Published: FEBRUARY 26, 2011
Those of you who know me or who have been along to any of the Vector Partners or Bowshot entrepreneurs groups, will know my enthusiasm for developing niches as a highly effective method of business growth. Well here’s proof that the idea of niches is nothing new.
The very fashionable amongst my readers will know that apparently Fair Isle knitwear is seriously hip at the moment. The theory is apparently that the recession has created a passion for clothes looking home made, solid and built to last (£50 for my elderly wellies anybody?). Apparently just 70 people actually live on Fair Isle itself and better still just 4 of them are knitters. The distinctive style is thought to have been created by survivors of a Spanish Armada shipwreck in 1588. Being handmade takes its toll on productivity – each jumper takes about 100 hours to knit and the Island’s total annual production is just 30 scarves, 30 jumpers and about 200 woolly hats. Better still all the knitters are apparently now in their 70s and 80s. There is apparently fierce argument over what can be described as a Fair Isle sweater. But unlike champagne, for example, no one has yet successfully established the right of those living on Fair Isle itself to trademark their distinctive knitwear. As result, not only do many of many of those knitting by hand in the Shetland and Orkney Islands claim to produce Fair Isle jumpers, but so do other less scrupulous worldwide mass production manufacturers of knitwear.
So there you have it – two business great niche business opportunities. Number one – move to Fair Isle and start learning to knit. Number two, trademark the Fair Isle name.