Connecting with Bermudian pride
On a chilly day Shannon and Lindsey Philpott’s handiwork pops up all over Bermuda — hoodies with BDA or Devil’s Isle printed on them, T-shirts, woolly hats carrying a Bermuda map design.
The couple started BermuniTees five years ago to offer Bermuda themed products.
“We wanted to make locals feel like they had a product made for them,” Mr Philpott said. “It was not that there was a lack of Bermuda-themed products, but there were none that captured a local perspective and connected to Bermudian pride in the way that we wanted to or offered the higher quality that we aimed to achieve.”
The response from the community has been positive since the day they started. BermuniTees’ products are popular with visitors, but the bulk of their customers are locals.
Since 2015, the Philpotts have gained more control over the manufacturing process.
“We started out printing our designs on pre-made blank T-shirts,” Mr Philpott said. “Now we choose everything from the fabric to the cut to the finishings on the product,” Mr Philpott.
They are also doing a lot more business to business sales.
“We have done some collaborations with some schools,” Mrs Philpott said. “We just finished one with Saltus Grammar School to help them launch their new logo. Now we are working with other schools and some hotels, to grow a little bit that way. We’ve done jerseys for the FC Rhinos in the Corona league.”
Mrs Philpott said one of their big challenges has been shipping.
“It’s the logistics of a small island,” she said. “We have a lot of online inquiries from Bermudians living abroad in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, and we are currently working on getting our shipping rates down so we can better serve those customers.”
Their retail partners include Brown & Co, the duty free shop LF Wade International Airport and Luxury Gifts Bermuda.
Mr Philpott previously worked at the hospital, and Mrs Philpott in marketing. They went full time with BermuniTees in November 2018.
“It was scary to make that transition,” he said. “In the beginning you tend to want to continue to work after 5pm. As you continue, you realise you have to make time for your family, as long as you set aside specific times to do certain tasks.”
After the couple had a daughter, Isla, in 2017, they had to learn to delegate a lot more.
“I would say, I have her, you go do this,” Mrs Philpott said. “We’d delegate that way. We have been learning which aspect of the business each of us does better at. I focus on design and creating new product ideas. Shannon focuses more on inventory, the back end.”
Mrs Philpott said social media, particularly Facebook and Instagram, has been extremely important to their business.
“We also have a pop-up shop every November in the Washington Mall,” she said. “That is when we get a feel for our customers hands on. We are surprised that the variety of customers that we have.”
They thought about opening a physical store but the cost was too prohibitive. Instead, they’ve focused on wholesale, online sales and their annual popup.
“We have been able to grow in that way,” Mrs Philpott said.
Mr Philpott said they were grateful for continued local support.
“Without that our businesses wouldn’t be growing and we wouldn’t be able to do what we do,” he said.
Every year they donate part of their proceeds to charity. So far they have given to the Family Centre and they are getting ready to give to the Reading Clinic.
“We hope to do more,” Mrs Philpott said. “As we have been growing we have had more spending.”
For now, they are focused on keeping their products special to their customer base.
“It is about being able to offer something that is just a little bit unique,” Mr Philpott said. “It is about being able to offer different colours or better quality that allows us to differentiate ourselves.”
• For more information, visit www.bermunitees.com
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