Nottingham's Campbell Cole are next up on Origins, a new monthly feature where I'm talking to fashion and design entrepreneurs to learn about the early days of their business.
Campbell Cole are a Nottingham-based duo creating high-quality leather accessories with understated beauty and brilliantly simple everyday use high on the agenda. Ian Campbell Cole and Felicity Baggett are the brains behind the operation, proudly making everything in England using responsibly sourced veg tanned leather in a range of eclectic colours.
I've been using a keywrap of theirs for a couple of years now and can slowly see myself buying the whole range, from the A5 pouch to the cardholder, as the easy style and uber practicality makes Campbell Cole hard to top.
Here's what Felicity had to say about the formative days and origins of Campbell Cole...
Can you tell me who you are and a little bit about Campbell Cole?
Ian Campbell Cole and Felicity Baggett, we are both designers and we run Campbell Cole. Inspired by our love of simple timeless design, we create understated accessories for men and women that are made in the UK.
Going right back to the start, how did you land on the idea of doing Campbell Cole?
Ian was working as a hardgoods designer for a global sportswear brand, gaining valuable experiences and travelling the world, but ultimately became frustrated with churning out high volume, low pricepoint throwaway product. He wanted to create something that had more integrity where the product was made closer to home.
Looking back to his final year uni project, for which he designed and made a plywood framed backpack for cycling, he spotted the potential to develop it further. Campbell Cole evolved from there.
What made you move beyond a good idea and turn it into a fully fledged 'thing'?
When we hit a brick wall trying to commercialise the plywood backpack due to massive tooling costs and we thought that was that. When someone tells you something can’t be done, it makes you want to make it happen even more.
Without realising it we had created a ‘thing’ in our minds very early on and knew the way to bring it to life was to re-design the product but continue to work with the values that we had laid out as important to us, like the quality of materials and make. We found some of the best leather goods makers in the country and went from there.
What was the toughest thing in the early days of getting things off the ground?
Giving up a salary. Both of us enjoy working hard but it’s tough missing out on things with your friends because you’ve chosen to start a business.
Finally, what's the best thing about doing Campbell Cole?
Escaping groundhog day… every day is different now.
Also, the satisfaction that comes from receiving an order from a repeat customer, it means they’ve enjoyed using one of our products enough that they want to try something else. Honestly, it’s a little thing but it’s a huge compliment.
Thanks to the guys at Campbell Cole for taking part in Origins. Be sure to take a peek at their brilliant collection and pick up some everyday accessories in Summer-ready colours.