Marketing plan case study: Kate Box Knitwear

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Marketing plan case study: Kate Box Knitwear

When I first met Kate Box I knew instantly that her knitwear business was going to take off.

With her strong background working with some incredible industry greats, beautifully hand-crafted knitwear, fantastic branding and a warm personality – success was on the cards. But, getting a fledging business off the ground is really hard work (even with great credentials!) and it can be confusing to know how to start marketing yourself – especially when budgets are tight.

Getting a marketing plan in place is key!

So, prior to Autumn/Winter 2016/17 – Kate and I worked on creating a simple yet strategic marketing plan that focused on several key areas of development to help launch a successful, sustainable business. And what a great season followed for Kate! From featuring in Country Living magazine and growing her distribution, to forming perfect partnerships with local brands – Kate worked hard on following her plan (and also embraced additional opportunities that arose) – and her sales soared!

Kate worked hard on following her plan and her sales soared!

I am absolutely delighted to be able to share Kate’s success story here on the Marketing Vision blog. During the planning process, Kate took on a wealth of new information, stepped outside her comfort zone multiple times and reaped the rewards.

What a great first year in business. Grab a cuppa and be inspired – I couldn’t be prouder of Kate!

Tell us how things went in your first year

I was thrilled with how well everything went in my first year of trading. I’d spent a lot of the summer months investing time into building my own website and finalising products for being professionally photographed. A lot of these tasks took a long time and it was all a steep learning curve but I was glad to be able to do a lot of this work myself and keep the start-up costs to a minimum.

In the autumn when orders started to come in quickly, I was able to respond easily as systems had been put in place. It pays to be organised! My mantra during that first year was to say ‘Yes’ to everything and I think that paid off as my sales figures far exceeded what I had hoped to take.

What did you learn from your first fair?

My first fair – the Farnham Maltings Christmas Fair – was a great experience. I had no expectations and no targets to beat so I just enjoyed it all – in particular meeting the customers.

Working from my home studio can be fairly isolating and it was hugely beneficial to get feedback face-to-face and ascertain what people liked and disliked. I think my biggest lesson was never underestimate how much business continues after the fair, and be prepared to have lots of online enquiries and sales in the weeks following.

Kate Box hand-knitted lambswool wrist warmers.

Kate Box hand-knitted lambswool wrist warmers.

How did you manage increasing your distribution?

As autumn/winter approached I began to increase my selling platforms and rather naively took on almost more stockists than I could keep supplied. It was an intensely busy time and one from which I have learnt – I will be stockpiling a lot earlier this year!

The positive to that is the brand was out there being seen and purchased which made the hard work worthwhile.

How has Instagram helped you grow?

Instagram has been a brilliant social media platform for me and I have found everyone to be so supportive. A collaboration between myself and Cupsmith coffee arose just from following each other on IG. Cupsmith stocked my wares in their Christmas pop-up shop at their roastery.

Instagram has been a key social media platform for me and led to some exciting collaborations and business growth!

I think the coffee drinkers were keen to adopt the hygge trend and as a result their sales were amazing. I now have another collaboration in the pipeline that was initiated on Instagram that I hope will be a lovely little project for 2017.

Kate Box hand-knitted lambswool baby blankets.

Kate Box hand-knitted lambswool baby blankets.

What has been your biggest success?

I think my biggest success last year was seeing my product in Country Living magazine. It was such a huge boost which was totally unimaginable at the beginning of the year. It couldn’t have come at a better time being featured in the February issue (on sale beginning of January) and drove sales well into 2017. As a result of the increased interest, we transferred a lot of the online sales from Etsy back onto my own website which gave us more control and greater flexibility.

It was a good feeling to be able to see something that needed changing, amend it quickly and reap the benefits.

And biggest challenge?

I found juggling my family and the very intensive sales period challenging. By the very nature of knitwear being autumn and winter related will always mean my sales are very concentrated during that time. This is something I can’t change but I will use the power of hindsight to learn lessons for this coming year.

Kate Box hand-knitted lambswool wrist warmers.

Kate Box hand-knitted lambswool wrist warmers.

How did having a marketing plan in place help?

Having a simple marketing plan in place was hugely helpful. It was set at the beginning of the year and meant that as the year progressed and got busier, I knew what I was doing and what I could cope with. My marketing plan was geared very much towards simple and inexpensive marketing techniques and social media usage.

Although prior to setting up my business I was not a big social media user, the marketing plan enabled me to embrace social media in a way that I found comfortable and taught me that consistency is the key!

Following my marketing plan taught me that consistency is key!

What’s next for Kate Box Knitwear?

Although I am not quite ready to hand over the manufacture of my goods to anyone else just yet, I do hope that this year I will make my processes more cost and time effective so that I can stock and exhibit at more places.

I’m looking forward to more collaborations as I find this is such a lovely way to promote and grow the business. With a little knowledge of what to expect I’m very excited about what the next year at Kate Box will bring!

Find out more about Kate Box Knitwear.


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