helped to shine the spot light on Meander.
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
Trust your instincts and follow your passion. It sounds cliché but it’s true. It helps that cycling and the outdoors in a shared passion of both mine and Steve’s. We both have a shared input on most of the big decisions and everything from design and material choices to advertising campaigns. You end up spending all your time setting up a business so it needs to be something you’re really passionate about.
I also like to read books from writers and entrepreneurs that inspire me and surround myself with inspiring people. I attend entrepreneur meet ups and events to meet with like minded people and listen to other entrepreneurs journeys.
Where do you hope to take your business in 2018?
After crowdfunding we have plans to develop a full E Commerce website and launch a full collection of functional and stylish garments for urban cyclists and adventurers.
I want to say a big thank you to Jill for taking the time to be a part of Behind the Biz. I’m so pleased to share the exciting story and journey of Meander Apparel with you. I know many of you are aspiring entrepreneurs and as Jill says, it’s important to trust your instincts, follow your passion and start networking.
I can’t wait to see Meander Apparel grow and I wish them the best of luck with their Indiegogo campaign.