What they learned on their journey, was that if they wanted to manufacture in the UK, it would be better if they continued to do the sampling and development stage in-house. They found that as a rule, the bigger manufacturers found it difficult to develop new designs, set up as they are for large quantity orders. Design and development, as SCP knows only too well, takes a lot of time and resources. Juliet explains:
“Manufacturers and commissioned weavers make the money on picks woven, the development stuff is not really in their interest, that is where they struggle, and actually for us that is the bit we want to do. So it made logical sense for us to do the industrial sampling in-house, and also by having that facility we can choose to do special projects, and we can choose to have things woven here if we need to for the integrity of the product for example. Essentially we can use our CAD system, our hand looms and industrial machines to prototype orders and do sampling, and then ship out the industrial manufacturing to the experts, that is what they want to do. They do it day in, day out, and we have already done the troubleshooting for them.”
Their fact finding mission also emboldened them to invest in their first industrial machine.
“The trip around the UK was an eye opener for us, we are a bunch of textile designers, it hadn’t occurred to us that we could operate industrial machinery, so this opened up our eyes to what those manufacturing environments were like. We saw that it would be totally possible, with the right training, for us to work with industrial machinery and to deal with it ourselves. So that was really encouraging as well.”
So with some more investment into both machinery and the building they occupy, Bristol Weaving Mill became a viable business, and Juliet and Franki found themselves at the centre of an emerging textile scene.
“When we moved here, there was no textile industry, well there was one print studio. Now there is quite a healthy, vibrant community of textile designers and weavers, and small companies setting up, dying and so on. There is a whole South West fibre scene.”