BLACK COUNTRY PROSPER MAGAZINE

PUBLISHED BY INTERACTIVE MAGAZINES FOR THE BLACK COUNTRY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

©2019 All Rights Reserved. 

Creative Industries Centre, University of Wolverhampton Science Park, Glaisher Drive, Wolverhampton, WV10 9TG

PROSPER MAGAZINE: ISSUE 02 | COVER STORY

CREATIVE ENTREPRENEURIAL AND THE RIGHT KIND OF BAGGAGE

We speak to Paul Jones, founder of Goodstart Jones, the Black Country luggage and baggage label to learn more about his journey and his passion to inspire the next generation of designers.

A lot of baggage isn’t something which instantly conjures up the best images, yet the flair, imagination and determination displayed by Paul Jones mean that many leading retailers are now showing a keen interest in his story.

Destined to design the future generation of luxury cars, Paul Jones, the young, fashion-conscious, luggage entrepreneur and founder of Goodstart Jones in Wolverhampton was all set for a career in the Midland’s automotive sector when a quirky twist of fate drew him towards the world of luxury travel bags.

Growing up in Walsall, Paul aspired to design high end, luxury, futuristic vehicles for the 21st century, following a transport design degree at Huddersfield University.

During his final exams, he created a piece of work which, although was certainly no vehicle, became the spark for his future business journey and a stepping-stone to the start of his company.

Tucked away in creative studios a stones-throw away from the centre of Wolverhampton Paul and his small team now create bespoke luggage designs for buyers around the world.

Formed from an idea back in 2010, following a stint in footwear design and lessons learnt at Sutton Coldfield College, Paul sat working at his kitchen table to create a lightweight and durable bag with a waterproof wooden stability panel.

He called it the Woodsack and in 2013 Goodstart Jones was born.

RETAIL BRICKS AND RETAIL CLICKS

After being approached to set up a pop-up shop in Birmingham’s famous Oasis Market in 2015 for just two months - which turned into two years - Paul introduced his designs to a whole new audience, and, after several approaches from other young and upcoming designers, he formed ‘The Colab’, a collaboration of creatives to offer a range of products designed and manufactured by fourteen young and inspiring designers.

Ill health and the need to get back to his first love of design, Paul moved the business to its current home in Wolverhampton at the end of 2017, with plans to expand the range and build an online presence on the back of what he could see as the impending ‘death of the high street’.

“I needed to get back to designing,” Paul said, “And after forging a mutually beneficial link with another local luggage manufacturer, we pushed ahead to build up Goodstart Jones.”

By this point, the design and innovation displayed by this Black Country creative entrepreneur was also beginning to get noticed and it wasn’t long before the eBay team came knocking at the door and invited Goodstart Jones to take part in the Wolverhampton Retail Revival in 2018, the team, who had never previously sold on eBay, took every opportunity to learn from the online retail masters.

Helping retail businesses to find customers online the scheme, a steep learning curve for Goodstart Jones, helped them to sell to eBay customers across the world and build their brand; a brand built on creativity and freedom of expression.

 “Our products are not just unusual, they’re also fully customisable, with every bag hand made in our Wolverhampton workshop,” said Paul, “We continue our collaboration with up and coming artists to make bags that are ethical and original but I have to admit we struggle to find skilled staff to produce our bags in the local area. We are happy to train anyone who wants to join our journey, but we do struggle to find people.”

Paul also admitted he’s found it hard to step back from his love of design to concentrate on the business side of Goodstart Jones, “Our initial challenge was getting people to understand the concept behind the Woodsack design, but my own personal challenge was to take on board everything required to run the business side; finance, marketing, sales. We have to be reminded by our accountant to hold regular board meetings, it must be my creative brain as opposed to the businessman in me.”

EVERY STEP IS A CREATIVE JOURNEY

Enjoying the increased visibility that comes from being on eBay has led Paul alongside his team, designer Anson Carridice-Davids and Paris Walker-Barnes, illustrator and social media guru, to continue their work to inspire the next generation of Black Country designers.

Data gathered from the eBay sales account has taught the team that their product offering was perceived as good quality but a little pricey, further research showed the top 5 best-selling bags, so armed with the data, Paul and his team set about a new project to work with design students at the University of Wolverhampton.

The Goodstart Jones Project eBay gives university design students a project-based learning module and the opportunity to design and create a travel or carry accessory with a low manufacturing cost that can be sold on eBay.

Paul said, “We trialled the concept in Heath Park School in Wolverhampton with their sixth form students and it was incredibly well-received, the degree students have to take many design factors into consideration, such as the target market, materials, product costs and postage along with fitting their design with our brand image, functionality of the product, its USP and purchase cost.

“By understanding the price issue, our solution was to create a new product range that appealed to the price-conscious consumer but didn’t compromise on quality, giving this opportunity to students, who in a few years time may well be running their own creative industries will benefit them gratefully and stand them in good stead for their future careers.”

SO, WHAT'S IN STORE FOR 2020 AND BEYOND FOR GOODSTART JONES?

Enjoying the increased visibility that comes from being on eBay has led Paul alongside his team, designer Anson Carridice-Davids and Paris Walker-Barnes, illustrator and social media guru, to continue their work to inspire the next generation of Black Country designers.

Data gathered from the eBay sales account has taught the team that their product offering was perceived as good quality but a little pricey, further research showed the top 5 best-selling bags, so armed with the data, Paul and his team set about a new project to work with design students at the University of Wolverhampton.

The Goodstart Jones Project eBay gives university design students a project-based learning module and the opportunity to design and create a travel or carry accessory with a low manufacturing cost that can be sold on eBay.

Paul said, “We trialled the concept in Heath Park School in Wolverhampton with their sixth form students and it was incredibly well-received, the degree students have to take many design factors into consideration, such as the target market, materials, product costs and postage along with fitting their design with our brand image, functionality of the product, its USP and purchase cost.

“By understanding the price issue, our solution was to create a new product range that appealed to the price-conscious consumer but didn’t compromise on quality, giving this opportunity to students, who in a few years time may well be running their own creative industries will benefit them gratefully and stand them in good stead for their future careers.”

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