Seekd - The journey of a female founder to date, Year One!
By Fay Cannings
My story and how the brand came about
I launched Seekd (www.Seekd.co.uk) last June, a sustainable marketplace that brings together ethical designers and eco-conscious shoppers. Seekd was born after a culmination of my career in Corporate Social Responsibility and leading small business programmes, my love of excellent design, jewellery and accessories and the legacy of my Grandfather's jewellery business, a family heritage which I continue to find inspiring.
When I had the idea for Seekd I embarked on journey of research and consultation to further validate and crystallise my thinking and proposition. I discovered early on in my research that consumers in 2018 want more - more stories, more transparency and more authenticity and are prepared to buy less and buy better. That being ethical and sustainable is key, especially when it comes to buying collectable pieces that carry long term value such as jewellery and accessories. Something I’d always valued with my own purchases too and often reflected on when wearing them. I’d also seen first hand the positive difference community investment and sustainable action can make to people and businesses in my 15 year career in corporate social responsibility and managing small business programmes.
The more I spoke to people about my idea, the more I realised there is a gap in the market, that there’s no go to platform like Seekd that brings together a collection of quality assured and ethical jewellery and accessories. It also became apparent there is a growing community of craft designers focused on the ethical and social aspects of jewellery and accessory design and feel there is a missing component when it comes to on line platforms which represent their values and their niche in the market. So Seekd.co.uk was needed - to take the guess work out for customers, and provide a much needed inspiring community and new routes to market for designer makers with a quality craft offering. With craft skills contributing £3.4 billion to the economy, I wanted Seekd to be a community of ethical, interesting and talented designers and small businesses all driven by the same principles.
Overwhelmingly, I’m inspired every day by the amazing people and brands I've met who are part of Seekd, designers, partners, collaborators, mentors etc! I handpick all designers myself from a range and variety of sources from trade shows, partnerships, referrals and online research which is a wonderful process and discovering their work and hearing their stories and motivations. It's so encouraging to meet so many other female founders and see how much talent, focus, ambition and desire for collaboration there is.
I made the deliberate decision in year one to keep my collections small and curated, quality over quantity, and showcase new exciting talent every season. Seekd started off online but has now evolved into curated pop-ups in major shopping locations - it’s been wonderful discovering the opportunity in the pop-up sector which is estimated to be worth £2.3 billion. Consumers seem to be returning to old fashioned retail where local traders, quality produce and specialist independents known for their provenance seem to be increasingly the way people want to shop, especially teamed with educational and insightful events and in store experiences.
Seekd is about finding the perfect piece you’ll love forever that looks good and does good. Designers and brands are handpicked from the best in London and wider at the moment who do one or more of the following;
• Use sustainable or recycled materials
• Use eco-friendly alternatives to traditional materials
• Support local communities through social impact programmes and investing in skills
• Work with fair trade or ethically accredited factories, workshops and co-ops
Purpose. Helping customers solve their problem - A by-product of the brand
Times they are a’changing and consumers want more information than ever. It’s a challenge to the traditional jewellery and accessories market, which has boomed alongside the fast fashion industry over the last 15 years. Whereas a few years ago no one really thought about where their jewellery or bags were made and in what conditions - more consumers care about the environmental and social impact of their goods, and encouragingly more and more designers are creating circular economies, using less waste, creating fairly made products and working with ethical supply chains. In particular the ethical jewellery market is growing and so is the consumer demand for all things eco, green, transparent and traceable. The stats tell the story that 66% of consumers are willing to spend more on a product if it comes from a sustainable brand (Nielson’s annual Global Corporate Sustainability Report 2015), while ethics and transparency is even more important to millennials. Morgan Stanley reported in 2016 that 57% of millennials viewed a brand’s ethics as being very important.
So Seekd helps solve that problem giving consumers a shopping platform with a curated list of designers, artisans and jewellers who commit to its pillars of fairly made, recycled or sustainable materials, social impact and supporting traditional skills. This also has a vital knock on impact in helping mitigate some of the environmental problems we are facing from waste and pollution, not only helping preserve resources but also generating awareness of alternative ways of designing and using materials. Equally, some of the Seekd designers are proud advocates of supporting local communities by investing in local people and transferring their heritage and craft techniques. As more people want to buy less and buy better, Seekd is perfectly placed to offer an alternative to the mainstream shopping experience.
Long term plan and vision
The long term plan is to scale scale scale! For Seekd to be the go to place nationally, and then internationally for sustainable and authentic jewellery and accessories, online and offline. The trusted place for consumers to buy a cherished favourite piece with the peace of mind they are buying well, helping preserve the worlds resources and backing the brilliant designers behind these inspired brands whilst supporting the UK economy and craft industry. With craft skills contributing £3.4 billion to the economy there really is a growing talented army of designers having to choose from, having solid impact.
This year we have a range of dynamic pop-ups planned kicking off with our Spring pop up back at Brent Cross shopping centre. Our loyal collective from the successful Christmas pop up will be showcasing their Spring collection alongside some new brands we’re working with that I can’t wait to unveil. Stay tuned for more information on this and other pop ups later in the year!
Ultimately I would love to be the Farfetch equivalent for quality made ethical accessories by emerging designers - in order to do this I’m gearing up for a fundraising drive over the next 12 months too, here’s to levelling the playing field for female founders looking to scale and create that change…..