When you're starting up, having a clear idea of your startup's ethos and story is a surefire way to ensure your passion shines through, and your messaging stays on track. We chatted to Jill Henry, founder of stylish new Edinburgh-based cyclewear brand Meander, about the importance of knowing your startup direction.

How to find your startup direction - Meander

At Meander we’re getting ready to launch our cycling outerwear and accessory brand for style-conscious individuals on Kickstarter. We’ve spent the last 18 months working on the design and development, and we can’t wait to launch it.  It started as an idea on a cycle trip from London to Paris with a few friends, and then it spun from there.  We then went on to source amazing fabrics from performance mills in Italy and Switzerland, and found great factories to develop a jacket that we believe is the perfect cycling jacket.

Why is it important to know your startup's direction and purpose?

I would encourage anyone starting out with an idea to watch Simon Sinek's TED Talk, “How great leaders inspire action”.  Someone introduced me to it a while ago and it’s a great one to listen to as it really makes you think about why you do what you do, and how that shapes what you do. It inspired me to think more about our 'why', which led to us finding the brand values that help shape our decisions and our designs.  

For me it is important to create garments that are equal in style and performance, to keep my love of Scandinavian design (minimalism and functionality) at the forefront of our designs, and to make high-quality, sustainable products that will last in our wardrobes as a staple for years to come. I want to give the best possible value to our customers - another reason why reward-based crowdfunding is such a good platform for us to launch from.  By working directly with the manufacturer and selling through Kickstarter, we’re able to offer great quality garments without the designer price tag.

It’s these values that we are truly passionate about, and that will help to shape our business going forward.  

How to find your startup direction - Meander

How has your journey towards this evolved?

It started as out as an idea on a journey with five friends cycling from London to Paris. We all loved cycling, and being from a fashion background I’m passionate about good design and quality garments. Prior to starting Meander I managed production, development and sourcing for various fashion brands such as House of Holland, French Connection and The Duffer of St George.

When shopping for cycle clothing prior to our trip, I struggled to find what I was looking for. I wasn’t looking for a full lycra racing outfit, as although we were doing long distances it was fun event with friends, and we had plans to stop at vineyards on the way - I wanted cycle clothing that had performance and that I could feel comfortable wearing to a bar too. I couldn’t find what I was looking for and ended up wearing a mix of yoga clothes, borrowing one of my husband’s waterproof jackets as I didn’t want to spend money on a cycling jacket that I didn’t love.

I had been following crowdfunding for quite a while and was keen to start by launching a product on one of the major platforms. Initially my thought process was design then launch, but as my research and concept progressed, I realised that it wasn’t going to work to make one product and as just pop it on Kickstarter. It needed to be about a concept that I was passionate about and that no matter what hurdles I came across I would continue with. Now we’ve developed a product that we’re completely happy with, and a long-term vision of a brand we want to create.  

How has having a clear vision of your direction benefited your startup?

When you have a clear direction and believe in what you’re doing, then you will be passionate about what you do. I’m excited not just about one product but about the entire concept. When I talk to others I can easily convey what we’re doing, and that helps others understand and buy into the idea. At the end of the day it’s important that your friends and family get behind you - not so you can sell them your product, but so they will support your idea.

How to find your startup direction - Meander

What's next for your startup?

We’re almost at the end of the product development journey, but we’ve still got a long way to go before we go live with our crowdfunding campaign. I’m really excited about the next few months as we’ve got a lot of fun stuff to do, like our photoshoot and making the crowdfunding film.

Marty and Chris from Tens recommended our film director Danny Bonner when we met at a Virgin StartUp event in Edinburgh, and we’ve now planned out our film script, which I’m super excited to shoot.

We’ve also got a busy schedule with marketing and PR prior to launch, which we’ll roll out over the next few months.  I’m pretty sure it will be an exciting and terrifying moment at the same time when we go live! After crowdfunding we have plans to develop a full ecommerce website, and launch a collection of functional and stylish outerwear for cyclists on Meander Apparel

Any other tips?

Trust your instincts and follow your passion. Read books from writers and entrepreneurs that inspire you. I loved reading books like Bounce by Mathew Syed, Contagious by Jonah Berger, and of course the man himself, Richard Branson!

 

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