Jemma is a Meanwhile Creative tenant based at Bristol Bridge House. She gave us some insight into the development of her company, Funi.

The Past

The custom hat company Funi (pron: foo-nee) started 5 years ago as a frantic endeavour to keep me in the Alps. I was working in a French ski resort when I started knitting as a way to scrape together enough money to ride out another snowboard season. I learnt to make beanies on youtube, sold a heap of them and was then inundated with orders. Noticing a bone fide business opportunity I then found and hired some willing grannies to help me keep up with demand. With a top-notch website where customers can design there own beanies online we now make several hundred per winter, along with bigger wholesale orders which are handled by our UK factory.

After 6 years in France, I moved back to the UK to concentrate on the bigger orders and to scale up. It turns out you can’t run a growing British business from a studio bedsit in the Alps. So now I divide my time between Bristol and the mountains.

The Present

Finding Meanwhile Creative was a God-send. It’s allowed me to have my own space, within a sociable building, where I can concentrate on Funi whilst not feeling like I’m in the office on my own. In fact there’s already been a bit of cross collaboration with other tenants. Laura, who makes vintage-style dresses down the hallway has been giving me pattern making lessons, and the guys across the office have put me in touch with a big client. It’s a great atmosphere with Meanwhile Creative. And of course, it doesn’t break the bank! For a small but growing business, not having to worry about bills is great.

The Future

At the moment my small studio for one is fine. But I can see that I’ll have to move to a bigger place next year. Thankfully there’s lots of scope for that with Meanwhile Creative. The new range for AW 14/15 is almost finalised and I’d like to have a bit of a showroom. Plus, it’s almost too busy at Funi – so it’s looking likely I’ll need another couple of staff to take over PR/Marketing and Sales. It’ll leave me with more time to go snowboarding!

"...the guys across the office have put me in touch with a big client."