"...Mr Tanner says the aim is to grow the brand internationally, but first to increase the number of UK stockists. Our current focus is UK stockists. Once we reach twenty we will then look into Europe, America and Asia...”
1) What sort of opportunities do you see for Freedom to Exist in the market today? Where does the brand feel it fits into the industry?
We really wanted to have a product that was well made, with a considered design with our unbranded philosophy. It also had to be honestly and affordably priced. We wanted to create a product that we wanted to buy ourselves as the price point we wanted to pay, which we felt was lacking around the £150 mark.
For our debut 30 Edition (the name coming from its 30mm case), the project was born out of the fact that Kirsty, our Creative Director could never find a watch that she liked that fitted her small wrists that was also free from over-branding. Any watch she previously owned either span or slid up her arm. We spent a lot of time with the prototypes ensuring that the strap catered for the petite, average and larger wrist, and a lot of our early customers and fashion bloggers have said that it's the first watch they have worn that properly fitted them.
The 30 Edition’s success quickly inspired the need for a 40 Edition (a scaled up design with a 40mm case) due to the high number of customers asking if they could buy a larger design for their boyfriend/husband and also from women saying they loved the 30 Edition design but prefered watches with a larger face. Again we followed the close consideration on the strap sizing to cater for both genders and various wrist sizes, and we successfully funded our Kickstarter campaign in April 2016. We sent out the 40 Edition to our backers in September 2016, and the majority of our first customers for this new larger options have come from friends and family of the Kickstarter supporters who saw the watch firsthand, and wished to have their own.
2) What is the company’s retail strategy? What type of retailers are you targeting?
Our early sales come predominantly via our website thanks to our Instagram feed. We were very fortunate to get a lot of followers early on, partly due to the fact we focussed on this social media channel above all others. In our second month and in the run up to Christmas 2015 (we launched in November 2015), we were fortunate to start our association with like minded bricks and mortar brands, as we were conscious it was a vital part of growing our new brand, as it helps build trust with new customers, and also acts a showroom where customers can try on and see the watches first hand.
Our first partners have all been highly respected design led brands such as SCP, Skandium, Barbican Shop and Clerkenwell London, and in the near future we will be able to announce an exciting partnership with a hugely respected clothing brand. Its critical that all new partners share the same brand values as fte. As a new company it has been difficult turning down potential stockists, but a critical decision in terms of building the foundation we wish to grow fte upon.
We do ship our watches globally for any sales from our website, but our current focus is UK stockists. Once we reach twenty we will then look into Europe, America and Asia.
3) What is your key focus and objectives for the brand over the next 12 months?
To raise awareness and to be on people's radar when they are either buying a gift for a loved one or treating themselves to a new watch.
With timepieces, we have the benefit of most customers owning a selection of watches, and often they are often on the lookout for a new brand, or for a new colourway that complements their new shoes, belt or handbag - it would be far more difficult if we were a mobile phone company for example, as people commit exclusively to one product for 2 years. Our aim is to become part of as many people's collections as possible.
People wear watches for a variety of reasons, we have had customers purchase them as a 30th Birthday gift, a treat for themselves to wear on their upcoming holiday and even one customer who took advantage of our free next day delivery as he wanted to wear it for a job interview. Being part of these milestones in people's lives is a great honour, and our aim is to be part of as many stories like these as we can.