We’ve been busy beavering away at the latest issue of Courier, which was shipped off to the printer this week.
Our cover story dives into the massive growth of female-focused workspaces, funds, members’ clubs, coding academies, networking events and newsletters. We explore how they’re transforming the startup scene — and dividing opinion.
Plus: Spotify under the spotlight, travel startups taking off, growing businesses in Istanbul, design in Morocco, the company revolutionising publishing and the challenges of Cheltenham-based brewery Deya.
In 2017, Deya made the decision to buy its own canning line (previously the packaging was being done by an external company). It’s an expensive move — Beavertown Brewery, which has long packed its beer in cans, says it spent £500,000 on its own canning machinery — but Deya founder Theo Freyne reckons it’s worth it to be able to produce on its own terms.
‘Pursuing the best possible product pushed us to invest [in bringing packaging in-house],’ he told Courier.
Last week the Thai chain launched a fully vegetarian pop-up in Soho as a three month trial. It’s the latest in a series of restaurants experimenting with vegetarian and vegan-only menus.
Courier wrote about the potential for veganism to become more than just a niche fad in our final issue of 2017. Foxlow trialled a vegan menu in November, Pret opened its third ‘veggie’ outlet on Exmouth Market a month earlier, and Itsu claims its veggie sales have ‘more than doubled since 2015’.
Restaurants are seeing strong consumer appetite, but it’s also thought that margins are more favourable using vegetables rather than expensive meat products.
This comment piece reflecting on life in a London fintech firm is illuminating.
At the ripe old age of 39, one woman — a mother working at the firm for a decade — asks the columnist about fitting in. The advice is a little glib, but it’s long been known how age-imbalanced tech workplaces are, especially with their products often geared towards 20-somethings.
This Fast Company article talks about the benefits of hiring over-50s.
The travails of J Crew remain a big discussion point in the fashion industry. Part of the fascination involves the affection many commentators had for J Crew, but also how instructive it is for other companies, especially new ones, on what went wrong for such a beloved brand.
It’s soon to shutter 39 shops this month following some torrid financial performance; in the first nine months of last year it accrued losses of £113m.
Richie Siegel reckons rather than churning more of its own-brand preppy staples, J Crew should offer its distribution power to emerging brands which resonate better with younger shoppers. ‘Many of these digitally-native brands are looking to move offline. But they don’t want to start learning, investing and hiring from scratch,’ he says.
An Italian startup is trying to improve mental wellbeing with a cosmetics product. The quirkily-named ‘Oh Yeahh!’ (sic) claims its lip balms include ingredients to change mood. According to the company, the ‘Happiness Boosting Complex’ takes 30 minutes to take effect. Cosmetics companies have been coming under criticism lately for dubious product claims.
Other brands are coming under fire for race-related matters.
L’Oreal thought it was being progressive when it put a hijab-wearing model to front a campaign, only to discover she posted some awful tweets about Israel in 2014. Tarte was the latest to be criticised for failing to cater to darker skin tones. And this Italian brand is in a league of its own when it comes to causing offence.