Like many, our business and makers have been drastically affected by Covid-19.
Our made to order items relies on continual production and our makers rely on the orders for their income.
For the protection of our women makers and their families, the production studio they operate in has closed until it is safe again to reopen.
With the studio closed, we’re unable to sell/produce our items. Therefore we are adopting new production methods, so we can continue running, whilst delivering sustainable, solutions for our makers and customers.
- Move our made to order production in house.
- Launch a new embroidery initiative, to support our women makers in Tower Hamlets, so they can continue working, safely from home.
This is to ensure their financial security and wellbeing during the 3rd National lockdown.
See below for more details.
AK Threads is currently run solo by myself – Gracie and brought to life by the wonderful Individual makers I collaborate with. My mission has always been to cultivate and encourage women in their talents whilst offering financial support.
AK's made to order garments is usually produced in Limehouse, Tower Hamlets. All of the women makers live locally in the area and there has been an exponential growth in Covid-19 cases over the last month.
During this period and uncertainty, it is my aim as the founder to find alternative ways for the makers and AK to thrive, not just survive.
- Establish a small production studio from home, to work through orders and keep AK Threads financially afloat. Garments would continue to be made with a 3 week lead time.
- Provide support to the women in Tower Hamlets, financially and likewise emotionally. The previous year not only saw makers affected through finance loss but through isolation and lack of motivation.
- Provide the women with income, through a new range of hand-embroidered products in line with AK's Aesthetics.
- This would be achieved through video workshops and samples of embroidered pieces, for them to replicate and create. Subsequently earning a living wage from home.
Hand embroidery is a traditional skill all of our women makers have learned from their respective upbringing and Heritage. This skill and production can be worked on from the safety of their homes and doesn’t require vast amounts of space or equipment.
One of our female makers told us that during the first lockdown, “Embroidery stopped me feeling depressed and gave me purpose each day”.
My aim is to build upon this notion, providing opportunity, whilst creating products that encourage and support this demand.
Furthermore, through this initiative, AK would provide slow made, individual products with attention to detail, and high-quality craftsmanship.
What we need :
- Equipment and machinery to produce made to order items efficiently at home. Continuing our standard of well-made clothing.
- Financial support and investment to propel our new commercial venture; Producing hand-embroidered pieces to support our female makers in Limehouse.
What we will produce:
- Our made to order garments, with free custom alterations from the founders home.
- A new range of hand-embroidered items including but not limited to; Reclaiming garments through sashiko, reusing garment off-cuts to produce applique prints, T-shirts, Homewares, and accessories such as bags. . All made from the safety of our makers' homes.
Where your money will go:
- Industrial sewing machine: £500.00
- Professional steam iron: £300.00
- Overlocker: £300.00
- £1000: To expanding our products and collection, adapting to the needs of our makers during COVID-19. Including sampling, materials, and visual instructions for our women whilst at home.
Aims and outcomes:
- Access and support to employment/ income during Covid-19
- Improved mental health and wellbeing of those isolated and or with low motivation
- Increased collaboration and participation through traditional skills
- Financial inclusion for women from low-income backgrounds
- Support and extended outreach to our local community, during Covid-19
- Long-lasting, individual well-made products.
Why we need our made to order production to continue:
- Our made to order production is our source of income, we depend on this to grow the business. Without this and with no certainty of when the East London studio will reopen, we may have to stop trading.
- Made to order production is vital to reduce waste and allows us to be resourceful, whilst simultaneously providing individual customers exactly what they want.
- When a customer orders from us they can add/ remove details and have the item tailored to their exact measurements/ specifications.
- 30% of each made to order item will go directly back to supporting the women unable to work in Tower Hamlets during this time. Supporting them financially, when many of them haven’t got the security of financial government support at this time.
- A further 15% of each item made will go back into investing in community/ embroidery development and our own sustainable production facility.
AK Threads is an independent, sustainable clothing brand with a focus on community, collaboration, and inclusion. AK produces made to order items with skilled local women, who have previously faced multiple barriers to employment. Each made to order item provides an hourly London living wage.
The first lockdown saw large delays in our made to order production, with many customers, unfortunately, choosing not to purchase, due to the uncertain lead times.
During this time, I refunded multiple orders, as a result of the 4-month closure of the studio. This not only affected AK but the makers who relied on each order for their income.
Once the studio reopened we worked through the backlog of orders at limited capacity, which added pressure on the makers, and customers were kept waiting further.
In this situation and 3rd lockdown, I hope to adapt and evolve the business. I believe it’s important to learn from each situation and provide solutions, whilst adhering to our values at each moment.
We are offering discounted products from our webshop as rewards for each donation. Each reward includes shipping
Please note you can request scrunchies and masks in any fabric from our current made to order collection.
Through your donations, AK will be able to provide opportunity and living wages to our makers through their embroidery talent, while in the safety of the home. At the same time creating contemporary, slow-made artisanal items that celebrate craftsmanship and traditional skills.
Furthermore, we are able to continue our size-inclusive, made to order production with free alterations/ customisation.
We really appreciate everyone who has read through this proposal and hopefully shares AK’S vision and future prospects.
Whatever you can spare, will create a difference and impact. I am beyond grateful to have gotten this far and look forward to sharing our efforts with you all.
Covid-19 has been hard for so many communities and proved difficult to navigate business. Yet I am hopeful that through innovation we will overcome the hurdles, providing support to our makers, whilst continuing to make beautiful, long-lasting pieces.