Don’t rely on one supplier, have a back-up
Kapdaa is a British company which takes the textiles discarded by clothes makers and uses them to make other goods, such as wallets and notebooks.
It was set up by Nish Parekh in 2015, when he had the idea re-using the offcuts from the clothes made by his mother, a fashion designer. His first product was a bookmark.
Now, his core business is to make his offcut goods as gifts which are sold back to clothes designers and given to customers along with the garments they have bought.
“In the past three years, we have recycled over 10,000 metres of fabric which would otherwise have gone to landfill,” says Nish. “We work with over 300 fashion brands. It helps them gain environmental credibility. It’s a tangible sign that they are committed to recycling.”
Nish and his team design their products at Kapdaa’s studio in Kingston, London. The blueprints and offcut materials are then shipped to family-run workshops in Mumbai and Delhi to be manufactured.
Up until 2018, Nish relied on only one workshop to turn out his orders. That was until he hit a supply crisis at Christmas time.
“We were doing really well with our Christmas orders,” says Nish. “They were gifts we were planning to hand out to clients. We sent all our work to our supplier. He wasn’t expecting so [many] orders, but he still said he would do it.
“We had a delivery date of 2 December, I remember, and we were waiting – but the things weren’t just getting done.”
The orders finally arrived by air freight from India on 18 December and Nish had to pick them up at dawn from a warehouse near Heathrow Airport to distribute immediately to clients.
Nish says he remembers opening all the boxes on the streets of Hayes and repacking them to deliver them by hand on the same day.
“We delivered all the boxes and all the orders in time, but I would not do it again. It was too close to Christmas, and we were close to letting our clients down. We weren’t giving them enough time to sell them or give them away.”
Shortly afterwards, Nish decided he could no longer rely on a single supplier to deliver all his firm’s orders.
“In January the following year, we started looking for a new supplier. Over the next 10 months we gave them small orders each month so they were ready for the next Christmas rush.
“Now we’ve divided up 20% of our work with our back-up supplier, 80% with our current [main] supplier, so both of them are happy and they know what to expect.”
Nish’s advice to entrepreneurs is to take on a second supplier and give them small amount of regular work so that they can step into the breach if ever there are problems with the main supplier.
“Always have a back-up supplier and train them,” says Nish. “Even if it costs a bit more, go ahead and do it because in the longer run, it will surely help you out.”