A Potted History Of Turtle Doves - Media Summary

Here's a third person version of the 'Our Story' page in case it comes in handy.

A potted history of Turtle Doves - By Kate Holbrook

Turtle Doves is a British design and manufacturing company, specialising in using post-consumer textile waste to create beautiful new garments & accessories.

Turtle Doves passionately believe in paying their employees a healthy wage whilst keeping their prices competitive through clever design and avoiding middlemen. All our products are recycled - partly because, like many people, Kate is concerned about how we use the earth's resources. However, she has also always loved old things & thinks that they have more character than new; she finds the 'worn in' feel of pre-owned fabric irresistible.

Although Turtle Doves are not above being given donations (friends do pass on the odd jumper) we buy woollens from charity shops & textile merchants (who in turn buy their waste textiles from charity shops) so as a business they know that part of the money they are spending on fabric is going back into the charitable sector. Turtle Doves was born in December 2009 when Kate dreamt up the design for these unique wrist warmers which are also fingerless gloves. Having made some for friends, who really liked them, she tested the idea at a local school fair. To her delight the fledgling Turtle Doves flew off the shelf (sorry, couldn't resist that one).

Kate quickly copyrighted the design and before she knew it she had two regular markets in Shrewsbury and lots of repeat custom. It was at this point that Kate realised the product needed a name and her husband Graham 'the naming guru' suggested 'Turtle Doves, because it's Cockney rhyming-slang for gloves.' Graham fondly recalls that moment as the first time Kate ever said 'Yes Graham, good idea..' without adding a 'but' after it -anyway, on with the story...

The next step: December 2009 gave Kate & Graham the feeling that they had stumbled upon something important and more success for the fingerless gloves followed in 2010, with a high percentage of repeat custom and bulk buying of gifts for birthdays and Christmas. New products such as the patchwork scarf and snood came on stream and they launched a basic website in late 2010 which showed that the Turtle Dove brand had surprising international appeal. Bex, Mary and Jackie joined the Turtle Doves crew to help keep up with the burgeoning demand for the products.

But it was the Christmas of 2011 that took Kate & Graham from thinking of the business as a one-cottage enterprise to something that could get a lot bigger. Turnover doubled, helped enormously by the development of the 'Hug', a beautiful loop of patchworked jumpers which gave Kate the confidence to get designing and work on even more lovely recycled goodies. In 2012 Turtle Doves tripled the number of markets and shows and developed a website that helped to take on more established companies. In 2013 they launched the trade arm of the business and are now stocked in towards 150 shops in the UK and some overseas too!

In 2014 with the help of a group of local investors they moved the business out of the family home and into a lovely studio so they have lots of room to get creative. One of the highlights of the year was supplying Friends of the Earth and Amnesty international with their own bespoke Turtle Doves recycled cashmere range (in red & grey) and Kate was also delighted to collaborate with Belinda Robertson Cashmere in their first closed-loop recycling project. Christmas 2014 was amazing and demand for our increasing number of products (now including silk) continued throughout 2015 meaning that for the first time Turtle Doves kept their seamstresses fully employed during the warmer months.

Some profit is reinvested in keeping up with technology, particularly digital technology and generate an increasing proportion of our revenue through this website. The Turtle Doves team are also working hard to make the business 'zero-waste' and are currently experimenting with a brand new felted cashmere fabric made from their own waste with the help of a specialist felting company in Huddersfield - more on that soon!

There are now 50 people including a number of ex-Laura Ashley seamstresses in the Turtle Doves team. Kate and Graham passionately belief in retaining British craftsmanship where it was learnt and will always design and make our products in Britain.

At the start of October Graham joined the business full-time and then, almost out of nowhere, Turtle Doves was awarded a Gold Medal in the Green Apple Awards 2015. The awards ceremony took place at The Houses of Parliament and last year's winners were M&S!

Turtle Doves has grown fast just through word of mouth and it's been a wonderful journey so far; Kate & Graham feel very lucky to have made friends along the way and love seeing customers return to browse & enjoy our latest creations.


Turtle Doves would love you to stay in touch with you on their journey so do follow on twitter & Facebook if you can. If you would like to speak to Kate about other media assistance please call on 01743 562202.

Thanks for reading & warm wishes,

Kate & the Turtle Doves team

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