Saturday, 15 February 2014

Brit-on, Brit-off?

Well after many ramblings with other makers, manufacturers and buyers I'm none the wiser. All Tobyboo products are made in the UK and I think I go on about it enough but what customers aren't aware of is that some products are 'finished' in the UK for example a china mug could be imported but be decorated here, or textile items could just have final touches put on. All fine if the customer knows and can weigh up the cost because with most items it will be more expensive if it's made  fully over here.

But, does it matter to the customer anymore? Do people really care about the origins or just want the cheapest option? I went up to see my potters in Stoke with Caroline from the marvellous Design Mould who also uses UK made pieces and neither of us can compete price wise with imported/UK decorated products. I can only jabber what I think which is I grew up with British made good around me and took it for granted I'd visualise factories (mainly 'up norf'). When the news that Kinky Knickers went into administration my heart sank - the idea of factories reopening and jobs being created for skilled persons over here was suddenly a dream again. I started using companies in this country not only because I felt it important to support local trade but practically it was easier - to go and see where they're made and meet directly who's working with you; then the carrot is dangled because they could get imported pieces and in an almost secret way you could convince yourself it was all done here for a fraction of the price. I didn't go for the carrot - to see places that had thriving industries broken made me want to support local trade even more.... I'm rambling again - the point is - does the consumer care? 

When you pick up a piece and you see UK or Britain somewhere on the tag does it influence buying and if so do you read it fully? I was at the V&A shop yesterday and found myself reading every blinkin' tag. I think even if 99% said they didn't care where it was made it wouldn't affect my decision, I'd still opt for UK made - but would effect sales. UK made products pretty much will always be more expensive but 9 times out of 10 better I salute brands like Cabbages and Roses I treasure pieces from them, and it's a lovely guilt-free feeling wearing something you know wasn't made in a sweatshop! Maybe it's just me that can't touch Primark out of principle - I tried it once - peer pressure n all "go on, there's some good stuff in there imagine the savings" well it ended up in the charity shop. And trust me money is an issue - I don't have it, my brain thinks I do so yes I should think cheaper but there's always a but.....? 

So, does anyone really care? anyone? The effort Mary Portas & co put into driving enthusiasm back into localism only to have it thrown back in her face was hideous. We're a strange patriotic (but only when we feel like it) kinda country - if anyone's read the Lorax.... the Once-ler springs to mind.