By Tony Bailey, co-owner and director of operations
Give us the elevator pitch. Tell us about your brand
Astbury Collections is an umbrella company for several outdoor brands we’ve developed or acquired. Evercreatures is our creation and is one of the most popular wellington boot brands sold online in the UK, while it is also sold in 40 countries. We pride ourselves in designing unique, vegan-friendly, sustainable natural rubber boots, made by our factory by our family. Over the last three years, we’ve acquired Rainmac, a British Raincoat Retailer, and Simply Hike, an online Outdoor Adventure retailer. Together, they all complement current operations and relationships, so fit perfectly within our portfolio.
What inspired you to set up your company?
The UK wellington boot market was dominated by boots that were practical but dull, so there was a definite gap in the market for developing wellies that were funky and stood out from the crowd. This was especially true for a younger demographic that were going to festivals and wanted more than black or green wellies! This idea had been brewing and so we had asked some designers to come up with some alternative styles and the results were awesome and so we set about launching our first range – which included the Rainbow design, which is still our best seller.
What was your biggest challenge in year one?
The biggest challenge was ensuring that we didn’t grow too fast! That may sound crazy, but our wellies were being produced in China and when you’re dealing with a location so far away you need to ensure you don’t create a supply and demand issue. We learnt this quickly and concluded we would see better results for the business if we built slowly to ensure the supply met demand and didn’t overstretch.
What would you say has been your biggest marketing success?
As a fashion brand, we’ve had success with several celebrities, and our wellies are constantly in the magazines, but our biggest success has been attending the Glee Trade Show. We had been seeing YOY growth online to consumers, so the next step was to hit the trade sector with our range of products. It was marketing genius as the trade show was amazing, with a huge amount of interest in our products. It added a whole new problem to our supply chain but that was a good problem.
What has been the biggest mistake you made?
Very easy – trying to do everything myself. I think we’re all guilty of being a ‘Jack of All trades’. Over the last three years the business has grown, turnover has increased, and so we’ve been able to bring in new staff and invest in them. Increasing the team has enabled me to focus on my strengths and enable me to concentrate on growing the business. We have a great team now and we’re adding every couple of months to continue on that growth.
Tell us about your plans for the future
So many plans! We’re really excited about our Simply Hike acquisition earlier this year and the wealth of opportunities for the business.
Prior to this acquisition, we had four suppliers and we now have 59! We are looking at adding new sales channels and potentially a bricks and mortar outlet to complement our online sales. We are excited to be shortly announcing new designs for Spring 2022 with our Evercreatures wellingtons. We have recently become the UK’s exclusive distributors for the French footwear brand Rouchette and these will be available on our platforms as well as expanding the range through partnerships. With three outdoor brands attracting many different customers, the next five years will see a lot of growth and activity.