We began Country of Origin way back in 2014. It's been a topsy turvy journey that has taken us to all sorts of weird and wonderful places. From the backrooms of factories in Grimsby to the bright lights of Tokyo, running our own business has been a mad old journey.
Fresh out of university we had a hair brained idea to start a knitwear brand that updated British knitting traditions from the browns, greys and cable knits of old to something modern and relatable. In our tiny studio flat in Brighton, armed with a start-up loan and Alice’s knitwear degree, we got cracking...
Two years later and we found ourselves in a railway arch in South London. After working our way through a few factories who were struggling for capacity with our order book (thanks Japan!) we foolishly decided we could do it ourselves. So we bought two enormous industrial knitting machines and hired some skilled linkers.
Linking the seams is a tricky business. Each stitch is linked together in painstaking fashion- there are very few factories left that still employ this process.
You can take wrong turns in business folks, and let us tell you now, this was one of them. It turns out making 1000s of sweaters in a tiny railway arch is quite stressful (who knew?)
Fast forward another two years (keep up…) and a LOT of blood sweat and tears, we find ourselves again bursting at the seams and struggling with capacity. This is where our guardian angel turns up in the guise of a retired factory owner from Leicester.
OUR WIGSTON FACTORY
A chance meeting with industry veteran Saïd set in motion a new partnership that saw the opening of The Country of Origin factory in Wigston, pursuing the same values as before but on a much larger scale.
Between them, Saïd and Keith have over 70 years experience in the industry, what they don’t know about knitwear isn’t worth knowing.
A LOUD FACTORY IS A HAPPY FACTORY
The unmistakable noise of knitwear machines at work is a fine thing. We have 12 machines at our Midlands facility and Saïd can only relax when they’re all running smoothly..
Knitwear is woven into the history of Wigston. Sadly, all of the original factories are now closed, but the area is still full of skilled knitwear technicians. Many are now back to doing what they do best at the C.O.O factory.