Future Focus: Going large, staying local, growing sustainably
Growing sustainably through Future Focus
Celtic & Co have been a successful online and mail order retailer of ethically sourced, natural and sustainable premium knitwear, footwear, outerwear and homewares since 1990.
They’ve enjoyed a fruitful, long-term relationship with both The University of Exeter and Unlocking Potential, who have joined forces to deliver business support programme, Future Focus, of which Celtic & Co have been able to access. In spite of the many challenges they’ve faced since March 2020, Celtic & Co have enjoyed rapid growth and have just announced a move to new premises.
The refurbished former Crantock Bakery building at Indian Queens combines increased warehouse space with a modern office, both of which will help them to continue the sustainable growth of their online and mail order business. (Their factory will remain where it is, in Newquay.)
As Karl Headleand, the business’s Head of Operations, said:
Keeping everyone under one roof helps to maintain the team and family ethos we have built over the last 30 years.
Co-founder Nick Whitworth added:
It’s important to us that we stay true to our roots in everything we do. It was a natural decision to stay in the area and we are delighted that we found the right place for the next chapter of Celtic & Co. so close to home.
Given the nature of their business, they’ve been drawn most recently to Future Focus events centred on sustainable manufacturing and natural dyeing techniques. However, in feedback which echoes that of Cornwall businesses of many kinds, sometimes it’s the company as much as the content which inspires, even when events are online. Celtic & Co’s owner, Kath Whitworth said:
It’s a great way to listen to other business owners and occasionally connect directly with them.
She also emphasised the importance of making time to work on, and not in, the business:
[They] … make you step back from the day-to-day panic of getting through the pandemic and look at where you wanted to take the business forward. [It’s] always very inspiring listening to other business owners.
Celtic & Co always try to minimise their impact on the environment by choosing natural, sustainable and organic fibres over toxic, synthetic and non-biodegradable materials. This focus on the circular economy is one shared by Cornwall business more widely, and one which chimes with The University of Exeter’s partnership with Future Focus. Hollie Kirk, an Impact and Partnership Development Manager for the University, based on the Penryn Campus in Cornwall, says:
We’re particularly excited about connecting and developing innovative businesses and supporting Cornwall’s emerging fashion and textile sector. A lot of what they’re already doing, quite naturally, is putting into practice sustainable and circular economy-led practices, and we’re more than happy to accelerate that process and facilitate it via our academics’ input too.
Becks Polson, who supports businesses through the Future Focus partnership with the University, is aware of the appetite for this kind of change within Cornwall business.
I’ve been a Business Development Manager for many years and have seen quite a shift in that time. Interest in the circular economy and embedding sustainability at the heart of business might have once looked a bit niche and an optional extra. Now we see businesses who think and conduct themselves this way by default, and we as a support resource are more than happy to nurture and encourage this shift.