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We Drifters case study

We Drifters is a York-based premium clothing brand specialising in bamboo sleepwear with anti-insect technology to help keep bugs at bay. We Drifters founder, Naudia Salmon, first came up with the idea when travelling around South East Asia, exploring locations previously unknown to her. The place was infinitely beautiful, however one thing kept bugging Naudia - insects. Tired of spraying insect repellent, wearing restrictive head nets and squeezing into sleeping bag liners, she came up with an idea to create pyjamas with anti-insect technology to solve the problem.

We Drifters clothing, woman in a field modelling pyjamas.

The business soft-launched in summer 2019, targeting UK travellers going abroad. However, with the coronavirus pandemic restricting international travel, Naudia decided to broaden the customer segments and target UK staycationers and the camping and glamping market.

In summer 2020, We Drifters relocated to York due to its perfect position with a thriving start-up community, good links to other major cities in the UK and nature right on the doorstep.

After relocating, Naudia focused on developing the B2B side of the business and started building relationships with wholesalers and travel agencies. To make connections and grow, Naudia has reached out to York’s business community by working with the City of York Council Business Growth Managers.

Naudia, founder of We Drifters, said:

After moving our business to York, first and foremost we wanted to become a part of the city’s business community and networks, for which the Business Growth Managers served as a perfect gateway. Christine Hogan from the team helped us to better understand the place and offered crucial support in growing our business by introducing us to key contacts and organisations.

Louise Saw, Business Growth Manager, has also introduced Naudia to Alice Ingram from the Ad:Venture programme, who in turn encouraged Naudia to apply for the BUILD accelerator programme for young businesses. The project has been designed to support early-stage founders to develop investable ideas which have a positive potential impact on people, planet and profit. It is one of the projects inspired by Leeds City Region’s involvement in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) prestigious Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Programme (REAP) - a global initiative designed to help regions accelerate economic growth through innovation-driven entrepreneurship.

Naudia adds:

During the pandemic it is more important than ever to be able to talk to key people in the industry and get mentors’ support when growing your business. The programme also mixes purpose with profit, which was a perfect fit for We Drifters.

"On top of offering comfort and peace of mind, we aim to encourage social change in the field of travel health and wellbeing. We donate £2 from each of our sleepwear set sales to Malaria No More and plan to expand into more charitable initiatives as well as creating educational content around relevant topics.

"The BUILD accelerator programme has proved to be the perfect match for us, and without the Business Growth Managers and their networks, we would never have known about it. The team are the best at directing you to the right information and contacts that can help accelerate and grow your business. They open doors to so many new opportunities to develop and grow.”

We Drifters currently sell their products online and have also been part of the Visit York Virtual Christmas Market during the 2020 festive season. Featuring on the virtual market and joining Visit York membership, helped We Drifters to become more prominent in the York community and make new connections to develop the B2B side of the business and for possible future collaborations.

This year We Drifters are focused on developing their products, with the aim of introducing new versions of the sleepwear and adding a children’s product line to the portfolio. The company is focused on expanding and securing orders as well as making the product accessible to more people through using key channels in the staycation market.

Looking into the future, Naudia has an ambition and desire to grow the company by creating more product categories and expanding to the global market. As a socially conscious organisation, We Drifters also aim to grow their charitable initiatives and drive innovation in fashion technology to help improve people’s lives.

Find out more about We Drifters on their website.

Also see

Economic Growth Team

West Offices, Station Rise, York, YO1 6GA