Jo Tutchener-Sharp, founder of Scamp & Dude
How has the childrenswear landscape changed over the years?
I’ve seen a rise in creative, independent brands who offer stylish, tasteful, well-made clothes for children whose style-conscious parents don’t want to dress them in designer gear but don’t want to buy unethical, mass-produced clothes. People are starting to understand that you get what you pay for and that choosing cheap, mass-produced clothes usually means someone has had to suffer somewhere down the supply chain.
How instrumental is Instagram for small businesses?
Instagram is essential for small businesses. It’s your shopfront, it’s your opportunity to tell your brand story and showcase your products. It’s also a way of communicating directly with your customers. I love to post ideas on Instagram, to ask customers what they think. It’s so important to listen to what your customers have to say, after all.
The introduction of social media has meant that independent brands are given more of an opportunity to shine. It used to be the bigger brands with healthy advertising and PR budgets that really got noticed by appearing on the pages of magazines and newspapers, but today everyone has a chance to stand out, thanks to social media channels such as Instagram.
What are the downsides, if any?
You become vulnerable by being so visible, which does tend to lead to other brands being influenced by your designs. I’m currently going through a difficult situation with Asda because they used my trademarked slogan “a superhero has my back”. Even when you own the trademark it somehow doesn’t stop everyone from using it, so you really have to watch your back.
Your designs are all unisex. Do you think gender-neutral is an important trend?
I wanted to create a contemporary, stylish, comfortable collection of clothes to be worn by all, regardless of gender. Our coral leopard print sweatshirt is one of our best-selling items for both girls and boys.
What’s the future for independent designers? Is it becoming saturated?
I think the problem comes when people don’t have a strong idea or clear point of difference. You have to stand out in order to be noticed by buyers, press and customers.
It isn’t easy launching your own brand, I’ve seen many launch and close within a couple of years, which is so sad. It’s such a competitive market, so you have to have a new idea and also be willing to work more hours than ever before to make it succeed.