08 Feb 2021
After my personal battle with depression and using ‘Knititation’ (mindfulness for fidgeters) to help me through, I wanted to own a wool company and build my own brand. That was the start of McIntosh, a company that works differently to other suppliers. I think I’ve been very brave because I’m not going to the Far East and other countries to buy a product that I can market quickly, the time and effort that goes into McIntosh is huge. I’m a one-man team at the moment and we’re doing okay, but I want to spread the word about my products that do not pollute the planet, that are as ecological in every respect as I can make them and my system is financially fair to retailers. My main aim for my stock was to provide something that makes a human feel whole, and to do that I’ve had to use natural fibres that I hand-dye myself. My cost base for this is not cheap, when you knit with a truly pure, natural fibre you have a feeling in your fingers that is like butter. It’s so comforting, when you finish a product with it and put it on your body you really notice the worth of that product, and it makes you feel something good again.
I’m looking to expand the McIntosh business, make it global, do it well and be sustainable, but that brings challenges. Most independent dyers are charging retailers £18 a skein for 100g of wool, and retailers sell it for a standard price of £22.50. I just don’t think that system works, these shops have to pay their rent, staff and other outgoings and there’s really not much left after all that. Other yarn companies bring out new products two or three times a year and reps will go to shops to advertise this and encourage retailers to buy stock, but I don’t do that.
I decided to get creative and developed the ‘McIntosh Flock’, that I’m encouraging businesses to sign up to. I don’t charge shops to stock my items, the only fee I charge is £120 refundable deposit if retailers choose to have an in-store display, but there’s no charge for the products they sell. All sales are through my site, the price is a set amount and I pay shops 20% of the retail price, minus the cost of credit card processing. For example, if a shop sold a McIntosh Bluefaced Leicester skein for £22.50 it’s about £4.35 (ex VAT and card processing fees) a skein profit for not having to pay for stock. My retailers are given a unique URL which leads customers to my website. I can then trace where each visitor has come from, and can commission profits appropriately. Once an order has been placed I ship direct to the customer in three days. We pay shops on a monthly basis on the last business day of the month for all products sold.
When you sign up you get all the information you need, including the Flock Book which is a user manual on how to use the system and what we do. Retailers will also get access to all of my promotional images for Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, website, blogs and more, and at least once a month I send out an email called the Flock Gazette. It tells the ‘McIntosh Flock’ where we are, what products are coming out next, what our marketing strategy will be and how retailers can capitalise on McIntosh.
I started this idea because I’m worried about how much small businesses are struggling right now, and I wanted to create a fair and ethical system that helps them make a decent amount of money. There’s no hassle involved in what I do, if the system doesn’t work for retailers they are free to leave - as it costs nothing to be a member.
*Craft Business Offer*
20% off all McIntosh hand-dyed products for Craft Business readers and free UK postage until 31st March 2021 - use the promo code ‘CRAFTBUSINESS’ at checkout. www.knitmcintosh.com
For all enquiries please email firstname.lastname@example.org
More about James McIntosh
James is the founder of McIntosh, author of the hugely successful title Knit and Nibble and is a world award-winning food writer. He lives with his partner Thomas, a senior consultant physician in a leading London teaching hospital. After battling depression, James worked with Thomas to develop ‘Knititation’, something he calls “mindfulness for fidgeters”. James’ obsession with knitting has grown tenfold over the years, and he is now on a mission to inspire others with his quality award winning hand-dyed yarn business.