The founder of Pluck’D Designs talks about finding a gap in the market, connecting with creatives and creating her brand.
Oscar Wilde once wrote that “all art is quite useless” and anything practical must, as a penance for its own usefulness, be hard on the eyes. Thankfully those days are mostly behind us, with form and functionality happily married in a variety of products (many of them stocked by us!) But some industries are still lagging.
For Saffie Pluck, creator of Pluck’d Designs, reflective cycling gear was one of them. As a keen cyclist, Pluck was on the lookout for hyper-visible accessories that would keep her safe when she rode at night but that also didn’t clash with her daytime style. Her Product Design degree from Central Saint Martins stood her in good stead to experiment. “I saw a gap in the market for items that were uber performance, but still looked nice aesthetically and could transform with you throughout the day,” she tells me, “I then started to think about urban city goers as a whole, and found joggers, dog walkers and people in between wanted to wear minimal reflective accessories too.”
One manual knitting machine later, and Pluck had the reflective knitwear range that she’d been looking for. The process begins rather humbly with a ball of specially selected yarn and some reflective tape. The tape is made from small glass beads that have been fused onto nylon. “These beads work similarly to cat eyes on roads,” Pluck tells me, “when a light source is shone on them, they reflect the light back to the source. Therefore if a car headlight shines on someone wearing a Pluck’d Design item, the light will be bounced back to the source, making the wearer highly visible.” The yarn and the reflective tape are then sent off to a mill in West Yorkshire where they are plied together. This step makes it easier for Pluck to knit the materials onto her machine later.
Some of Pluck’s happiest moments as a business owner are going and meeting customers and other makers at markets. “It is such a wonderful and supportive atmosphere, where you get the chance to meet other makers and learn about their journeys. I’ve also met some lovely customers who then come back year after year as well as suggest me to their friends and family.” In fact, it’s been so helpful for Pluck that one of her recommendations for younger creatives is staying connected with your local community and making friends with other designers: “Remember to look after yourself. It can be hard and lonely sometimes as an independent maker.”
“Make sure you do your research and test the market before you fully commit. I found doing local markets very helpful, as it allowed me to see what customers liked and what I should invest more time in. Find a structure that works for you – I tend to need different things to motivate me and keep me interested, hence why I love working as a technician as well as knitting reflective goodies. Working term-time only really helps me to progress my knitwear, and ensures I have a steady income.”