Monthly Archives: March 2017

The Knitting Pensioners

There are many older people who need, or want, to work, but don’t have the opportunity to do so. That was the problem which the founders of Wooln set out to solve. They set up a company selling accessories that showcase New York women’s fantastic knitting skills. Made from sustainable alpaca, cashmere and merino wool, each Wooln piece comes with a story. A tag attached to the item tells the customer who knitted it and some information about her life.

This looks like a great win-win situation. The company  get an enthusiastic and committed workforce and a ready-made marketing story, and the older workers  get some much needed employment.

If there some way you could utilise the skills and enthusiasm of older workers in your business, so that everyone benefits?

Creating A Safety Map

In Melbourne, Australia, Children’s charity Plan International worked with mapping company Crowdspot to create the Free To Be map.  Free To Be asked women to share their experiences of living and working in the city, pinpointing places on the map where they felt safe, happy or unsafe. The goal of the project was to gather data on sexual harassment and make the city a safer place for women and girls.

The information is being shared with the police service, public transport officials, bar owners, architects, the city council and others.

This seems like a valuable idea and resource for any major city. I’m not sure how you might monetise it, but company sponsorship and advertising seem the most obvious routes.


Hair Loss Profits

It’s no secret that many men lose their hair and aren’t happy about it. It’s not a subject I know about personally (!) but there are all manner of potential solutions to the problem – everything from surgical transplants through to lotions and potions and nutritional supplements. And then there are wigs or hairpieces, which have something of a joke image. I just read about one company that are attempting to change that.

Quiff & Co was founded by Ant & Stevie, a young couple based in Surrey,  After many years of seeing family and friends dealing with hair loss, trying everything on the market,  nothing seemed to deliver a full perfect head of hair.

That led them to develop a range of hair replacement systems aimed at the sort of people who wouldn’t normally be seen dead wearing a wig – young men.  The products on the site look very impressive. I’m unlikely to be a convert, but anyone that can change the image of wigs for men is likely to build a huge business. Perhaps a market to monitor.

Baltimore Trash Wheel

I read about this eco-friendly way of collecting rubbish from a river in Baltimore USA, and wondered whether there may be an opportunity to copy the idea here.

The Inner Harbour Water Wheel, or “Mr. Trash Wheel” to locals, combines old and new technology to harness the power of water and sunlight to collect litter and debris flowing down the Jones Falls River.

The river’s current provides power to turn the water wheel, which lifts rubbish and debris from the water and deposits it into a dumpster barge. When there isn’t enough water current, a solar panel array provides additional power to keep the machine running. When the dumpster is full, it’s towed away by boat, and a new dumpster is put in place.

Shouldn’t there be something like this on every flowing river in the UK? It looks like it ticks all the right boxes to me.

Cycling Gear For Real People

If you’ve ever tried to buy any road cycling gear, you’ll be aware that it is only made to fit people who are either under-nourished or dead. So I was interested to see a brand I hadn’t seen before at the weekend, which not only caters for the more normal cyclist, but does it in a humorous and memorable way.

The brand is called ‘Fat Lad At The Back’ (the name comes from a popular term of ‘endearment’ amongst cyclists) and the logo is prominent on everything they do. In a world where a lot of participants take themselves far too seriously, it makes a refreshing change.

I looked the company up and they seem to be doing very well, with contracts with a number of major retailers including Evans Cycles. Not bad for a company that was laughed out of Dragons Den in 2014.

I think this is evidence of the fact that doing something completely different to the norm can pay dividends in any market. Maybe this will provide a mental springboard for you to come up with an innovative idea in yours.