We first heard from Scottish designer Iseabal Hendry in late 2017, when she was looking for suppliers for her woven leather textiles business. Fast forward three years later and it is all coming together beautifully for her - and in most part due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Iseabal had been steadily working on a capsule collection of handwoven accessories for the last four years, giving up her full time job in February this year with the aim of giving herself more time to focus on her business. Then COVID-19 arrived in the UK and Iseabal's freelance work dried up, leading to months with no income as she was ineligible for any government support scheme.
Iseabal says to get herself our of her low mood slump she "applied for ‘a thing a week’ – an exhibition, a grant, anything. I applied for a Crowdfunder initiative supported by Creative Scotland and didn’t really give it a second thought. When I got the email to say I’d been selected I was beyond unprepared and spent the next 4 weeks frantically finishing my collection, organising a photoshoot and a videographer and setting up a website. I can’t remember when I was last that busy and I truly appreciated every moment of it.
I had an initial target of £5,000 which I wasn’t sure I’d meet in the first month, let alone the first day. Within the first 48 hours I’d doubled my target thanks to match funding from Creative Scotland (I was one of only three who secured the full match funding) and was then approached by RBS who wanted to support my project with their Back Her Business initiative. I sold out of my phone holder, the Swing Case, within the first day and had to make more available not once but twice. The bags themselves were received so positively by local press, friends and people who’d discovered me on social media and I had pre-orders for all of them".
Iseabal adds that it has been an incredibly long process sourcing all of her materials within Europe and ensuring that the entire manufacturing process, from her hand weaving to the manufacturing of the bags, is made in the UK. With a relatively small social media following and having done no marketing prior to her launch Iseabal is over the moon with the reaction and the success of her Crowfunder which finished on £18,000.
Iseabal's website is now up and running and once her launch collection is made she will open up the shop again for pre-orders. She adds "In a funny way I’m not sure I would have done any of this had I not lost my work and struggled so much initially with an imposed lockdown - silver linings!"