Hello wonderful people and welcome back to your favourite chat show - #gossipstation of course! Joining us for a chinwag is one of our fabulous clients Rachael Laine who is the founder of Craftymothers Ltd. Just to bring you up to speed…Craftymothers Ltd are the wonderful distributors of Salt-Water sandals for Europe and Asia and most newly for Plae shoes UK.
So, now we have the little intro out of the way let’s get to it! Rachael thank you so much for joining us on #gossipstation it’s fab having you! Let’s start off by you telling us about yourself and your background…
Hello everyone! I am the youngest of 2 sisters and we fought all the time growing up. This I think gave me my independent and tenacious streak and inability to ignore any opportunity to turn a situation into an adventure or an escape! I grew up in Hong Kong with time spent at boarding school in the UK which added to my belief that I could do anything and that anything is possible. Travelling on a plane to the UK on my own from the age 12 and negotiating the tube with a suitcase heavier than myself seems mad now I am a Mum to 2 kids, but both my parents expected me to just “get on with it” - so I did! I loved my mixed boarding school but it wasn’t all “jolly hockysticks” and league tables. I spent a lot of time in the theatre and Art block but also enjoyed academic life. I am a statistical maths nerd which helps enormously when crunching the numbers.
Picture above: Hong Kong Chinese Meal Aberdeen in December 1978
That’s incredible – talk about the power within! What did growing up in a different culture teach you?
Growing up in HK immersed in an entirely different culture, taught me that cultural difference can be inspiring - that there isn’t always just the one way to do things. I ate with chopsticks as well as cutlery; I went carol singing but also lit incense at the temple with my childminder. Hong Kong is an International cultural melting pot: I had friends from all over the world - Korea, Japan, Australia, India, Holland, Latvia etc and at every playdate I got to eat all kinds of foods, listen to all kinds of languages and be welcomed into their traditions. That foundation has certainly helped my business outlook when selling in different markets.
Picture above: Rachael running through Chinese Village, Lantau in Hong Kong
Just WOW – we think we need to catch the next international flight! Hong Kong is on the wish list for sure as so many people we speak to just say how amazing it is! AND what about now? Where have you set up camp?
Now I live in North London with my kids and husband. We try to make use of all the best bits that a capital city can offer - eating all kinds of different food: dim sum in Chinatown, Turkish on green lanes, fish n chips on a Friday! I like to visit the galleries and parks or just walk to the top of ally pally and look at the cityscape. Every now and then I fantasise about moving to another country to show my kids a different way of life. My husband and I have talked about Sweden, Canada, San Francisco (even Hong Kong again) Maybe one day?!
Pictures above: Rachael and her family on her wedding day
We don’t blame you! There are some incredible places out there and it’s hard not to get rid of the travel bug! What made you decide to set up your own company?
After I had kids I needed to re-evaluate. I had been working at Director Level for several years, and it often required very long hours as deadlines approached. If I was going to spend hours working at that level to deliver a big project then that time away from family had to be ultimately to benefit them and not someone else. I set very clear goals for myself and decided to set up my brand consultancy when on maternity leave with my 2nd child. That company then morphed into a fashion distribution company after the first brand I approached offered me the opportunity to head up Europe.
Pictures above: Rachael with her son Charlie and her daughter Harper below
We love the fact that you took the ‘leap’ as we like to call it! Why the name Craftymothers?
I was a mother with a cunning plan and the two just fitted together! When I set up the company I wanted to focus on family lifestyle brands that had added value and not stuff that just created more clutter. I wanted to offer something a bit clever, not an object to solely admire or be in on a trend. Craftymothers kind of encapsulates that ethos.
It’s the perfect name! Talk to us about the business…
For now it seems all we do is sell shoes! We sell amazing heritage sandals and phenomenal trainers for kids.
But of course it is so much more than that - We build these unknown brands to become a relevant and necessary part of their category and that takes a lot of creative planning. We carefully reposition the brands; shoot imagery that is culturally sensitive, evaluate and plan the pricing and communicate both on a B2B level but also direct to the end user.
We are looking to grow the portfolio away from solely footwear (pardon the pun!). We want to be able to offer agency as well as distribution and pure brand consultancy as well.
Woooo exciting times ahead! So, who are your clients?
Picture above: A gorgeous selection of both Salt-Water and Sun-San Sandals
For now we work as the European and East Asian distributors for Salt-Water sandals. Asia is just starting up and we are focussing more on mainland Europe from 2016. The growth and popularity of this humble sandal totally took on a life of its own and we just hit our 2017 targets, a full 2 years early.
That’s incredible! Congratulations team Craftymothers! Sorry carry on…
Thank you so much! We are launching Plae to the UK market for SS16 after a soft launch this year. The brand has seen phenomenal growth since it launched 2 years ago in the USA and we fully expect it to fill that white space! Plae is a trainer that is both extremely functional as well as great to look at.
Picture above: Gold max high top trainer
They’ve had such a fab response so far so we are very excited for the near future! What do you look for in a client before taking them on? Do you have a checklist?
The magic (triptych) checklist involves:
1) A functional product that works
2) A great story with authenticity behind it
3) A Unique quality
All our brands will have to adhere to these 3 elements or my passion won’t ignite.
It can be a great product with uniqueness but if there isn’t a story to tell, it won’t interest anyone. I hate it when marketeers make up stories just to sell a product. It loses any authenticity.
It can be a great product with an interesting back story but if isn’t unique then it’s just fighting for space in a crowded market and that’s a hard place to maintain momentum.
We completely agree! We LOVE it when someone has an interesting story that grabs our attention! As you say – otherwise the passion is just not there! For someone who is not familiar with SW or Plae what would you say to them to sell them on the products? Why should they invest?
Picture above: New cherry print style coming soon for SS16
There is no other sandal on the market that offers straight forward flat comfort, a beautiful stripped back aesthetic plus the fact that you can even get them wet!
Picture above: Exclusive candy mash-ups
They haven’t changed their design in over 70 years and that taps into the nostalgic zeitgeist. They have been and will become a staple part of many summer wardrobes. They are made in a huge variety of colours and styles for any kind of child or woman. Salt-Water are a timeless heritage brand that will go on and on and are here to stay.
Picture above: Original navy Salt-Water Sandals
We completely agree and they are HUGELY popular with press! AND what about Plae?
Picture above: Customising Plae shoes with interchangable tabs
Plae trainers are designed to easily fit and accommodate active growing feet. They use the same design technology that is used to create shoes for elite athletes like Usain Bolt plus they aren’t boring - you can style them up with your own choice of interchangeable straps. They are light not clunky, fun and funky! They are made from recycled materials, machine washable, fair trade and can even fit an orthotic brace. What’s not to love?
Picture above: Navy Ty
Too right – what’s not to love? Different day a different style! Do you think you'll branch in to other areas other than footwear?
Yes! I’m always looking for new brands that need “discovering”.
I love watching people find out about these cool brands that were an unknown only a week before launch. I’ve been speaking to Furniture companies, Clothing, Bedlinen and even confectionary! If I’m clever about it all my brands will compliment each other and have a similar audience.
You’re a busy lady! What's the best advice anyone has ever told you?
I think Mick Jagger was pretty spot on when he sang “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need”
There’s definitely a difference between wants and needs. It took me a while to learn that.
Those are wise words! Thank you Mick Jagger! What's coming up for Craftymothers in 2016?
Launching Plae to the UK, Opening up Salt-Water to Asia, Announcing some amazing collaborations with other like-minded brands and maybe adding a few other brands to the portfolio mix!
All we can say is that we are so ready for this year! AND last but not least…tell us the craziest thing you've ever done…
If having kids doesn’t count then please pick from the following:
Bungee jumping naked at midnight in the middle of a rainforest during a power cut
Trying to set up camp in a desert during a sandstorm. We ended up sleeping tent less
Performing as a breakdancing Nun in a Ministry Of Sound advert
Talking to Anna Wintour on the telephone but not believing it was her, I laughed & hung up (she called back)
HAHA they are ALL brilliant! We love them all so we will leave it up to our #gossipstation readers to choose! Are you a safe driver or do you like to live on the edge?
I think you know the answer to that!
My husband hates me driving when we go on holiday abroad. Not only is it on the other side but I drive really fast and I play music really REALLY loud with the windows down.
Picture above: Part 1 and 2 of Rachael and Dave's wedding invite inspired by photographer Hanna Pesut
Ummmm when can we hitch a lift? Rachael it has been FAB having you on the show! We have loved having a goss and finding out more about your exciting adventures to date. ALL we can say is bring on the rest!
Join us next time for lots of goss and chinwagging! Big hugs and kisses beautiful people <3 Alegre Ladies xox