It's about a year since I posted about the closure of the Ernest Wright Factory in Sheffield. At the time there were so many messages of love and support for the staff, but it seemed that nothing could stop the closure and we were all sadly resigned to losing this heritage company forever
Except that two customers and Kickstarter-backers, Paul Jacobs and Jan Bart Fanoy, felt that they could not let this happen.
The factory is now back open and producing their best scissors ever! I had a chat with Paul to find out how the next chapter of Ernest Wright history is unfolding. ...
It's amazing to see Ernest Wright back in action after the sad events of 2018. Can you tell us a bit about why and how you went in and rescued the company?
I fell in love with the entire story and products of Ernest Wright. It was not the initial idea to “take over” this factory but it ticked all the boxes of a company you would want to own: Great Brand, Great Quality, Great Heritage, Genuine Story and based in Sheffield, a city world-famous for its quality. When we drove from the Netherlands to Sheffield, our plan was just to buy the stock. But after speaking to the team, we became so enthusiastic, that we took over everything with the aim to save Ernest Wright and write another chapter of the amazing story.How are you doing things differently now?
Throughout the years the focus in the metal industry was on lower prices and higher volumes. Cutting corners was just part of the normal routine. But to me, that is a dead-end street because you cannot and should not compete with low-quality products. Especially when all the knowledge to make supreme quality products resides in-house. After arriving, we learned a lot about how scissors and shears are made the old fashioned way. We also reduced our range of models from 100+ to 3, so we could focus on making perfect products. Now we have 8 models, and more are coming including the thread clips. So our focus has been on consistent high quality and customer service, instead of on volume.
You have retained several of the older and very experienced staff - how will you ensure that their skills will live on in the factory once they retire?
Will they retire? Together Cliff and Eric have been in the scissor industry for more than a century, and they don't look like stopping anytime soon! Next to them, we currently have two guys from Sheffield working for us. There are also 2 Dutchmen who are also learning the craft and helping to mend our machinery. As soon as everyone is up to speed we will begin searching for another person who wants to join the team and become a masterputter.
You must need to split your time going between your businesses - what's the best thing about going to work at the Sheffield factory?
Right now, I'm 100% focused on Ernest Wright. So that's easy. We all have so much joy at the workshop in Sheffield, as we're creating something beautiful. But the best thing is the far-reaching enthusiasm of people around the world: we receive e-mails and letters with their stories, best wishes and encouraging words. Of course, we get local visitors to the workshop, but we also have people from Australia, Korea, Germany, Turkey, really from all over, who come to the shop, chat to the staff and buy a pair of scissors “in person”. I find it unbelievable that there are so many passionate people who are in love with our scissors and shears.
Well, I certainly love mine and I am so happy to be one of the very few retailers who is selling their scissors.
Paul has very kindly donated a pair of 8" Dress Maker Shears as one of our #100actsofsewingjuly19 prizes this week.
Here's how to take part on Instagram:
Always use the hashtag #100actsofsewingjuly19 – THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT!!
plus follow and tag @beyond_measure_uk plus our sponsors this week
For Prize A, a pair of 8”shears from Ernest Wright, you just need to post any finished garment made from a 100 Acts of Sewing pattern.
For Prize B, a fabric prize from Faberwood, post a hack on the 100 Acts of Sewing pattern Shirt No 2 or Pants No 2 (stretch fabric) A hack is your own take or variation using the original pattern as a base. It can be as simple or as complicated as you like.
Please post by 9am GMT Monday 22th July to enter Week 3.
See the blog in (link in my highlights) for full details and how to take part in the 100ActsofsewingJuly Facebook Group.
Good luck everyone and a big thank you to Paul and the Ernest Wright team - we're so glad to have you back!