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Millican: Making the most of brilliant design

Clear thinking gets you a long way in business, and Millican has it in spades.

The company, based at Braithwaite near Keswick, creates “lifelong companions for the conscious traveller and deep thinker”.

Its rucksacks, shoulder bags and duffle bags are high-spec, made from sustainable materials, ethically sourced with high environmental standards. Each is named after local friends.

Millican DaltonEven the business’ name makes a statement. It’s a homage to Millican Dalton, a self-styled ‘Professor of Adventure’ who lived in a cave in Borrowdale in the early 20th century, working as a mountain guide.

Millican’s Mavericks range is a huge commercial success, sold by more than 200 retailers in more than 15 countries.

But its earlier Originals Collection, made from 100% organic cotton canvas, is in need of a refresh.

Founder and managing director Jorrit Jorritsma said: “Since we launched the Originals we have grown as a brand and become clearer as to who is our core target audience.

“We have developed a clear design philosophy and in the last three years we’ve been able to expand into the outdoor retail market.”

He secured a £2,000 grant through our Subsidy Scheme towards the £6,750 cost of employing the services of a design consultant.

Jorrit said: “We are looking to make the Originals more contemporary and improve its performance so it’s more obviously a sister range to the Mavericks. Otherwise we are missing an opportunity.”

Jorrit JorritsmaHe found out about the Subsidy Scheme through a contact at the Department for International Trade.

Following an approach to the Chamber’s Cumbria Business Growth Hub, he was assigned to adviser Sue Howorth who guided him through the application.

Jorrit said: “It was straightforward and it didn’t take long, which was important as we were in a bit of a rush. The Growth Hub were really helpful.”

Following tenders, Millican commissioned Adam Atkinson, a freelance bag designer based in London, to work on the redesign.

“We had worked with Adam before, quite a few years ago,” Jorrit said, “but we found the tendering exercise useful to see who else was out there.”

The new range is due to be launched at the end of next year or early 2019.

MillicanJorrit added: “We wouldn’t have been able to afford Adam without the grant. You can never say never, but something else would have had to give.

“We’re a fast-growing company with a lot of ambitions, and it can be tricky to turn one thing off to get on to something else.”

For more information on how your business can benefit from the Subsidy Scheme, click here or call 0844 257 84 50.

ERDF logoThe Subsidy Scheme is receiving up to £2,528,767 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.  The Department for Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund.

Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information click here.