Becky Okell and Huw Thomas, Co-Founders at Paynter
Join us in the 8th instalment of our Friends With Leafage series where we sit down (virtually) with Becky and Huw, Co-Founders of Paynter. On their first date, Becky and Huw started to talk about the brands they liked and the ones they wanted to see more of. A short while after, they came to the realisation they wanted to create a small and interesting brand of their own, so in comes Paynter. Since 2018, Becky and Huw have taken iconic styles of jacket and re-made them using the best materials they could find. Their jackets are made to order and drop just three times a year in order to create no waste. Each jacket is part of a limited edition batch and is hand numbered in the order that it’s sold. Like many of you, we have admired Paynter for a long time so we’re super excited to hear what Becky has to say about their journey.
Hi Becky and Huw! Thanks so much for joining us on Friends With Leafage today. Before we get started, we’d love for you to share a little more about your brand, Paynter?
Of course! We make jackets, in limited Batches just four times a year. We take iconic styles that have stood the test of time, and re-make them using the best materials and makers from around the world, while making to order so we don’t create waste. We take customers behind the scenes as their jacket is made, so they see who makes it & how, so by the time it gets to them, it feels like an old friend!
You’ve launched a few collections of your product now, and have thousands and thousands of people on the waitlist each time. What advice would you give to a new business wanting to build a strong brand?
Spend as long as you need to get your product as good as it can be. You need to be obsessed with the details and able to take the time to tweak and improve. We both worked in full time roles while starting Paynter, because we didn’t want to put too much pressure on the business before it was ready. Don’t rush, or compromise on quality, you’ll be glad you did things the right way when you look back.
From the beginning, we took over a year to get our product to market, from discussing every aspect of our business model, to meeting the various parts of the supply chain and deciding to remain independent. Despite being excitable I’d really recommend taking your time to make those early decisions, so that by the time you put yourself out there you do things with conviction and know what you stand for and why.
Don’t spend time trying to be original. Read different references and engage with independent thinkers, you’ll soon have original ideas.
We love these answers! Could you give us a quick walk through of your typical daily schedule?
It really varies depending on where we’re up to in our yearly schedule of jacket making!
If we’re about to launch a jacket like we are now with Batch No.7, then we’re planning our photoshoot, briefing models and our photographer Jim, coming up with the ideas for the shoot and the styling. Meanwhile we’re keeping a very close eye on the production of our existing jacket (Batch No.6) getting daily updates from the factory and recording videos to send to customers weekly, tracking their jacket’s progress along the production line. Then every day we have customer service, tweaks to upcoming designs, writing newsletters and occasional press & collaboration meetings. There are just two of us on the team (Huw & I), so it’s always a juggle getting everything done!
Yes! My favourite houseplant is an incredible cheeseplant that’s grown so much since lockdown, I actually need to re-pot it soon! We’ve also got a beautiful Rapunzel / Devils Ivy which was given to me by Dishoom after working at Lost Village Festival! At the end of the festival, they gave away their incredible plants used to decorate the restaurant, and somehow I’ve managed to propagate it and keep it alive since summer 2018!
Describe yourself in one word?
Becky - Doer
Huw - Dreamer
Name a book you’ve read that’s positively shaped you?
Becky - Quiet by Susan Cain
Huw - Let My People Go Surfing
If you could be any houseplant, what would it be?
Becky- It’d have to be the Rapunzel
Huw - Dried Flowers!!! / Anything dried!!
Something you'd love to do more of?
Becky- Travel & visit more makers when the world allows! Or paint
Huw- Play guitar or read
Name your favourite podcast(s)?
Becky- The Modern House’s podcast
Huw- Freakonomics or The Relentless Podcast
If you weren’t doing your current job, what would you be doing instead?
Becky - To be honest, if it wasn’t making jackets, we’d be running a version of Paynter that makes another item of clothing. We’re lucky to love what we do so much, connecting customers with the item they’re wearing and ultimately making sustainability sexy is incredibly motivating. That’s actually why we started Paynter Experiments, because although there’s a never-ending supply of incredible jacket styles to make, we have a few more exciting projects up our sleeves too.