Why “Made in Britain” matters to our family business
There’s a lot of buzz around products that are made in Britain, but why is buying British so important? In today’s blog, we have an interview with The British Blanket Company’s co-founders (and siblings) Bethan and Joe. Read on to find out why they decided to launch a brand selling only British-made products, why UK manufacture matters and the lessons they’ve learned during six years running a British heritage brand together.
Introduce yourselves and your role at The British Blanket Company
Bethan: I’m Bethan John, one of the co-founders of The British Blanket Company. I’ve done a bit of everything since we launched the company in 2015, but now I mainly focus on developing new blanket designs, writing marketing content, and making sure we look after our customers with wonderful service.
Joe: I’m Joe John, Bethan’s younger brother. My job is overseeing the strategy and direction of our business and managing the financial side. I also oversee the website, branding and take most of our product and social media photos.
Bethan: We get asked this a lot! It initially came from my passion for textiles, which developed working as an interior design journalist in London. Joe was working in e-commerce development and looking for a career change at around the same time, so we decided to join our skills and develop an e-commerce homeware brand. We choose British blankets because we wanted become real specialists in a single product, sell items with a great story behind them… and that didn’t break in the post!
Was it difficult to find UK blanket manufacturers?
Joe: Since the 1960s the British weaving industry has been in decline because of manufacturing moving abroad, so there are only a small number of woollen mills weaving blankets left in the British Isles. It was difficult to find them at first, but we now have strong partnerships with four different weaving mills: three in the UK and one in Ireland. It’s an important part of our mission to revitalise the traditional weaving industry and ensure traditional skills aren’t lost. Sadly, even since we launched in 2015, some of our competitors have moved their manufacturing overseas to China and India. But The British Blanket Company will only ever sell blankets made in Britain and Ireland, that’s a promise!
How do customers benefit when they buy products made in Britain?
Bethan: There are lots of great reasons to feel good about buying British. Here are a few of the main ones:
Buying British helps the economy. Every purchase of a British product or service supports local industries and helps protect and create jobs in UK.
Buying British is ethical. Buying UK-made items probably means the people who made them were treated more fairly than in factories in developing countries, where safety and employment standards are lower.
Buying British often means superior quality. Although British products often cost more, they usually last much longer and provide better value for money.
Buying British protects the environment. British food and products travel a shorter distance from the farm or manufacturer to the shop, so they have a lower carbon footprint than imported goods.
Buying British is more personal. Consumers have an opportunity to engage more deeply with the people and the stories behind locally-made products.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to sell products that are made in Britain?
Joe: Make sure you understand the importance of telling the story behind your products, whether that’s food, fashion or homeware. Products made in the UK will inevitably be more expensive than cheaper items made overseas, so you need to show and tell customers about the history and heritage behind the craft. If your customers understand why something British-made is better quality, they will be willing to invest that little bit more money in a something that lasts.
What’s next for The British Blanket Company?
Bethan: We have two new collections launching this year and we can’t wait! Our 2022 Special Edition collection will be released in February and is so beautiful. We partnered with a new weaving mill on the Yorkshire/Lancashire border and the quality of the merino wool blankets they have woven for us is amazing. The colours are so rich and soft! Then, in the autumn, we’ll have another collection launching in our pure wool range, which will be woven for us in Yorkshire. Sign up to The British Blanket Company newsletter to get early access.
This month, we’re sharing all sorts of exciting behind-the-scenes content on social media giving an insight behind the scenes of The British Blanket Company any showing you how our wool blankets are made. Make sure you’re following on Facebook, Instagram and our new Youtube channel to get the best content first!