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Case Study: Freeload Accessories

8th April 2019

Categories: Latest News

Business Profile

Freeload Accessories design and handcraft fashion-led leather bags and accessories in their retail workshop situated in the picturesque surroundings of Cockington Court, Torquay. They use the highest quality Italian leathers and chunky brass saddlery fittings for their unique products.

Industry

Fashion

Geography

Workshop and studio in South Devon with online store

TDA Business Support:

  • Business diagnostic to understand business development and growth opportunities
  • Business planning and marketing strategy support
  • Affordable workspace in Torbay

Freeload Accessories is run by designer and maker Debbie MacPherson. As well as the ‘ready to wear’ range, Debbie offers a bespoke service where customers are able to have a hand in creating their very own unique item. All Freeload bags, wash bags and tablet cases can also be personalised.

The Challenge

Debbie began her career as an apprentice hand making leather shoes in Cornwall, before moving to London to study. Debbie completed an accessories design degree at the prestigious Cordwainers College, where she was able to vastly extend her making skills and explore the concept of fashion and design.

Freeload Accessories was established in 2006 and Debbie had been selling exclusively online. In 2012, Debbie wanted to find an environment to start selling directly to customers and advance the bespoke element of her business. Debbie wanted a studio that would help her focus on her aims; quality is paramount, a belief in ‘Slow Fashion’ and her hand crafted bags becoming a trusty old friend to her customers.

The Solution

TDA has helped support Freeload Accessories by providing a great working environment at Cockington Court Craft Centre, surrounded by fellow crafts people, at a very affordable rate. The Court hold community events such as Apple day which is great for attracting visitors to the craft studios.

Freeload Accessories have received business mentoring from Kim Thornton which has been a great help in focusing on moving my business forward.

Debbie said: “The TDA’s support of small creative businesses is fantastic. By providing affordable studios at Cockington Court, designated only to crafts people, they are providing us with a great environment in which to grow. Most of us would not be able to afford premises on the high street, nor would it necessarily be a suitable environment so this support is invaluable in allowing us to connect with both the local community and those on holiday in the area.”

Debbie has signed up to the ERDF Growth Support Programme and her support is ongoing. In the initial meeting she completed a Business Diagnostic which mapped out how TDA could support the business to grow. As part of the programme she has also received Digital Support on her business where she benefitted from a website review.

Kim Thornton, TDA Business Advisor, said: “Freeload Accessories is a brilliant business and this is down to Debbie. Her skills and desire to create quality, handmade products are reflected in everything she does. Debbie now has the tools to continue to grow her business and achieve her goals. We look forward to continuing to work with her through the ERDF Growth Support Programme.”

Results

Since locating to Cockington, Debbie has found that her workshop sales have increased steadily every year. As well as passing trade, Freeload Accessories has gained many loyal local customers who have repeat ordered a number of times.  This past year has seen workshop sales exceeding online sales for the first time. Last year, the company launched a range of dog accessories, which have proved to be a great success, further increasing sales.

Debbie added: “I recently invested in a hot foil press so I’m now able to personalise a range of items with names, initials or a short message with gold or silver foil or de-bossed. The press has also inspired me to create a new range of personalised items aimed at both individuals and businesses such as personalised leather napkin rings that can also double as a place setting at weddings or events.

“As well as continuing to develop my offer at Cockington Court, I am planning to participate in a few select local craft shows during the year to promote my business throughout the South West and also spread the word about Cockington Court; I will be exhibiting in the West Country Crafts tent at the Devon County Show this May.”

To find out more about Freeload Accessories visit www.freeloadaccessories.com

To see how the ERDF Growth Support programme can help your business visit www.tda-business.com/grow

Debbie making a handmade leather bag in her studio at Cockington Court, Devon.

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