One of the things I have enjoyed most about starting a blog is discovering and meeting so many independent shopkeepers and makers. I love being able to introduce them to you as I know finding the time to source great products either for your own homes or for gifts can be very difficult for some.
Today, I would like to introduce you to Made to Last, set up and run by Joel who has kindly taken the time to answer a few of my questions about his online shop. I’ve also picked my own favourite products from the shop for you to take a look at. Over to Joel…
1. Can you tell us a little about yourself and why you set up Made to Last?
I have been interested in the environment and the impact that we have on it for a long time. A particular incident that I always remember is travelling on a boat up the Amazon river where the boat owners used to just empty the bins over the side of the boat.
As well as that I have always been a cheapskate and struggled with value for money (I was on the cheapest boat available going up the Amazon). I love a bargain and have had my fingers burnt far too often as a consequence. A few years ago I made a decision to focus on value for money and buy quality products that will stand the test of time.
Additionally I have a background in marketing for retail online so wanted to marry these personal interests with my professional skill set. Made to Last is the result.
2. What makes Made to Last different to other shops?
Our focus on value for money is the key differentiator. All of our products show a clear price and a guarantee length from the manufacturer. By comparing the price with the guarantee length our customers can get a rough idea on value for money.
It is a new concept and some suppliers although selling amazing products on Made to Last are unable to give warranties to the length that they really know that their products will last. But they are slowly coming round to the idea and in a few years I think that the idea will really hit home as it helps both customers in terms of trust and also suppliers in terms of pushing them to make the best products – when they do they sell more.
As well as that we only sell products manufactured in the British Isles (including Ireland). This means that there are less taxes, less transport costs, staff in our suppliers companies are paid fairly and treated well. So through buying from Made to Last you can be confident that everyone is getting a good deal out of your purchase.
3. Why do you feel so strongly about British made goods?
The 3 reasons are:
1) Lower environmental impact through shorter distances between manufacturer and end user – we do not store the products – they go direct form the maker to the user.
2) Everyone in the supply chain being treated fairly.
3) I want to support manufacturing as I think that when people do jobs that involve actually creating something that another person benefits from, it makes them feel worthwhile. It is a shame that British manufacturing declined for many years – hopefully it’s revival will continue indefinitely.
4. How do you choose which products to stock in your shop?
We come across new makers and products in a number of ways, some through recommendations from our customers, in many cases the suppliers contact us and in other cases we research online for new suppliers and contact them ourselves. We then discuss with them which of their products will be a good fit for Made to Last and go from there.
5. Are you ever tempted to keep any of your products for yourself?
6. Where would you like to take Made to Last in the future?
A dangerously big question – I will try to keep it short….
Over the next few years we would like to develop the product ranges further, especially in furniture and as well as that develop the website and in particular the ease of customers finding the most suitable products for them quickly. This becomes an issue as we add more products. Long term, we would also like to open a showroom where people can come and see our products and try them for themselves. Finally – I am keen to do something about increasing reuse and recycling. I think that people are too quick to buy again rather than think about repairing. This will mean a lot of discussion and work with our suppliers in some cases but many of them already offer this kind of service – we just do not shout about it at the moment.
Thank you so much to Joel for giving us an insight into setting up and running an online store. I’ll take the whole Netherton Foundry range, please!
*This post was written in collaboration with Made to Last