SEASALT: A FAMILY COMPANY ROOTING FOR CORNWALL

PUBLISHED: 14:55 11 July 2014 | UPDATED: 13:16 30 August 2017

Neil-Chadwick

Neil-Chadwick

It all began on a wet August day in 1981 – when a father and son went hunting for an army surplus parka in Penzance, but the family came away with the shop instead.

Originally selling government surplus clothing and workwear, the General Clothing Store began selling its own designs. A second shop opened in 1996 in Falmouth and it has grown to 16 shops throughout the South West and more than 250 outlets in the UK. Seasalt employs more than 300 people, most in Cornwall and products are often locally-made – including fishermen’s smocks made in St Just.

'Cornwall is a fantastically creative area and it’s been inspiring artists, sculptors and writersfor generations. The environment and the people of Cornwall have shaped the way our brand has designed clothing and represented itself throughout the UK. Without Cornwall there would be no Seasalt!'

The three brothers David, Leigh and Neil continue to work in the company along with their partners and have kept Cornwall and its coastal heritage at its heart. Neil Chadwick tells me their aim is to become Cornwall’s top private employer over the next two years and continue to support the remaining maritime textile traditions both in Cornwall and other coastal areas of the UK.

Neil admits, they saw the potential of Seasalt from the off. “The familyalready had two shops in the Midlands in the trade and we knew the business very well. In fact the rag trade is all we've ever known, and we were very ambitious right from the start.

“We are passionate about the benefits that growing our business can have on the local and national economy.

“Cornwall is inherent to thevision andbrand,” he says. Their design studios look out across Falmouth Bay to St Anthony lighthouse on the Roseland peninsula. “Cornwall is a fantastically creative area and it’s been inspiring artists, sculptors and writersfor generations.

“The environment and the people of Cornwall have shaped the way our brand has designed clothing and represented itself throughout the UK. Without Cornwall there would be no Seasalt!

But it’s far from a one-way street. “We promote Cornish heritage at every available opportunity, whether it be gig rowing, sea shanty festivals, Cornish artistic heritage, beaches, or gardens.

“Ourproducts stays true to the original garments we designed and are very useful for the Cornish environment and way of life."

Our beautiful locationphotography gives us the chance toshowcase Cornwall’s fantastic scenery as well as itshidden corners, andwe includefeatures in our catalogues and on our website on Cornish people like Joe the Boatman on Scilly, crab fisherman NigelLeggewho launches from the beautiful port ofCadgwith, or Cindy, the Jungle Gardener at the Lost Gardens ofHeligan.”

The look developed by Seasalt combines class and function: style with a real Cornish feel, which he says remains vital to their brand. Evidenced in the many Cornish named designs: Pendeen Jumper,TremeddaTop and theSwanpoolTunic.

“It doesn’treallymatter if people don’t necessarily recognise the significance of the garment name,” Neil admits. “But for those who do it can feel like they’re in on something with us and give a real sense of inclusion.

“As well as the physical environment, it’s the culture and heritage of Cornwall that’s key for us too and we show this through initiatives like ourLocally Maderange, where small producers make us things like traditional fishermen’s smocks and canvas

“We promote Cornish heritage at every available opportunity, whether it be gig rowing, sea shanty festivals, Cornish artistic heritage, beaches, or gardens. Ourproducts stays true to the original garments we designed and are very useful for the Cornish environment and way of life."

“For many years we sold a mixture of clothing made by other brands and some of which we had made especially for us. These garments included stripey tops, yellow waterproof jackets and Guernsey pullovers. These functional garments were ideal for the Cornwall, and to this day the influence of these designs can be seen in Seasalt products. We aim for all items that bear the Seasalt nameto be beautifully designed and useful.”

A decade ago, when Neil married textile designer Sophie, he recognised the opportunities within organic cotton garments. “We went to Tanzania, India and Turkey looking for a source. Organic textiles were not well-known at that time but in 2005 we became the first company to gain Soil Association certification on cotton garments.

"With Sophie's design skills and my eye for a business opportunity, Seasaltas a fashion brand was born.

“Right from the start it was important that our approach to business in the most sustainable way possible. We aim to have an impact internationally and at a local level. This is demonstrated through our wide scale use of organic cotton, and the beneficial environmental impact that it has, and also through the support of local charities and small manufacturers. At the same time we still aim to be a cool fashion brand and well-known company throughout the UK and internationally.

“Although Seasalt has grown, the simple way of life that we love in Cornwall still remains at our heart. We talk honestly and openly about the things we love to all the friends we have around the UK and that has created a very strong brand loyalty.”

"Internationally we sell to Japan and the Netherlands and our brand is becoming increasingly recognised with trade on the website growing substantially from around the world. We certainly see the appeal of Cornwall as global.”

The future is bright for Seasalt, which aims to become one of Cornwall’s top private employers, offering jobs at all skill levels. By 2016 they aim to employ 500 people.

“Despite our growth our values remain the same as they did years ago. It is very important to us that we respect our local community, and that all our employees and suppliersshare in the benefits of our growing business.

“Although Seasalt has grown, the simple way of life that we love in Cornwall still remains at our heart. We talk honestly and openly about the things we love to all the friends we have around the UK and that has created a very strong brand loyalty.”

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