A Borders firm specialising in premium outdoor clothing has its sights set on the international market following a bumper five years in business.
Active lifestyle brand Findra hit the headlines last week when the Scottish Government’s infrastructure secretary Michael Matheson chose its Innerleithen base to announce Holyrood’s £85m investment in the Borderlands Growth Deal.
Alex Feechan, founder of Findra Clothing, said that investment, combined with a further £260m promised from Westminster, could open doors for more Borders businesses to start and flourish.
“We were delighted that Michael Matheson came here – to me that shows they believe in the potential for small businesses in a small town in the Borders,” Alex said.
“I think this money could have a real impact if it is used in the right way. There’s been many positives to starting up a business in the Scottish Borders, because of the sort of business we are, related to the outdoors, it’s the perfect environment. But there’s also challenges that come with setting up a business in a rural location. The infrastructure and the digital side of it is really important. At the moment internet connection speeds can be sporadic, things can slow down which interrupts flow.”
Despite the challenges, Findra has gone from strength to strength since its launch in 2014, with its shop and design hub opening in Innerleithen’s high street in 2017, new retail space established in Edinburgh the following year and a workforce now into double figures.
Originally created for women, the innovative brand, which uses natural or sustainable, recycled materials, has since evolved with its men’s capsule collection hitting the shelves last year. “I started the business because I felt there was not a great deal of choice for women,” explained Alex, former head of design at Peter Scott knitwear.
“I’d taken up cycling and was struggling to find suitable, comfortable clothes that looked good, so I decided to do it myself.
“I wasn’t really thinking of a men’s range but from the start men liked the design and they liked the materials.”
International growth across its range of women’s and menswear, while building a community of like-minded people who enjoy getting outdoors, is the current goal.
“In quite a small way we already sell internationally through our online shop,” Alex said. “We have got some wholesale accounts in Denmark and we sell a lot in Australia.
“We’re going to be growing the wholesale side of the business, and we’re looking at putting a strategy in place to really look at the markets and push that nationally and internationally.”
And with the wheels in motion on plans to create a world-class Mountain Bike Innovation Centre in Innerleithen, it’s also an exciting time closer to home for the cycling-inspired brand.
“I think it’s a very exciting initiative, although there’s a lot to be considered to make sure that it is done sensitively,” Alex said. “For that project to be a success it’s about listening to the local community.
“There’s a number of small businesses, cafes and shops popping up in the high street that have taken quite a bold decision to base themselves here in a little unknown town.
“I hope that, as the project develops, opinions and views are taken from the wider and business community here so we can all work together to see it become a success.”