With new business rates coming into effect in April 2017, many startups, SMEs and independent businesses are facing difficult decisions about their future.
The latest in a string of threatened closures is Verde, Jeanette Winterson’s deli in Spitalfields. A massive blow and a place our team is truly going to miss.
Verde, a place where we had coffee and wrote one of our first blog posts in 2013 – the start of the Blue Patch journey so to speak.
Areas such as Regent Street in central London face an 87% increase. For British brands this could be another blow to future success as large stores may favour cheaper, mass produced products.
Will this reduce opportunities for small businesses to have a presence in flagship London stores and high streets? We shall see!
It’s high time to explore cooperative and creative ways to work together. Adapting the sharing economy to our advantage and encourage consumers and brands to get together and create a renaissance in local shopping where quality really shines out.
Now is the perfect time for vibrant online and offline collaborative business communities that support and encourage each other rather than compete for the same space. This is what we’re aiming to achieve here at Blue Patch. Our membership based community of brands, big and small, want to change the way they do business and the way consumers purchase products and services.
Jane Langley, our founder explains, “One of the biggest hurdles for new ethical businesses is the lack of capacity or finances to be visible to consumers. We are working on an open, sharing and collective community where businesses can showcase their products not only online, but also offline at our events and our new Blue Patch Partnership initiative – the first of which will be in Marylebone, London.”
This first Blue Patch Partnership in the aptly named ‘The Collaborative Store’ is run by Elena Todary.
As the name suggests, The Collaborative Store concept revolves around collaboration and partnership; Todary said “We work together with all our creators and designers when making selections for the store as well as running and organising themed workshops.” The Collaborative Store’s main focus is “on delivering and sourcing beautiful, independent, established, rising and niche designers and artists.”
Our members will be able to pitch for Blue Patch Partnership opportunities to showcase and sell in shops and pop-up spaces in high footfall environments. Partners are hand picked by Blue Patch to ensure our ethical brand values are in harmony. This light touch approach will enable members to reach shoppers without spending a fortune on new business rates. And shoppers can easily access some of our most outstanding and ethical brands.
It’s all about encouraging and supporting businesses to become more fluid – rootless even – in the way they work – a response to the exponential cost of property which threatens the livelihoods of small businesses across the British Isles.
One of our members who will be joining us for the first Blue Patch Partnership in March, Michael Armstrong from Afid Design, explains that “It’s great to be able to participate in the Blue Patch Partnership with The Collaborative Store. This gives me the chance, coming from the North, for my work to be seen in a new geographical location and by a different audience that is focused around design and sustainability.”
Some of the first brands to be hit by this new change will be the smaller, high end British brands who may be replaced by cheaper alternatives. Finding different routes to market will be key in keeping our British Made brands alive.
Lancashire-based Lisa Watson makes high quality heirloom quilts woven from natural fibres. She mentions that “the irony of selling high end British products lies in the fact that people come from overseas to purchase them and yet it’s difficult to showcase the same products to the UK consumer.”
Another Blue Patch member, Valerie Goode of fashion label Kitty Ferreira, talks about the difficulties of taking her brand to market. “There is an unreasonable amount of pressure on small brands who are creating products and trying to market them. Then on top of that retailers are now asking us for money upfront to have a simple presence in their premises.”
She goes on to mention the bigger retailers and how they create a barrier for SME’s by taking huge commissions and not offering up as many opportunities to these small sustainable brands. “This is where small brands need to work together in a collaborative manner, in a way that benefits both brand and retailer. ”
We’d love you to sign up to our newsletter so we can introduce you to our amazing Blue Patch members and invite you to our events!
Please contact Blue Patch Team for more information on Membership.