Blog > Site of the Month: Thrashion
Posted By Create
In September's Site of the Month, we chat to Thrashion founder and skateboarder Nat Rigby about her fantastic online shop, her unique business idea, how she achieved press recognition and worldwide stockists and the work she does with professional skateboarders and charities.
Taking a look at the number of film remakes on at the cinema and how many cover versions and remixes you hear in TV ads these days, it's clear to all that we're now firmly in the age of recycling.
Online business and Create shop Thrashion knows this better than most; but instead of turning broken skateboards (or "thrashed decks", to use the vernacular) into soulless rehashes, this company reincarnates each scrap of wood into stylish and unique homewares and fashion accessories for men and women.
This is upcycled 'street style' in the most literal way; every item is borne of a spectacular wipeout in which a thrill-hungry boarder has found their pride and joy ground into the ground.
But first let's take a quick look at Thrashion, the online shop where Nat sells and promotes her amazing creations.
As soon as you hit the Thrashion Home Page you're greeted with a bold logo, great photography and a custom-made video showing how these boards get thrashed in the first place. It's an entertaining and exciting clip which wisely ends not only with details of her website but also of Thrashion's presence on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
From the Home Page right through to the expertly laid out Terms & Conditions page, this site is full of colourful and stylish photography. Frequent close-ups of worn boards give the visitor a glimpse into the materials Nat works with, products are photographed well on plain backgrounds that really make the items stand out and her models and shoot locations fit perfectly into her key demographic and help to deliver a trendy, youthful brand image.
It's a vibrant, exciting and easy-to-navigate site that uses a plain background to let images and text tell the company story and sell the wares.
Jewellery, accessories and homeware made of recycled skateboards is a brilliant and unique idea, so where did it come from?
"The idea came to me when I fell over a pile of mine and my husband’s old skateboards which we were hoarding in our attic," Nat (pictured above) says. "I was already making upcycled jewellery and it just seemed the perfect progression. I’ve been making these goods since 2007 but the business really took off in 2009 when I started my online shop. I started off selling through Etsy and Folksy but as the business grew I found it difficult to keep up and decided to open a shop with Create. I've never looked back!"
With the jewellery and accessories market filled with sellers, Nat understands that it's important to stand out and have a product your customers can't get anywhere else.
"I think it’s definitely an asset to have a unique concept or selling point with your business," Nat tells us. But even a unique and successful product isn't enough for the forward-thinking business owner: "I have a firm understanding of my demographic but it would be nice to find different audiences and perhaps step out of my comfort zone a little bit. We've recently been doing a lot of partnership projects to do just that, teaming up with other artists and companies to create something a little different to keep ahead and to ensure we’re constantly evolving. I think this is another reason why my company is so unique: we’re not scared to try something different. I'm always creating."
Thrashion not only uses Create to sell directly to customers but it acts as an online shop window for stockists looking for quirky and stylish goods to sell. Through her site, Nat has managed to get her products sold in 18 locations worldwide. Unusually, it didn't take a whole lot of effort on Nat's part to get these stockists (though an embedded digital catalogue for prospective stockists to leaf through can help).
"The stockists got in touch through my Create website without any contact from me. It’s always very flattering when this happens!" says Nat. "I recently had a meeting with a business mentor and he was shocked at how little ‘chasing’ I did in my business, which has made me realise that my business is a lot more stable than I thought and that if I put in a little more effort it could be even more successful."
As with any modern online business, social media plays a big part in getting the word out about the company and its products.
"I feel that Thrashion’s worldwide recognition is partly to do with our social media presence. I'm very good at using social media, especially Instagram, to widen my network and I've made some amazing contacts through that and Twitter. A good social media campaign is an asset to any business."
Nat's products appeal to a wide-ranging audience, so it makes sense that her products have been featured in everything from skateboard and women's magazines to craft blogs and radio. But her impressive list of press features hasn't come by accident!
"It’s hard work, but you don't get anything without asking!" she tells us. "I'm generally quite cheeky and will send an email asking for a feature! A lot of the people I contact are very kind and are very willing to help a small business to get noticed. I think a really good tip is to have a ‘submission’ email ready that you can send out to potential publishers with some good quality images.
"Journalists are generally very busy so the easier you can make it for them the better. I use the #JournoRequest hashtag on Twitter. This is where journalists and bloggers post information on articles that they're working on or that they might need help with. I found out about it in Autumn last year and in the run up to Christmas I found Thrashion in lots of Christmas gift guides, which was awesome!"
Even with worldwide stockists clamouring for her attention and regular press exposure Nat doesn't rest on her laurels, working with charities to help the skateboard community as well as the wider world. "I always call my business a DIY business as I started off with nothing and have built the business from the roots up. I think this is a common ethos in skateboarding and I've met some really amazing and supportive people in the industry.
"I make sure to support at least one charity event every year. The first one was my auction with Lucy Adams where we worked with Leo Sharp to photograph a ‘skateboarding fashion shoot’ which had apparently never been done before. The photographs and lots of product donations were auctioned at the end and we raised lots of money for a really great charity. Last year’s charity was Skateistan, where we supported a skateboard art auction, and this year we’re supporting the Save The Southbank campaign."
Nat also recognises the power of celebrity in a brand, and has enlisted pro skateboarder Emma "Tinyhands" Richardson to help create items for Thrashion's Pro Series ("The fabrics are designed and printed by Emma and the handles are made from skateboards by me. This is also something that has never been done before! Like I said - always creating!"), as well as using the smashed and thrashed decks of pro boarders to make truly unique one-offs.
Thrashion is a success story that really shows how far you can go with an original idea and a great website. Thanks to Nat for taking the time to chat to us. Here's hoping skateboarders continue to wipe out spectacularly for many years to come. At least they can do so knowing there's life after death for their much-loved boards - maybe that will help on the ambulance ride.
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