Operation Make

Operation Make

Company of Makers help ex-Service personnel and their families who are struggling with life on Civvy Street.

We did it!

On 10th Apr 2018 we successfully raised £3,343 of £2,000 target with 44 supporters in 27 days

New stretch target

If we reach our stretch target we're aiming to purchase an industrial ironing system and a fabric steam cleaner. This will help enormously when working on uniforms and bringing them 'back into service'. 

Thank you to everyone who has supported us so far - Fingers crossed!

About the Company of Makers

We design and make products inspired by the British military's influence on pop culture - Think of Sergeant Peppers or the MOD's and the RAF roundel, then you'll be in the right ball park. From trench coats to duffle coats, khaki to navy blue, sailor collars to camouflage fabric. Military chic is everywhere, as influential as ever and as cool as ever.

Our Hotwalls studio is in the heart of Old Portsmouth and is part of the city’s historic military fortifications. This unique heritage location based in the home of the Royal Navy is the perfect inspiration for our military inspired creations.

The purpose behind all this creativity is to help fund making workshops for ex-Service personnel and their families who are struggling with life on civvy street.

Meet the team

Company of Makers (CoM) was created by Rachel Olivia Owen (ROO) and Steve Bomford.  

In a galaxy far, far away, a long, long time ago (well, Liverpool), ROO was running a social enterprise, working with women recovering from anxiety and depression, when Steve Bomford phoned her… 

ROO was running workshops teaching women how to ‘make-do-and-mend’ – y’know, unpicking vintage stuff from charity shops and sewing it into something new and shabby-chicing old furniture.  Quickly, it became apparent that whilst people were busy working with their hands, it became easier to chat and the banter started, complete strangers soon developed a sense of camaraderie, building relationships.

Rewind back to that phone call.  Steve asked, 'Would the work you do with the women in Liverpool work with Veterans?’ to which ROO replied , ‘Stephen.  It will work with PEOPLE’.  

You see, Steve was at an ‘Armed Forces Community Covenant Fund’ event at HMS Nelson in Portsmouth and thought a spot of collaboration might be the order of the day.  ROO and Steve both loved the idea of working with Veterans and decided to ‘give it a go’, so applied to the fund … and they got it!  ROO’s social enterprise became ‘militarised’, reusing reclaimed uniforms, and CoM was born.  Working with Veterans was so rewarding and so much fun that it became CoM’s reason to exist.

Company of Makers exists to help Veterans and their families who are struggling to transition from military to civilian life, no matter how long ago they left the Forces.   CoM were invited to a reception at No. 10 in recognition of their work supporting our military community.  The ambition is to sell their unique, military-inspired products in Liberty and most importantly, to become the exemplar in how we look after our Veterans in the UK.

Why making is important

In an exclusive interview with the Company of Makers, Lieutenant Colonel Neil Stace, a finalist on the BBC's Great British Sewing Bee, talks about the power of sewing.

"You are in the moment, you are focused. You are not thinking of the past, you’re not thinking of the future and you are creating something. A lot of people who suffer from issues of wellbeing are always worrying about the future or the past and they don’t believe they can create anything."  - Lieutenant Colonel Neil Stace (The Sewing Soldier)

What are we crowdfunding for?

We're raising funds to purchase equipment in order that we can meet growing demand for our existing products and bring to market our ideas for new products.

Our Rewards

All our products are either made from reclaimed military fabrics/materials or take direct inspiration from the British military. From a hesian shopping bag adorned with a splash of sailor chic to wooden tea light holders made from gym bars salvaged from a military hospital, a sailor inspired cushion to childrens' camo teepee and reclaimed uniform mini cushions to commissioned cushions made from heritage fabrics - We're constantly inspired by military stuff!

What our customer says

'Incredibly high quality product with a superb business ethical commitment to supporting Veterans. The wonderful customer service at the heart of the shopping experience makes this is a small business I thoroughly recommend to all.'

'A photo can’t convey how beautiful they really are. The skill that goes into creating them is incredible.' 

'Truly amazed with the excellent quality of workmanship. So pleased. I cannot thank Rachel and team enough.' 

Commissioned Cushions

Our commissions are all lovingly made from military uniforms by our team of talented makers in our Hotwalls Studio in Old Portsmouth.

So, if you have some uniform hiding in a wardrobe, or in the loft, why not let us put it back into Service?

How it works

Make an appointment, either in person or over the phone, for your free design consultation and we'll discuss what you’d like us make, usually a cushion, apron or bag – We can show you examples in our studio to inspire you. Then we will have a good look at the uniform you’ve brought in and consider how to work with it to show the detailing at its best.

If you're happy to proceed we'll go through the pricing and payment terms, timeframes for making and the T&Cs of commissioning a bespoke product from us. 

Finally, we'll take a deposit and get started on your hand-drawn design illustration, once that's signed off we'll start making your commission. Upon completion you can collect from our studio or we'll arrange a courier.

Find out more about our commissions here.

Sailor Cushions

Our sailor cushions draw inspiration from the Royal Navy’s classic sailor collar.  The design’s clean lines and striking combination of navy blue and bright white produces a crisp finish, evoking the timeless image of sailors and the high seas.  We use the same striped cotton ribbon as the Royal Navy, still woven in the UK.



Camo Teepee

Introducing our Children's Camo Teepees – Made to order from Desert DPM camo with an accent of orange. Complete with custom name badge, floor cushion and, of course, flags!

We have a very limited supply of this camo fabric so if you’re interested please pledge to avoid disappointment. If you’d like to customise your Teepee give us a shout and we’ll see what we can do.

Please note: castle wall and beach is not included. Unless of course you happen to own your own castle and beach!

From left to right:  Hunting Stewart Tartan mini cushion, Black Watch Tartan mini cushion, RAF mini cushion.

From left right:  Army Sergeant mini cushion, Army mini cushion, Desert Camo shoulder bag.

From left right:  Royal Haslar operating theatre 'Room In Use' sign, Royal Haslar tea-light holder, Sailor shopping bag.

The Royal Haslar Hospital in Gosport is a piece of British military history, where military medical staff cared for sailors from the Napoleonic wars, later looking after Army and RAF personnel too.  The cure for scurvy was discovered there!  It's where the expression 'up the creek' comes from.  There's even been a Time Team about it.  The elegant 18th century Georgian buildings still stand today, but no longer serve as a hospital.  The 'Military March Out' date was the end of March 2007, when 245 years of continuous military medical care came to an end.  Here's your chance to own a little piece of the illustrious and much-loved Haslar, and help Veterans and their families who are struggling to transition back into civilian life after leaving the Forces.

These are our prototypes re-using vintage 'Trews'! 

From left right:  Hunting Stewart Tartan Bag - with Button Detail,  Hunting Stewart Tartan Bag - with label Detail. 

We're calling this style of bag our 'Boat Bags' because the shape is inspired by traditional clinker-built wooden boats.  

Each bag is unique.  

As with the Black Watch bags, the 'Button Detail' style includes the old fashioned button 'fly front'.  'Label Detail' style features the uniform's MOD 'stock label' - due to varying age, style and size of uniform, each label is printed with different information, e.g. 'Trews', 'Size 4' (military mens' sizing), the military stock number, space to write the wearer's name and service number.

These are our prototypes using vintage 'Trews'! 

From left right:  Black Watch Tartan Bag - with Button Detail,  Black Watch Tartan Bag - with label Detail.

The timeless classic 'Black Watch', traditional, woven woollen tartan.

Retaining the natural qualities and character of each pair of reclaimed Scottish Army Regiment Trews.


Thank you

We really appreciate your interest in our work if you're unable to make a pledge you can still help us by spreading the word. 

Finally, If you ever find yourself in Portsmouth feel free to pop in for a wet or a brew (That's military parlance for a cuppa). Failing that, you can always visit our website or find us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.


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