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Dover & Wight homepage

It’s been a labour of love, one fitted in to full-time work and two demanding (but rather lovely) children. But finally the web site is live.

With our first small but perfectly formed selection of products set to grow over the coming weeks and months, all we need to do now is a bit or marketing. I guess this is where the hard work begins!

So, if you know anyone who might be interested, you can find us here: Dover & Wight

Despite hiking many miles up and down the aisles of trade fairs in the last few months, it still seems our best finds are from further a field.

Thomas Paul is a New York designer who’s applied his distinctive graphic style to everything from lighting to stationary. But the designs that really excited us were his sea life series.

And more specifically his sea life melamine plates (and trays and coasters).

The plates feature incredibly intricate designs of a variety of sea life, from turtles to crabs, and are really bought to life with incredible vibrant colours.

for the full range of Sealife dinner plates, side plates, coasters and the tray, you’ll have to wait until the shop goes live.

Thomas Paul - Sealife Crab melamine dinner plate

Thomas Paul - Sealife horseshoe melamine dinner plate

And the tray is fantastic.

Thomas Paul - Sealife turtle melamine tray

We also really love his coral series. These pink and white designs are really vibrant. As to whether we’ll stock the coral plates, we’re not yet sure. Leave us a comment and let us know what you think.

Thomas Paul - Coral melamine plate

Thomas Paul - Coral melamine plate

So we have our first product! And it’s so perfectly right. In fact it’s partly the reason we started this project in the first place (can you tell I’m excited?).

I’ve been looking for a weekend duffle bag made from sail material for some time. And while I’ve seen a few vastly over-priced and over elaborate versions out there, none had the simplicity and more importantly the price tag I was looking for.

So my search was extended beyond these shores and eventually I came up trumps with these beautifully made bags in Nova Scotia.

Hand-made using new quality professional racing sailcloth, no two bags are the same. Whether the sail numbers, the colour of the numbers or the nautical zig zag stitch, each bag has an individual touch.

What’s great about this find is that the bags come in three different sizes. And they don’t stop at duffle nags. We’ve also decided to stock messenger bags, bucket bags and shaving kit bags, all produced in exactly the same way.

Large sail cloth duffel bag

Large sail cloth duffel bag

While the duffel bag was what we were looking for, we love the bucket bag. Perfect for a trip to the beach.

Large sailcloth bucket bag

Large sailcloth bucket bag

And I think the messenger bag may become home to my laptop.

Sailcloth messenger bag

And if that wasn’t enough… we couldn’t resist the sailcloth shaving bag. A step too far? Surely not.

Sailcloth shaving bag

Birmingham NEC - Not exactly inspired by the coast

There are no instructions for how to start a a retail business but our thinking was, “Surely it can’t be that difficult, people do it all the time”.

And to some extent we’re being proved right. There haven’t yet been any show-stopping moments where you suddenly realise you’ve missed something that means your whole endeavor will crumble around you. I’m not saying it won’t happen, it just hasn’t happened yet.

However, there are plenty of roadblocks, points where you think, “What do we do now.” And the first one we encountered was trying to work out where we could find suppliers for all the great products we wanted.

We had our eyes on a few really interesting pieces that different retailers already had. But would they tell us who supplied them? Of course not. We’ve learned pretty quickly that the real value is in having products no one else sells, so the last thing anyone will tell you is where they get their products.

To be brutally honest, we were a bit stuck! Until someone suggested trade fairs. Five minutes of quality time with Google highlighted a whole bunch of trade fairs seemingly worth visiting. It felt like we’d hit a gold mine, the answers to all our problems under one roof (usually the rather big roof of the NEC in Birmingham).

I’d never experienced a trade fair before. Now I feel like a veteran. And here are my top five tips for beginners:

  1. Realise that most of what you see will be irrelevant. Or just tat; acres and acres of tat in some cases.
  2. Take a bag. All those leaflets soon stack up.
  3. Think laterally. Look for companies that aren’t obvious, you’ll find the most interesting things off the beaten track.
  4. Be prepared to walk miles. Those aisles are long and go on for ever.
  5. Do your research before you go. You can work out who’s worth a visit from their website. I didn’t, I regret it!

My take on trade fairs? Worth a visit but not necessarily the answer to the problem. Especially if you want something different.

So where do we start? Well I’m sure there are better ways of approaching this, (writing business plans, setting up bank accounts, developing marketing plans and of course spreadsheets) but for us it’s got to start with finding the right products.

The first few products we sell will be those that define us. They will be what separate us from the crowd. It’s suddenly a surprisingly daunting task.

We’re determined that Dover & Wight isn’t about nautical clichés; no brass portholes, weather beaten anchors and wooden fish on sticks. It’s about achieving a balance of classic designs we remember from our childhood with modern pieces that really excite us.

So this blog will be dedicated to our hunt for the wonderful pieces that inspire us. We’ll avoid boring you with the complexities of ecommerce backends and the intricacies of minimum orders. We’ll keep it focussed on the important stuff. Pieces inspired by the coast.

Youngest member of the family

Youngest member of the family

Dover & Wight is here! Well, the blog is here.

What else do we have? A name derived from the shipping forecast and the coast we know best, the seed of an idea and the belief that there is nothing like escaping to the English coast for a weekend.

And of course inspiration. Inspiration from our own little bolt-hole on the South coast. When the sun is shining and the wind is blowing it doesn’t require a multi-million pound mansion on Sand Banks to make the most of it.

For us a glorified shed without the luxuries of electricity and running water provides the perfect base for a lifestyle that combines the best of old fashioned values.

Dover & Wight is our project to create a business selling the things we love. Things that help re-create that lifestyle, wherever your seaside escape is.

Welcome to Dover & Wight

Our project to start a business selling the things we love.

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