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Inventor Insights: A Q&A with SNOOKS, the girls behind the FIRST Women’s British Outerwear Brand

 
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Photo Credit: Beth Walsh | Susie Beere (left) & Sophie Kelly (right), co-founders of SNOOKS

 

Version 22 fist came across SNOOKS a few years ago when they joined The Studio, the small business hub for Loughborough Graduates to develop and launch their business ideas that we were currently residents in.

SNOOKS had entered The Studio right after creating their brand, where they spent the following 2 years working in the hub to help bring their business to life. Their first product range (the Reviver Series) was designed, developed and launched during this time, and has since gotten a lot of media attention due to their fantastic products and brand values. As of today, SNOOKS have launched their first Kickstarter campaign to fund the Union Jacket Series!

 

Video Credit: Loughborough University

 

SNOOKS came about because both Susie and Sophie were getting tired and frustrated that they weren’t able to find any snow sportswear that suited them well enough. Most on-the-shelf snow sportswear for women has been designed by male-oriented brands and were often made in a “girly” way. Most sportswomen found it easier to just wear male clothes, which then often didn’t fit all too well.

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The need for gear that wasn’t designed for someone else, seemed like a giant gap in the market. So the aims for SNOOKS are to give more choice for women, by representing those that snowboard and ski, themselves.

SNOOKS is designed by women, for women.

SNOOKS Outerwear is made in the UK. They want to remain true to their roots and support local industry and British riders. All of their gear is designed and manufactured here – a great title to have.

 

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Photo Credit: SNOOKS | Sophie and Susie wearing their custom SNOOKS jackets

 

Now that I’ve given you a bit of background on SNOOKS and the brains behind it, it’s now time for our Q&A with Sophie Kelly!

Here it is, enjoy.

 

V22: Explain what SNOOKS does in one Tweet? 140 character limit. GO.

Sophie: 140 characters bang on for you to decipher
#snooksisdesignedforwomenbywomenforskiersforsnowboardersforwomenwhowanttomovemountainsand
challengesterotypesnopinkandfluffyheremadeinbritain

 

V22: What’s the meaning behind the name SNOOKS?

Sophie: To Cock-A-Snook is an old English Phrase which is a gesture whereby one puts the span of the hand up to to one’s nose, thumb touching nose, and fingers wiggle, in the sense of a “derisive gesture”. What we are saying, to a very male-dominated industry, is: “Hey guys, we totally get what you are doing for the guys, but we cock a snook at you! There are so many options out there for men; we thought it was a about time that women had more choice!”

There is actually only one other female specific brand out there in the industry that hasn’t stemmed for a guys brand; we are here to change that. We are designed for women from start to finish, and will remain true to this, always.

 

V22: What’s the one thing you’ve bought for the business for under £100 that has had the greatest positive impact on SNOOKS and why?

Sophie: I’d say Beyoncé, the SNOOKS pigeon and mascot, she has so much sass and turns heads wherever she goes. Probably one of our best ambassadors. Our little portable wifi device has also been very useful in this world of global connectivity.

 

V22: What single achievement of SNOOKS are you most proud of?

Sophie: Pitching in front of 450 business owners at Baldwin’s Kickstart final awards night was a pretty nerve-racking experience after a gruelling previous couple of rounds. Winning on the night with £20,000 to go towards the development of the brand was just the best!

People voted on the night following our presentation around the story of SNOOKS, Business partner Susie also made a hilarious, and accidental inappropriate comment, along the lines of not all women wanting fur, which got the whole audience in stitches! I think as serious as we are about making a success of SNOOKS, it’s so important to have fun along the way!

 

V22: What is the one most difficult obstacle you’ve faced since the beginning of your business?

Sophie: Perhaps a bit of a taboo as an entrepreneur; no one really wants to admit the financial strains in getting your business off the ground, but in personal life and for the business it has been very challenging at times. Susie Co-Founder and I both still have part-time jobs to ensure we have the time to invest into SNOOKS, all the revenue created from SNOOKS goes straight back into the business.

On initial outlay of a very large manufacturing bill we did have to almost move mountains to ensure what needed to go ahead, did go ahead, however I think with the right attitude with perseverance and passion for what you are doing, you can achieve anything!

 

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Photo Credit: Planning Unit | SNOOKS Reviver Jacket – Merlot

 

V22: If you woke up tomorrow and got unlimited funds for your business, what would be your first purchase and why?

Sophie: I think first thing’s first, it would have to be to ‘buy’, well, hire a team of awesome and talented employees, ranging from production manager, web development through to sales reps. At the moment it is just Susie, Co-Founder and I who do everything from procurement to fulfilment and the finances.

We recognise that it is important to employ people better than you are in the thing that they do, it’s no good to anyone spreading yourself too thinly! Once we have the best time around us and invested all we need into SNOOKS, as this comes first, we will then buy a VW camper van that comes fully equipped with a Tequila bar!

 

V22: Who is your biggest sporting idol, and who is your biggest business idol? and why.

Sophie: I think for us it’s got to be Jenny Jones! What a heroine she is in the snowboarding world. When she tore up the history books and stomped her way to Great Britain’s first EVER Winter Olympic Medal in a snow event. This happened in 2014 just as we really made the decision to go full speed with SNOOKS so she was very pivotal to this inspiration!

Business-wise, it has to be world class designer and entrepreneur Stella McCartney, what an inspiration! She has used her British take on modern femininity and tailoring, combined this with her aptitude for business, and grown it into a hugely successful global brand. Not only has she completely become an icon in the fashion world, she is a pioneer on environmental issues and sustainable business, as a far as successful and empowering women go… Stella McCartney is pretty much the whole package!

 

V22: What piece of advice would you give yourselves 3 years ago when starting SNOOKS?

Sophie: Everything takes so much longer than you initially think. In terms of contingency, leave yourself at least 3 months for lead terms and further planning, and don’t get wrapped up in the minor details… THINK BIG.

 

V22: What made you decide that you wanted to be a “British Brand”? What opportunities has being one brought you, that you otherwise wouldn’t have a chance to acquire?

Sophie: A couple of things really, Britain as a nation often gets forgotten when it comes to the ski and snowsports scene, but actually there is so much talent here on our homeground, despite the fact we may be limited in our snowy mountains! For this reason we wanted to celebrate and share success of our athletes that have blossomed from the likes of the snowdomes and be proud of what we have achieved!

From a manufacturing perspective we were really keen to keep a close eye on quality control over production. Although costs may be more competitive in Asia, quality control is difficult, especially for a start-up. It is so important to us that we get our sizing right, one of the frustrations we had faced in buying women’s gear before starting SNOOKS, so this was a very influential factor to manufacture in the UK. This way we get to support the local economy too and be assured quality is exceeding expectations.

 

V22: What’s your next plan of action?

Sophie: Well, our Kicktstarter campaign has just gone live, so our plan of action is to now ensure everything is in place to ensure a smooth and efficient fulfilment across the world. As it is summer for us in the UK at the moment, we also simultaneously will be planning for our winter season launch and strategise how we are to enter the European market. We will be hosting and sponsoring plenty of events too, to encourage girls and women to hit the slopes and be adventurous!

 

 

V22: Where can people go to find out more about SNOOKS and what you guys do?

Sophie: Here is where you can pledge support for various and exclusive SNOOKS’ goodies!

You can find out more about us as Founders of Snooks here 🙂

We also aim to entertain, so follow us on social media for ridiculous outtakes as well as stories bad ass women who have achieved great things!

Website: snookswear.co.uk
Facebook: SNOOKS
Twitter: @thesnooksgirls
Instagram: @thesnooksgirls

 

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Photo Credit: Planning Unit | SNOOKS Reviver Jacket – Teddington Teal

 

That’s a wrap on another Inventor Insights. Good luck to the SNOOKS girls with their Kickstarter project! We’re sure their campaign is going to be successful, and we’re looking forward to seeing the products being made and shipped for their lucky backers. It will be an interesting and eventful journey!

 

 

Up  Next…

We plan on sharing more Inventor Insights with you over the coming months, and if you have any businesses in mind that you’d like us to get in touch with, then please let us know!

 

Until next time, folks.

 

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