Birmingham Independents We Like – Weaving Hope

Posted by: on Aug 20, 2012 | No Comments

At Creative Shift we feel that it is important to champion the talented people and inspiring businesses that we meet along the way.

In the first of what we hope will become a regular feature, we’d like to introduce you to one of those businesses, Weaving Hope, a midlands based company that produces beautiful fair trade gifts.  Nicky Hope, was kind enough to answer a few questions for us.

What were you doing before you started Weaving Hope, and what inspired you to start it?

Weaving Hope was born out of a family sabbatical, when we took 5 months off and took our children to Sri Lanka.  I was working as a Strategy Manager for a local building society, while Joe was a teacher at The Earls High School.   We volunteered out there, while the boys attended a local school.  While there we were captivated by some of the beautiful hand made cotton goods that we saw, and got talking to the lady who had founded the Fair Trade company that produced them.  She invited us to visit the factory where some of the goods are produced.  Having done so we were so inspired by the quality of work they produce and the importance of employing women locally to support families and communities in rural Sri Lanka to see what we could do to support them. After our travels I was very reluctant to return to the corporate world and was really keen to find something more meaningful and I suppose more creative.

What are the aims/ethos of the Weaving Hope?

 First and foremost Weaving Hope aim to provide the very best quality children’s gifts.  We want people to buy our things because of how utterly gorgeous they are.  Our other aims are to encourage people to think about making ethical purchases, and to share the importance of this.  We as consumers all have the power to demand ethical practises, we can make active choices every time we spend money, not only about whether or not we want something, but also about whether we are happy about where our money goes.  There are various aspects of ethics that come in here, but you tend to find that companies who are ethical in one way, consider most areas.  We continually think not only about the Fair Trade goods we sell, but also our environmental impact.

What do you think is the best thing about being an independent business in Birmingham at the moment?

 Birmingham is a city at the heart of a region that is undergoing major changes.  Our historical strengths in industry and manufacture are fading and we midlanders are in a real state of flux.  This means that there are hardships and challenges, but also opportunities and a real sense of teamwork as local people come together to meet those challenges.  These are exciting times to be involved in business in and around Birmingham. I am discovering a real network and community of ethical and creative business and that is a real boost when times get tough!

What are the challenges you have faced?

The biggest challenge has been cash flow and finding capital as the business grows.  This is something that seems to be common factor in all new businesses.  Another major challenge is gaining publicity, we have products that we are extremely proud of, but it is not always easy to get them into the public conscious.  The final one is in talking to big businesses.  We are keen to pursue a relationship with one or more major retailers, but even getting to speak to the right people can sometimes be a real struggle.  Some will only speak to you once you are already a supplier!

What advice would you give to others if they decided to ‘go indie’?

Setting up your own business is a huge but rewarding challenge.  You cannot underestimate how much work is involved, and it is not the big stuff, but the little nitty gritty details – what envelopes to use, how to set up the printer, which carrier to use etc. – that really drains your time.  You have to prioritise really well – balancing what needs doing to keep going now with the strategic work needed to grow and move forward.  A support network of other people going through similar things is a real help to maintaining some level of sanity. I think the single most important thing for anyone setting up on their own would be to be absolutely clear why you are doing it and try not to lose sight of that.

What is your favourite thing that Weaving Hope produces at the moment?

The real jewel in the Weaving Hope crown is our cooking set.  A complete groceries, pans and hob set. Bright and light, soft and quiet, folds away at the end of play. Excellent value with so many pieces and a truly stunning gift for any aspiring masterchefs.  Eco friendly, space saving and so much fun, this is what we most wish we had when our own children were little!  

Anything else we need to know?

We are pretty much focused on Christmas now (ridiculous I know) getting new products photographed etc. Once that is out of the way we will be planning for International Women’s Day and will be on the look out for volunteers for our Dragon Boat Race – so be prepared!!


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