Posted on September 24 2020
We chat Caroline from Conquer Lake District, a one women business who is killing it!
What made you start your business, Conquer Lake District?
I never intended to start a business. I bought a camper van, and whilst it needed tyres and seatbelts all I was interested in was kitting it out with stickers and fairy lights, you know, the essentials! I couldn’t find anything cool that represented my local area, the Lake District, so I made them myself.
Our first lot of sample patches arrived just in time for the Keswick Mountain Festival. I bagged myself a last-minute slot thinking this was going to be amazing and I’d sell out on my debut. We sold next to nothing! I was devastated but absolutely convinced that I had a good idea. So, I approached a load of retailers and told them we’d sold out at the festival! Everyone wanted on board and within a few weeks we had around 35 stockists, and the best part was the patches were selling like crazy. We couldn’t keep up, we were constantly running out of stock, people loved them!
There’s my top tips for start-ups, perseverance and lies! In all seriousness though, I work with the most amazing local businesses. If you’re reading this, sorry guys, and remember it all worked out for the best!
Talk me through a typical day for you?
Conquer has been going for a couple of years now and is still a very small, one-woman business. My days are pretty busy as I do everything myself. A typical day would include fulfilling retail and webshop orders. I love packaging up website orders and creating an experience for people when they receive them. There’s the boring stuff like emails, invoicing, and paperwork. Then there’s designing, product development, and getting out onto the fells. This is where my inspiration and research happens and of course where most of our marketing content is created. I’m lucky to be able to class idly roaming the Lake District as work! I should probably insert Social Media into the gaps between all the above jobs as I check it far too many times a day!
We love the concept behind your business, what inspired you?
A real love for where I live is what inspires me. The Lake District is one of the most incredible places you will ever visit. It has such a buzz about it as new generations of people arrive to do really cool stuff, mountain biking, climbing, paddle boarding, wild swimming, wake surfing, it’s a real adventure capital today. Of course the popularity of the Lakes puts huge pressure on the landscape, which is why it was important to build a brand that both encourages people to get outdoors and supports the National Park. We donate 5% of all profits back to projects that protect the local landscape. Everyone who buys from us becomes an advocate for the preservation of the National Park.
We love the embroidered patches you design and sell, what’s your favourite Zap! Product?
Do I have to pick just one?!
I love our compass pin badge. Using the acrylic we were able to recreate a lifelike compass in miniature. The ironic statement “Not a clue to be honest” is something that I reckon most people can relate to at some point. We’ve had people buying them as gifts for newly qualified Mountain Leaders which is just perfect!
I have to quickly mention our Eco sticker sheets too. They turned out amazing. We don’t sell these, we gift them to kids who have featured on our social media as inspirational young hikers. They’re really fun and include positive messages about caring for the environment. I love sending these out.
What are your future plans?
There are lots of new products in the pipeline. We are working with some amazing businesses that share our old school aesthetic and values of what it means to be a small independent business. Of course, our patch collection will continue to grow as there are so many people invested in it now. However, I think 2021 will be the year that we focus on the younger generations of adventure seekers. We have so much interaction with young families and kids who love the outdoors and that has inspired our future plans. I think that was suitably vague enough!
We would love to come on a Lake District adventure, what’s your favourite thing about the National Park?
You absolutely should come on a Lake District adventure!
I’m Cumbrian and have lived within view of the mountains all my life. Yet the place still manages to take my breath away and make me feel small, such as the sheer scale and beauty of the place. The views of mountains and lakes never get old or become “the norm.” First-time visitors wouldn’t believe they were in England (until the weather kicks in!) That’s my favourite thing.
How can people go on a Lake District adventure and use your products?
The Lake District has adventures to suit everyone and we create mementos for some of the most daring hikes right down to the ones that require little more than a pair of trainers. The National Park is free, come along, have fun, stay safe and when you summit that mountain, a sweaty mess, having been overtaken earlier by a child wearing Crocs, you will feel fully deserving of your Conquer Lake District hiking patch.
Where can people buy your wonderful products and find out more?
We have almost 40 stockists across the Lake District where you can pick up a patch whilst out and about. Our stockist list is on our website www.conquerlakedistrict.co.uk where you can also buy our products and find out more about how we support the National Park. Or you can slide into our DM’s @conquerlakedistrict