We met Richard & Edward from Glencroft a few years ago at a trade fair in Harrogate. We instantly wanted to collaborate with Glencroft as they stand for many of the same values as our own business; they are family-run, they are passionate about wool, and they champion British-made. At Wool Blanket Online we understand the importance of traceability. We know many of our customers are interested in where their purchases come from, with this in mind, we've asked Edward a few questions about Glencroft. Here is what we found out:
How did your family get into the wool business? My father’s first proper job out of school was selling animal feed in London, through business contacts he then moved on to a raw wool company in Somerset which supplied mills across Yorkshire. He can remember his sales trips to Yorkshire in the late 1960s would take a full five days due to the amount of working woollen mills he’d visit. The mills would buy literal tons of raw wool for all the products they were making. He then moved into sales at a knitwear business during the late 70s and 80s. It was at this time that many businesses started to offshore their production to the Far East and many mills and factories were going out of a business as a result. He decided to support these businesses by creating his own company and brand manufacturing entirely in the UK.
When did Glencroft start? Our family business was established by my parents Richard and Justina Sexton in January 1987. They registered the ‘Glencroft’ brand to reflect the rural country ethos and location. Also the ‘glen’ was a nod to the fact that at the time many of our products were made in Scotland (sadly all factories that are now closed), we supplied many independent shops across the Highlands (as we still do to this day) and we continue to use many traditional Scottish patterns and materials.
Where are you located? We started back in 1987 in an industrial unit in Settle before moving into our present location – a 200 year old disused cow barn that we converted into a warehouse in the village of Clapham (where our family also resides) in the Yorkshire Dales.
This thoughtful video shows the wonderful views of the Clapham countryside.
What would you say inspires your business? The business started based on my father’s relationships with small British manufacturers of wool and sheepskin products, which continues through to this day. These relationships are key to everything we do and inspires the range we produce and designs we create. However we are definitely also inspired by the beautiful Dales countryside, farming and animals in the fields around us. It’s also why we primarily focus on natural and local materials from sheep such as 100% British Wool and 100% Harris Tweed.
Where are your products made? We try and make absolute everything as locally as we can with about 80-90% of our entire range manufactured in the UK. And within that we also like to say we practice ‘responsible sourcing’. What this means is that we try to always ensure that the materials we use and the manufacturing processes we follow are all done by people and suppliers paid a decent wage and materials and processes that consider the wider impact on the environment. We also still make a number of items in house including hand finishing over 100 sheepskin rugs a week and manufacturing our range of sheepskin hats using an industrial sheepskin sewing machine (it’s a robust bit of kit that’s over 50 years old!).
What materials do you use? Everything from sheep is our motto. And combine that with local sourcing it’s the reason why we use as much 100% British Wool as we can in our range. An entirely natural product sourced from the hills around us. And wool is the original super material – it’s breathable, anti bacterial, anti flammable, biodegradable and lasts for years if cared for right and renewable.
We also use genuine 100% Harris Tweed cloth hand woven on the Outer Hebrides, Yorkshire woven British Wool tweeds, British and European sheepskin.
While sustainability and the environment have always been important to us, like many people we have become even more aware in recent years of our responsibilities as both a business and fashion brand to ensure we’re doing everything we can. That’s why we’re constantly looking at new ways to reduce the amount of plastic packaging and man-made fibres in our range and also our manufacturing processes.
What is most important to you when designing a new product?
While we do have a range of traditional styles that are always popular and never go out of fashion we like to be as original as we possibly can when designing new items. The design process is often a combination of creating a unique design, reimagining old classics (such as our Dales sheep jumper), working closely with the manufacturing process to ensure its viable and also getting ideas and inspiration from all around us – especially our customers, both retailers and individuals. Quite a few of our products are the result of suggestions from retailers about what they’d like to see in wool or sheepskin.
What is your personal favourite in your collection and why?
Our sheepskin bobble hat – the hat is our classic Aran beanie manufactured in the North of England from 100% British Wool, we then make the bobble from British sheepskin offcuts, stuff it with spare wool and attach it to the top. It encapsulates what we’re about, plus I have one of the original samples where we made the bobble too big and I quite like the ridiculousness of it (the bobble is about the size of a grapefruit!).
What do you hope people will enjoy the most about your products?
I hope they like the style and it does the job they bought it for such as keeping them warm, but I also hope they can have a little smile every time they wear or use it that they’ve supported a whole supply chain of British manufacturers and producers. And also for most of our products the fact that once they’ve bought it, they won’t have to buy another one for 20 years!
What achievement of your business are you most proud of? When customers go out of their way to phone us up and say how happy they were. It absolutely makes our day when this happens.
If you asked my parents they’d also add the day when Prince Charles visited the village and they gave him a couple of sheepskin rugs as a wedding present (he’d just married Camilla). We imagine they are either side of bed to sink his toes into every morning!