Motorway at night

Case study: Eco.lure

Rebecca Lyall from Whitehaven is the owner of sustainable clothing company, Eco.lure. Rebecca used Cumbria Business Growth Hub’s Business Start-Up Support (BSUS) to get Eco.lure started in 2022. Now over a year on we check in to see how the business is going.

Rebecca initially decided to start her own business to give her the option to work flexibly and spend more time with her family.

“I’m a single parent so I wanted to be able to attend school meetings and plays and just have that flexibility. I don’t mind working late into the night if I have to!”

We set Rebecca up with Growth Hub business adviser Juan Carlos Valenzuela. Her initial idea was to develop an eco-friendly air freshener which would attach to a radiator. The heat from the radiator would activate the air freshener and release the scent around the house. However, talks with her adviser unearthed potential issues with this idea…

“I realised that there would only be sales during the winter because you only use the radiator during these times […] I needed something that would generate an income all year round.”

Juan encouraged Rebecca to focus on her strengths. She was passionate about the environment and had a lifelong interest in textiles which started when she was growing up in Brazil and would spend time at her uncle’s textile factory. This led her to the idea of launching a sustainable clothing company.

Juan then helped Rebecca develop the idea further and put together a business plan, competitor analysis and cashflow.

“I would say that the support I have received from Carlos was essential to help me critically think about every aspect of my business, such as USP, added values, competitor analysis, cash flow, forecasting, to name a few, these have been essential in shaping my business, and giving me a clear vision and understanding of every aspect of my business, which again has been essential as this has assisted me to make informed decisions and considerations to improve every aspect of my business.”

In the early days of her new business Rebecca worked hard, selling her products via her website and social media and at local markets. This paid off when she was asked to make uniforms for several local businesses including Tot Spot and Citizens Advice.

More recently Rebecca has signed a deal to supply the Rum Story Museum in Whitehaven. Eco.lure tote bags and aprons can now be purchased inside the museum’s shop.

The sustainability element is key to Eco.lure’s brand. All products are either made from recycled polyester or regenerated or organic cotton from ethical producers. The designs are then embroidered or made from biodegradable vinyl.

Eco.lure even embeds its biodegradable tags with lavender seeds which the customer can plant in the garden after use.

“The tags are a part of our value proposition. Once you take them off you can plant them. This helps to reduce waste and creates flowers for the bees and butterflies. Wildlife and nature are also important for improving people’s mental health.”

Another of Rebecca’s ideas to make her products more sustainable was to offer customers a discount code for returning an item of clothing at the end of its life to be recycled.

However, after doing some research she discovered that there are no textile recycling plants in the UK. Most of the UK’s recycled textiles are exported to Ghana were they eventually end up in landfill.

In an effort to solve this problem, Rebecca has started working with the Universities of Cumbria and Manchester to develop a business case for a textile recycling centre in Cumbria.

To learn the skills necessary for this project Rebecca is moving to Cambridge to study Robotics and Mechatronics Engineering. She hopes to return to Cumbria in the near future.