*FESTIVE FLASH SALE *

20% OFF EVERYTHING UNTIL 7TH DEC

USE CODE FLASH20 AT CHECKOUT

 

*Free UK and worldwide shipping as standard*
Open navigation
Open search
View Cart - No items!
Close navigation
Contemplation looking out over scottish landscape
Things We Like

The Business and Life Lessons We’ve Learned in 2020

Everything we took for granted before Coronavirus will now be seen in a different light. Everyone  has had a chance to reflect and focus on what’s meaningful to each and every one of us. We  asked the Kinalba team about some of the key learnings they have personally taken from 2020 –  in life and in business.

Interviewer [JS]

2020 has certainly been a very challenging year. What have been your biggest business challenges?

Sinclair Paterson [SP]

Everything just stopped really. And the future is still very much uncertain. We heard about various  manufacturers in our industry that now have a year’s worth of stock. That means they’re going to  need serious help as they’ll essentially stop producing anything further while they work through  selling the existing stock. That puts their workforce in serious jeopardy.

Debbie Paterson [DP]

When we set up Sinclair Duncan Textiles Ltd, we wanted to create a business that was agile,  responsive, supportive and enjoyable. In the 8 years we have been trading, at no point have  we stopped, popped the Moet and said ‘we’ve done it!. To run a prosperous business you need  to keep moving forward, fuelled by challenges and successes. The pressures of 2020 were  unprecedented and unforeseen. The sudden downturn in sales, the temporary interruption in our  supply chain and the problems associated with remote working (and homeschooling!) all made  for some serious self-reflection and re-strategising. We had worked way too hard to become a  Coronavirus casualty. We were in frequent communication with our customers, sharing tales of  daily struggles but offering mutual support. The same message was being repeated – we had  an extremely robust business model, years of experience in the industry and a beautiful product  that was as desirable as it had ever been. This gave us the confidence and reassurance to put  our export strategy into place and let the phoenix that is Kinalba rise

Alistair McDade [AMcD]

Demand is down in our traditional tourist markets. It’s also down in fashion as stores are closed.  However, our own brand shows potential of being in a positive place due to consumer online sales. I think we will see a return to better sales, but it will take time and trust and persistence. But  the world hasn’t completely changed. People like quality and beautiful things and Kinalba will  be able to supply some of that. Market uncertainty is less of an issue for me as I’ve become older. I guess I’ve experienced many  periods of uncertainty before. Things often come back around quicker than one thinks. We have  an amazing ability not to linger on the pain. I think we as human beings are generally optimistic.    I think in times like this and to manage expectations, get everyone on the same page, and  rowing in the same direction. Be supportive of each other and of the business goals. You can’t  really fully expect to deal with a global pandemic in the normal sense of running a business and  challenges you face. However, I do think our business has made well-informed, correct choices  in the past year, which should give us a fighting chance.

[JS]

Tell us about some of the positives you have personally been able to draw out from the previous  year.

[AMcD]

On a personal note I’ve read more, I’ve been outdoors walking more, and I’ve listened to more  interesting podcasts. I’ve also enjoyed the time I’ve had to learn and to study more on textiles –  I’m a textiles geek. So, despite the very challenging year it has been, I’ve used a lot of my time  studying and learning more about this fascinating and inspiring industry and art.

[SP]

Similar to Alistair actually, as it may well have been for many. I’ve had more time to spend with  the family – and also to reacquaint myself with the local area – going out for long walks in nature,  that type of thing.

[DP]

In December 2019, myself and three friends registered for the Budapest marathon. My rationale  was to avenge my previous marathon experience in Dublin in 2014, where I crossed the line  having hit ‘the wall’ at mile 21. At the time I felt physically sick and annoyed at myself that the  textbook training I had done hadn’t been enough and most importantly didn’t feel that  long-desired sense of achievement.

In June 2020 we were due to start training for Budapest but knew that the likelihood of us getting  to go was becoming increasingly slim. I decided to commit to running the distance as planned  in October and so the training began. A marathon isn’t about running 26.2 miles, it’s about the  hundreds of miles of training and discipline that precedes that. When it was confirmed we  couldn’t go, motivation to continue was plummeting and resilience had to kick in. The previous  6 months managing the business during Coronavirus had certainly sharpened that attribute.  Equally, training for the race helped me through one of the toughest years I have ever had to  experience. So on 11th October, I ran 26.2 miles around a local circuit as part of the Virtual  marathon. My goal was to cross the line with a smile (or grimace!) on my face, to feel alive. I’m  proud that I never…gave…up.     Also, the need to be outside in nature is really strong, to feel connected with the earth and  marvel at the views we have in the Scottish Borders as many generations have done before me  for thousands of years – I think that helps put everything in perspective.

[JS]

And what positives from a business perspective have you been able to take out of 2020?

[AMcD]

At the beginning of 2020 I started working for Kinalba so I’ve gained a great deal of knowledge  about the company, about finishing processes, and about challenges in the industry. Some of  the positives are the passion and belief that Debbie and Sinclair possess, and the skills and  knowledge they have to drive the business forward. That includes allowing me the freedom and  input I need. They are also willing to take a risk. I admire and like that.

[SP]

My mindset now is not to take anything for granted. We need to prepare the business to be in  good shape come what may. We need to be able to pivot our strategy quickly, adapt to  whatever challenges we face and just try to be fleet-of-foot.

[DP]

The business positives have come from having the opportunity to make significant strategic  changes whilst the world is in turmoil and re-stake our claim in the cashmere accessory market.  People are expecting and searching for a point of difference in many aspects of their lives and I  think as we present our beautiful new products to the world, they will be more ready for them  than ever. Backed up by use of sustainable fibres, expert Scottish craftsmanship, pioneering design, excellent customer service and all wrapped up in recycled packaging, together we are  already ‘creating better’.

[JS]

Have you changed your mindset in any way?

[DP]

When you run your own business you are completely part of it. When things go in the wrong  direction, there is always the danger that you take it personally and use up emotional energy  rather than focusing on a strategic response. I think this year has made me realise that the  business will always really matter to me but in order to manage the pressures placed upon us, I  need to take a step back from it and become more objective.

[SP]

I have, yes. I’m minded now to try and be prepared to flex and change, to be agile as possible  for whatever is next. There is so much uncertainty with Coronavirus, Brexit, and Scottish  Independence. It would be great to have some stability. 2020 has given me time to think, slow  down, and consider the path forward for the business.

[JS]

Tell us a little bit about your fears and your hopes for the year ahead.

[AMcD]

I think the world is always changing. As long as we stay adaptable, and we’ve shown signs of  that, I think we will be fine. Direct sales will return if we ensure we have a robust and attractive  online offer. The vaccine not working perhaps is a fear but if it doesn’t or the virus adapts beyond  our control we are all in trouble so its not relevant. Of course global warming is a concern too,  but we can by working together help the planet. I don’t think it’s fear that will help, it’s seeing the  challenge and responding to it. Constantinople was sacked and raised to the ground, everyone  inside its walls put to the sword, within two years it was trading again..history teaches us that we  will adapt and change.    I’d hope we look at climate change as a real danger we have to address. I’d also hope we see  ourselves as humans with a responsibility to planet earth. We do have a responsibility to our  community and wider community and to try and support each other through the difficult years  ahead – for ourselves and for our children, and for our children’s children.

I do think there will be a return to quality over quantity and sales of throwaway non-essentials will  reduce. And sales of products which create an emotional attachment and things that one  needs will increase. As William Morris said, “don’t have anything in your home which is not  beautiful or useful.”

[DP]

We sell a product that looks good but more importantly feels amazing. To get this across digitally  is certainly a challenge, particularly as the handle of our product is what sets us aside from our  competitors. Not only that but because our customers meet the team who are at the coal-face  (the founders and designer) when they attend a show their buying experience is much more  personal than if they are meeting a generic sales team. You can’t look someone in the eye and  convince them to buy your product (and into your company ethos) via a screen.

Interviewer [JS]

Finally, how do you think the global route-to-market for the cashmere industry will realign once  we’re free from Coronavirus?

[DP]

It will be interesting to see how the first half of 2021 goes in terms of sales channels. We are going  to be flexible in our approaches and ensure that customers have access to physical  touch-points as much as possible (e.g. visit when possible, send samples/swatches etc). Our  main focus will be digital however and I see this remaining so for the foreseeable future. Going  forward I suspect customers will look for this to continue but will not be entirely convinced to buy  solely through this approach. They will look to have ‘real’ products and people experiences too.

Gift Wrapping - Information

Have your luxurious Kinalba product gift wrapped in elegant, sustainable packaging. Our gift to you is that it’s completely free of charge – as is delivery. We will handwrite your message for that personal touch. You can include this in the check out process before payment. Thank you for shopping with Kinalba x

Terms

  • All packaging is recyclable and intended to be used as many times as possible to store your product or for any other purpose.
  • Packaging includes tissue paper to protect your product and then inserted into a Kinalba branded gift envelope (tied with a tartan ribbon during the Festive Season). If you have purchased a Balvenie Throw then we use a large Kinalba box.
  • Notes are hand-written on recycled A6 card and are limited to 120 characters.
  • Where possible we will reduce the amount of packaging by placing two items in one gift envelope.
  • Our service is free of charge.

Gift Wrapping - Information

Have your luxurious Kinalba product gift wrapped in elegant, sustainable packaging. Our gift to you is that it’s completely free of charge – as is delivery. We will handwrite your message for that personal touch. You can include this in the check out process before payment. Thank you for shopping with Kinalba x

Terms

  • All packaging is recyclable and intended to be used as many times as possible to store your product or for any other purpose.
  • Packaging includes tissue paper to protect your product and then inserted into a Kinalba branded gift envelope (tied with a tartan ribbon during the Festive Season). If you have purchased a Balvenie Throw then we use a large Kinalba box.
  • Notes are hand-written on recycled A6 card and are limited to 120 characters.
  • Where possible we will reduce the amount of packaging by placing two items in one gift envelope.
  • Our service is free of charge.