From Studio to Wholesale: the Journey of a Sustainable Textile Brand with Helen Round (episode 439)

Helen Round, a passionate sustainable textile designer and print maker, joins the show to discuss her journey in building her business from a small studio to a team of 9, selling her products online. Helen shares her approach to sustainability and how it informs her designs, as well as her experiences in navigating the challenges of running a successful eCommerce store.

Helen Round Helen Round on eCommerce MasterPlan Podcast

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Helen’s eCommerce Journey

Helen has always loved fine art textiles. In 2012, after 20 years of teaching, she decided to find a way to create products that showcased her love for fabrics and printmaking.

She calls it a kitchen table business that supplies shops, sells direct online, and also works with online retailers.

About the Business

  • Based in Cornwall, UK
  • Sells and ships worldwide

Helen shares that she has always wanted to create a product with a fabric that she loved. They used linen in the beginning because it’s a fabric that requires no pesticide to grow, no extra water, and the whole plant is used. Over the last few years, they’ve also introduced bamboo fibers.

Although Helen started out by making an apron, the business has now expanded to a wide range of products. The expansion came from Helen noticing the offcuts of their products and, working with her team, thinking of creating an actual product from these smaller fabric pieces.

What they’re trying to do is help people live more sustainably, and by using waste materials, they’re offering eco-friendly alternatives to single-use products.

Balancing Online and Offline Activities

Social media and a good Shopify site have helped Helen’s business by bringing in customers and retailers who want to stock their products.

However, she does enjoy doing trade shows every now and then because of the face-to-face contact. For her, being able to talk and listen to potential customers and stockists has its benefits that you don’t get from online channels.

On Their B Corp Journey

Helen says their team is currently on its B Corp journey, and what was significant for them was going through the B Impact Assessment.

The positive result that came out of doing the assessment was identifying key points they needed to work on and operating better as a team to improve the business.

eCommerce Book Top Tip

eCommerce Traffic Top Tip

  • Helen goes back to the old-fashioned telephone because it’s an important key to connecting with customers.

Tool Top Tip

  • Asana work management platform
  • A Kanban system, which is an inventory control system used in just-in-time (JIT) manufacturing to track production

Carbon Top Tip

  • Helen says their studio has become a drop-off point for cardboard boxes, packing beads, and bubble wrap. They let their community know what the business needs specifically, and because of the great response, they’ve cut their spending in half by using recycled packaging.

Interview Links

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Related episodes

  • Reusing 5.5 million Plastic Drink Bottles with Hayley Clarke, co-owner and MD at Onya (episode 431)
  • Embarking on Sustainability and Reaping Rewards with Mirry Christie, Sustainability Consultant for OKA (episode 426)
  • Taking a Sustainable Products brand to 2million+ customers with Jennie Perry from Grove Collaborative (episode 377)

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