“I run the business full-time from home in Bournemouth. It has been steadily growing with around 100 retailers stocking our product in the UK and Europe. After graduating, I worked for an architect – but I wanted to work with softer materials. I started sewing things at home, like lavender eye pillows, and selling them on Etsy.
My partner is a climber, and wanted something to deodorise his rock boots, so I began experimenting with materials. I got to work designing a shoe-friendly shape and with the lavender and some yellow fabric , I had my light bulb moment and Boot Bananas were born.
A lot of the design skills I learnt on the BA (Hons) Modelmaking course came into play, such as template making, logo design and manufacturing processes. It was important for us to use natural materials and things that can be reused.
In the first year, I was hand sewing, filling and packaging around 50 pairs of bananas a day. You would funnel in the mixture, shake it down and use a screwdriver to compact it. We had big barrels of lavender and sodium bicarbonate stacked all around our flat.
We learned a great deal in the early days about materials and the issues you get when you start to scale up manufacturing. On one occasion, we ordered 100kg of bamboo charcoal from overseas to find it was the wrong grade, so we ended up washing it in the bath and drying it out in the oven tray by tray over two weeks to get the higher grade that we needed!
We then found a company in Yorkshire who would make and distribute them. That was a great day when we packed all our barrels and materials up in a big van and drove all the way up the length of the country to teach a team of people how to make our bananas.
Now we are aiming to get as many people as possible aware of our product. The climbing community have been great for word of mouth and supporting us and our customer base is now starting to spread to all types of sports.”