Aha! Well yes, I am already guilty of breaking one resolution, which was to put this article into our blog in January. However, it's the Chinese New Year of the Monkey this week and we also say farewell to the Year of the Sheep, so it's still reasonably timely.
Now that The Natural Fibre Company is 10 years old, we are thinking about the next decade (or so ...):
- we have grown in capacity and capability and are offering more and more varied services than ever - so please respond to our customer surveys or contact us to tell us what more you would like us to offer or do and we will look at everything and see what we can manage and when
- we have managed to grow without making too many mistakes, and feel that our quality has steadily improved so that it is now amongst the best available, and we are also able to turn around production more quickly than most mills - so we want to maintain this and to continue to listen and respond in order to keep up the quality to the standards our customers require, whether large or smaller
- we have more customers, not just in the UK but also right across Europe now, and we are working on ensuring that we can continue to grow and support the adding of value to natural animal fibres as far afield as possible - we are currently working with an Australian farmer on developing the value of his high welfare Merino flock and have worked for many years with people in the Falkland Islands - and there are more enquiries every day
- we need to be sure of staying in touch with our roots as we grow, to maintain our values and approach, and this means developing our staff and culture to keep true to this - we see many of our customers as more like friends and we gain tremendous support, advice, information and ideas from them - and we will continue to work on this
- our advice and information on the website has recently all been revised and updated, and in reviewing our calendar in particular we have focussed on the things we hope will be most valuable as a list of the important actions across the year - our sheep health guides on pesticides, fly strike, feet, etc. are all still important and very current - we know that only healthy animals produce good fibre so we start with this in mind!
- we have always worked in partnership and are always seeking new partners, ideas and opportunities ... so please talk to us!
For Blacker Yarns we're now heading from childhood into (a bit of) maturity, and we have shed a few things on the way:
- we started off with too many ideas and products and found that, while they were lovely and good qualtiy, we could not maintain the textiles (throws, scarves, cushions and blankets) or the garments (machine knitwear and socks) and acceessories (bags and doorstope) as they simply do not sell fast enough for us to be able to maintain a wide stock and offer the choice which customers want
- so now we are very much focused on knitting and crochet yarns, along with a range of appropriate classical patterns for them
- within our yarn offering, we have also made changes: we have introduced some ranges of blends to make pure wool more accessible to a wider range of people, while continuing to offer our key British Breeds yarns, increasingly from single or named farms
- we have listened to customers and are responding with updated ranges and colour palettes and are now working with a wide group of designers and podcasters to gain ideas and patterns on the broadest front
- we have a select and enthusiastic group of stockists and will continue to add more, mainly because they come to us recognising the values behind our yarns, which are the same as those for The Natural Fibre Company
As a whole, we are incredibly proud of our customers, our staff and some outstanding partnerships like Project Woolsack for the 2012 Olympics and Wovember, which epitomise the way we feel. This is about being passionate and making it personal and this is how we want to continue.