The power of connection – driving small business growth

Russell Goodenough
By , - Fujitsu and SMEsRetail

An eyebrow or two has been raised when I enter a room.  Not down to my wardrobe – as a Client Managing Director I’m suited and booted by routine – but people tend to notice a surprising accessory, my laptop bag.  There’s a story behind this.

The bag in question can be described as a student style vinyl bag. It’s, dare I say it, cool and trendy, and looks like it should be filled with drum’n’bass records, not a laptop, and probably not on the shoulder of a Managing Director.

This is the product of the clever marketing of young entrepreneur Mat Dusting and his company M-24. He started out by using recycled truck tarpaulin to fabricate long lasting, fashionable bags from his garden shed.

After 3 years, over 100 hours of product development, and a great many prototypes he was able to recruit a team to fabricate his bags for him and he launched his website www.m-24.co.uk.

Each bag is unique as the design depends on the available tarpaulin. The production process is entirely ethical in terms of the production teams, who are based here in the UK and come from a range of mixed social backgrounds.  It’s also great for the environment as it recycles fabric otherwise heading for landfill.

M-24’s mission is to make the best quality product at the best possible price. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that they have opted out of keeping expensive retail outlets or selling through retailers. Instead, they showcase their unique product at pop-up shops, including a recent spell in London tube stations.

Being a growing start-up, any help they can get is gladly accepted. I happened to notice the pop-up stand at London Embankment tube station and recognised the opportunity to help such a promising company.

Using Fujitsu’s relationship with Business in the Community (BITC), I was able to put Mat in touch with Wayne Hemmingway, Co-Founder of Red or Dead and chairman of the South Coast Design Forum, who spent some time at the pop-up shop providing him with tips and advice on growing his business in the fashion industry.

Having started Red or Dead with similarly modest roots, Wayne was in a great position to help Mat work on his business strategy and take M-24 from strength to strength. It’s a real example of how the right mentoring, at the right time, can make a huge difference to small businesses.

Image of front of M24 pop-up shop

 

M-24 is an ever growing brand, with a pop-up shop open in Farringdon Station until the 4th of January. Be sure to visit when you are passing by, it will be hard to miss with its festoon lights hanging from the ceilings, oil drums dotted around and if that doesn’t catch your attention, the downsized truck in the store will.

Or support the business and treat yourself to a bag!

Fujitsu is proud to be BITC’s Responsible Business of the Year 2015.  Find out more about how we’re helping make a real, practical & positive difference to the communities in which we operate.

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