Going global

Blade and Rose owner Amanda Peffer found a distinctive product format which resonates with a wide audience, and is now looking to further its UK and European expansion

baby in knitted pink legging with peter rabbit image When did you start up and why? When I was on maternity leave after the arrival of my daughter, I found I was constantly on the lookout for cute little leggings but never quite found what I wanted, so I designed my own. Initially there were only three designs, each with the unique and very cute 'design on the bum', which were a huge hit and sold out immediately.

What prompted you to launch the business? The business just grew organically. I gave up my job to concentrate on Blade and Rose then twelve months later my husband Jon joined the company too.

What challenges have you overcome since the company's launch? We have just celebrated our 13th birthday and business is going from strength to strength. Our biggest challenges to date must be the global pandemic followed by Brexit. However, Jon used the downtime during COVID to set up a European warehouse in Waterford, meaning we were all ready to ship globally. Having two warehouses does come with its own challenges, however, we can ship our orders quickly and efficiently worldwide. During COVID our online business grew significantly, and it continues to thrive.

Tell us about your product offering. Our key products are the leggings, these are what we are known for, and our design, detail and quality mean we remain the market leaders. The collection has however now grown to include tops, t-shirts, socks, rompers, splash suits, hoodies, bibs, and a summer collection manufactured in a lighter weight fabric.

toddler in knitted leggings with hyland cow on bottom What are your most popular products? The Highland Cow collection is our best seller followed by Maura Mouse with leggings always outselling everything else, however we do sell a lot of outfits, socks, leggings, and a top. Our customers love to share their cute pictures with us too, and we share as many as we can on social media. We even have some celebrity fans.

Have any styles taken you by surprise with their popularity? In 2021 we launched our very first Peter Rabbit collection, this was the first time that we worked with a licensor, however the lovely team at Penguin helped us to get the product to market and we have been delighted with the response. We are of course based in Kendal in the Lake District, so the collaboration felt like such a nice fit. We love to see our product for sale in the local Beatrix Potter attractions and retail stores.

How do you keep your designs fresh and current? Do you follow trends? We have an inhouse designer, Faye, who has been working with us for six years now. Faye does research on colour, interiors, and fashion trends. and we also ask our dedicated customers for their feedback. Our product is so bright and eye-catching, this is what we are known for.

What sets you apart from your competitors? Our product is very three dimensional, so the design is not just printed onto the product, it is layered, often with tactile fabrics, beautiful embroidery, and attention to detail. We only work with the best vendors using materials from sustainable sources and of course kind to children's delicate skin. We are also extremely price competitive and offer first rate customer service.

How are you finding the current climate in the UK? Is it affecting business? Things are challenging; however, we are so fortunate that what we sell is a functional gift, which is often what thrives in a poor economy. We also know that people will always want to buy a gift for a new baby or the children in the family. Being sensitively priced while offering a beautiful quality product puts us in a good place.

baby in colourful clothes at cake smash shoot

baby in green top with bear on it and printed leggins How do you view the future of independent retail? I really believe that the future for the independents is bright. Post COVID I see that many people want to continue to holiday in the UK but also experience 'shopping' again. We were all forced to utilise the internet during COVID, and this opened online shopping to a whole new demographic. However, consumers want to see unique gifts, they want to touch and feel the product fi rst. The locations of some of the independent stores might change, from the high street to more out of town locations, linked to cafes, garden centres, farm shops where parking is free. The independents that thrive will be the ones that go that extra mile – beautiful window displays that are updated frequently with inspiring instore displays, adding in new product collections alongside best sellers, to keep the consumer returning regularly to see what is new.

Are you active on social media? How is this important for the business? We are extremely active on social media. Our fan base supply us with so much content, gorgeous photos of their littles ones wearing our clothes. Until now I have been responsible for all of our social media however, we have just employed the services of a social media company to increase our content and focus on the newer platforms.

Do you have any advice for new businesses starting out in the world of gifts? For us at Blade and Rose, we found a unique product format which resonated with a wide audience. Product is key no matter if you are a supplier or a retailer. Also be prepared to work hard and go that extra mile.

What can we expect in the future from the company? Our focus is to increase our presence with independents and garden centres across the UK and Europe. We are now working with an experienced Marketing Consultant to help us expand our reach. There are also some new licensed collections under development which is so exciting. We are actively looking for new stockists in all areas. If you are interested in stocking our product please get in touch, we would love to talk to you.

T: +44 (0)1539 730 880
E: hello@bladeandrose.co.uk

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