Highlights of 2020
Happy New Year from the Bonnie Binary team. In this First Blog we are going to focus on the all the positives of 2020.
We’re starting 2021 by reflecting on what we achieved in 2020 and taking stock before diving into making plans for 2021 and beyond. So, here’s a roundup of the brilliant things that happened in 2020.
We started with great enthusiasm and excitement after winning a place on the BackHerBusiness programme based at Setsquared Bristol. We received great business support, particularly from my amazing mentor Rosalynne Watt. Thank you Roasalynne you are amazing!
Meeting an inspiring cohort of women entrepreneurs and sharing our experiences with others going through the same journey, was an enormous benefit. The opportunity to work with my mentor really helped me stay focused through lockdown. We worked on commercial milestones, doing the business of the business, launch of our first collection and preparations for Crowdfunding. It was brilliant; I highly recommend applying. Good luck to the 2021 cohort, have fun.
Watch the video of Annie’s presentation here: https://youtu.be/gBaysisEoDY?t=804
Exciting new e-Textile Research Project with European partners
We went to the Worth Partnership conference in Valencia to present our project, with the aim of winning funding. This was just before the first lockdown kicked in, and during the Fire festival! It was exciting and rather noisy too! Lots of fireworks and all-night parties.
I’m happy to say we were lucky to receive our funding and it’s been wonderful working with such an inventive and brilliant team. Our project is called Vibro-Tactile Textiles. It brings together textile design, e-textile sensing & haptic feedback.
The project uses multitouch positioning technology developed by Maurin (see below) in combination with textured textile patterns and haptic feedback to stimulate the sense of touch through a playful sensory experience.
The prototype has just been completed (Hurrah!!!) and the results will be presented very soon, I’ll keep you up to date in our newsletter.
In the meantime, check out the Worth Partnership website. https://www.worthproject.eu/
Our wonderful team:
Anna Blumenkranz E-textile designer
Maurin Donneaud Creative technologist & E-textile developer.
Mentor, Marina Toeters
Receiving an R&D grant to explore the manufacture of eTextile sensors.
Micro-grant from SWCTN for Research into the manufacture of E-textile sensors.
So, for this micro-grant, we were keen to explore scalable manufacturing methods and were lucky to partner up with researchers Dr Russell Torah and Dr John Tudor of Southampton University Electronics & Computer Science department.
We tested the use of printed inks on flexible materials to create a reliable control interface. Here you can see a design for our music cushion showing eight fabric buttons and the accompanying sensor design that will sit beneath the fabric cushion covers.
We collaborated with Smart Fabric Inks to print the proximity sensors on 2 different flexible materials, Mehler fabric PVC coated Polyester mesh and Kapton film. After successful first tests in the studio showing the sensors functioning, we will next embed the sensors in our products and test user experience and functionality.
So, What happens next?
We aim to adjust the sensors for different touch gestures and pressure levels for different needs. We are now looking for research partners and further funding to work on reliable methods to embed the sensors into the cushions, reduce component size and work on mapping the user experience.
Another successful small step towards our ambition to create a simple and intuitive textile control interface for use in our soft, huggable. therapeutic products. Well done team.
For anyone interested in exploring e-textiles, we recommend joining the e-Textile network and E-stitches, both friendly groups of experts and researchers.
We found a new home – Yippee!
We joined The Studio – Palace Yard Mews, a network of Bath innovators and start-ups and made some great new friends. We will be working from the Studio for the next 12 months. (Find us at The Studio at Palace Yard Mews: 10 Palace Yard Mews, Bath, BA1 2NH)
Developing our first Collection of sensory products
Development of our first collection was very much inspired by Lockdown. First, we so wanted to help people who were feeling the stress, loneliness and pressure of lockdown, and secondly to share the comfort of being close to nature in the garden (it was a saving grace for a few members of our team!). We all spent as much time outdoors in the garden as possible.
Whilst doing this, Annie rediscovered her watercolours. The colours shapes and textures inspired the designs for Purdy the Cat and Patch the dog. She really wanted to bring the outdoors in for people who couldn’t get outside.
The growing team of experts, makers and artisans
We are so lucky to be surrounded by a hugely talented hub of artisans and makers in the South West. We would not be able to create our products without this creative eco-system and their expertise.
Thank you team!
Photos above show the core team, from left to right, Jessica the pattern cutter in her studio, in Bristol, Alison under the Lime tree in her garden advising on production methods. The AllsewnUp team in Somerset assembling the first products and Jacky Puzey in her Embroidery Studios in Bristol. (Photo by Jo Hounsome)
Launching our first Sensory Cushion Collection
We chose to launch our first collection with the support of BackHerBusiness on Crowdfunder. Wow! Happily, we were successful in raising money for the production of our cushions and in getting our products to market via our new website.
Many, many thanks to our wonderful supporters, new friends and followers and of course the amazing Bonnie Binary team behind the scenes.
Our first experience of Crowdfunding
What a roller coaster! We want to do it again! It is wonderful, to at last after all the preparations connect with our customers and have feedback on our products. We’re loving it!
Comments from our supporters and first customers
“Your cushions and textiles are beautiful, completely original and so soothing to hold” – Louise
“your products of great value to people in need of comfort” – Ron
“Wishing you much success with your beautiful work and that the products bring relief and joy for many people” – Sara
“What a wonderful idea and a genuinely upbeat approach” – James
Our online shop is now open!
We have had our first customers, which is so exciting! 2021 will be about building on these good foundations.
Creative Scale Up funding to grow our business.
We’re so excited to have this opportunity to join a cohort of brilliant, creative companies in the South West and work with my mentor Ben Dair, on scaling up the business. We are working on the Marketing Plan for 2021 and beyond, setting the business up for the future – planning for this year and the long term. The peer-to-peer support with other creative businesses is brilliant, it’s so reassuring to feel you’re not alone on the journey, and that there are so many ways we can help each other by sharing little snippets of knowledge and experience.
We will be rolling out the marketing plan any day now! Exciting times ahead!
We can’t believe how much we have actually achieved in 2020. We’ve been busy, but we plan to achieve far more in 2021. Thanks go to the many people that helped our company innovate and scale up in 2020.
It’s wonderful where collaboration, expertise & enthusiasm can take you! We have grown out of the exciting creative industries Eco-system of the South West and particularly the unique City of Bristol and now Bath; we are here because of you.
THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU EVERYONE.
Please stay on board for the journey, we are here to build a business for the long term, to make a positive difference and enjoy the journey.