Over the last few weeks we conducted a series of case studies with clients who bring ethical, localised manufacturing to the forefront of their businesses. This week we speak to James from Will Bees Bespoke about the company’s dedication to manufacturing high quality products by hand and in small quantities. The company was founded by Will Bees in 2014, opening a combined workshop and retail space in Salcombe, where he grew up.
Could you tell me a bit about Will Bees Bespoke and how the idea for the business came about?
It’s myself and Will Bees – the business was his idea. He has always been in design and previously had a clothing business with about fourteen shops, and he was looking for a new project. He thought there was opportunity for a hand-made, British hand-bag business – bags and accessories. But also with the twist being that it’s all personalised- so every bag, every accessory you buy from us, we will personalise right there and then, you don’t have to wait. We put personalisation to the front of our brand, that combined with everything being hand-made in England, it’s as simple as that.
On your website it says that Will Bees Bespoke is the “antithesis of mass production.” Why is it so important for the products to be hand-made and British?
So that’s the exact reason, just going back to basics. Previously, you would source everything globally and mass-produce it, and this was just bringing it back to simplicity; we get it made here, smaller quantities, sell what we make. As we go through the seasons, we can react very quickly to the different colour weights, fabrics, patterns, styles that are needed, because we control all aspects of manufacturing. There’s two sides to it- one is the fact that it’s ethical, and secondly is that commercially it just makes sense, and manufacturing in the UK is something that a lot of people don’t think exists, but actually it does, and I think it’s getting stronger and stronger.
Does this allow for reduced waste production?
Absolutely. We literally manufacture to demand, and because we’re small and don’t have lots of shops – we just have the one shop – and our website and events. We pretty much make everything on a month by month basis. Our wastage is minimal.
Could you speak about the craftsmanship that goes into making your products?
Every bag is hand-made, and involves leather and fabric. We have a team of seamstresses. For example, we have a seamstress who works in our shop, and as you walk past the shop you can see her working. She’s been a seamstress all of her life, and we were very lucky to find her a couple of years ago where she joined us full time. Throughout the day she will be making various different styles. It’s hands, it’s sewing machines, and scissors- those are the tools that are used.
Do you have any plans in terms of your business?
We’re lucky because we do something very different, and this means we’re able to get into the prestigious events that normally take a long time to get into. For example Chelsea Flower Show, Burghley Horse Trials, Cheltenham Gold Cup. We now pretty much get asked to go to events, because we’re doing something very unique. So, we’re doing the prestigious events because it makes sense and we’re very busy, but also it drives brand awareness, and that leads back to our website. So for us, it has a lot to do with maintaining a tight business- and it’s about website growth and we are mainly marketing and winning new customers by going out to events around the country.
Your Experience With Stitched Boxes
What’s your favourite thing about Stitchedboxes?
You guys, you’re so helpful. We’re always in a hurry and late in ordering, and you help us out. It’s very much appreciated. What goes without saying is the quality and the look. Packaging – it’s the first thing a customer sees. As much time as we spend making our stands, or our shops or ourselves look good for the customer, packaging is as important because when you open your delivery or gift, that’s the first thing you’re going to see. It’s crucial that that is right. That’s what you guys do for us.
Would you recommend us to other businesses?
Yes I would!