Every once in a while I, founder and CEO of Northern Playground, send out letters giving you an honest peak behind the scenes of the company. We believe that openness is an essential part of being a responsible contributor to society. This is the sixth letter. Read my previous letters here.
1. Revenue 2018
NP sold products worth about €600 000 last year. That makes for a 43% growth from the previous year. As expected, the company still didn't make a profit in 2018.
We have made progress internationally. We're well underway with good partnerships, especially in Germany, the U.S. and Japan. Going foward with growing the company internationally is extremely exciting.
There are currently five of us working at Northern Playground today. One financial manager, one seller, one marketer, one designer and yours truly. Our office is still in downtown Oslo, at the "house of entrepreneurs", Mesh.
4. Made in Tøyen, Oslo
In November we launched the Made in Tøyen, Oslo project. This project has been very inspiring. It was especially great to be on The Daily Review (Norwegian: Dagsrevyen) alongside Zahra and Amina, telling all of Norway how important it is to give people opportunities. Although, we don't want to hide the challenges we faced during the start-up phase. We aspire to deliver a quality and detail awareness that demands a lot from our seamstresses. Luckily things were up and running very quickly, and it's obvious that this project is something we need to keep up. During the next months we will be developing more products and working on professionalizing all parts of the process.
5. Letter to the government
In November I received a front page spot in Today's Business (Dagens Næringsliv, Norwegian only) for my "fight for environmental taxes". I have received nothing but positive feedback, and possibly the most interesting observation is that everyone is so positive. Just a few years ago the suggestion would have been controversial, and I'm not so sure that I would have received as much support. Now it seems like people have acknowledged the fact that radical changes are necessary for the world to survive. Many factors indicate that environmental tax may not be so radical anymore. That's awesome!FYI: I still have not received an answer to the letter I sent the finance minister Siv Jensen and climate and environment minister Ola Elvestuen.
6. Production location
In my last e-mail, I asked for your thoughts on moving parts of our production to China. Thank you for your great feedback! It's impossible not to be affected by the input. Many of you appreciate production in Europe, with the ethical and environmental benefits that follow. Others think that moving parts of the production to China is fine as long as these aspects are insured in China as well. For now, we will be keeping all of our production in Europe.
7. Products 1
We launched multiple products 2018. For example, two new Ziplongs® came to life: Ziplongs® Kids and Ziplongs® Padded. In the organic wool and silk collection we launched new colors, a Hoodie and a bra. Besides the wool and silk bra, everything has been selling well and we have been receiving fantastic feedback. Thank you (check out the bra - it's not selling because nobody knows about it!)! In February we will be launching two new products in the wool and silk collection. Check the Crew Longsleeve out here, and Longs here.
8. Products 2
You may not have thought about, but despite the industry norm we don't change out our collections every year or season. The textile industry is (by some parameters) the industry that emits the most greenhouse gasses after oil and gas. A big reason for this is "fast fashion" - cheap, in style clothing that people only wear a few times. Our planet can't take this consumption pattern. Instead, we should be buying less clothes, made with high quality and with a timeless design. And brands, like us, should stop creating multiple collections per year to push out to consumers. This is why we don't put an expiration date on our products or collections. If we want to discontinue a product or color, we just sell it out - without confining it to a year or season.
9. What now, Northern Playground?
Well, our goal remains unchanged: We started by improving and challenging traditional wool underwear. We will continue challenging and developing clever solutions, and we strive to be an international company that people all around the world come to for fantastic clothing and a new perspective on business. But first, to bring things back down to earth, we will keep growing and start making profit.We're excited for everything ahead!
As always: I love feedback. Give me your thoughts, comments and critique!
Enjoy the cold!!
P.S. I have to say one thing: Guys, the girls figured it out a long time ago. Use wool (and silk) against the skin at work during the winter! A t-shirt or tank top under your shirt makes a big difference.