Notes from the factory

By Anna Kennett

Our Alpfactory has been running for just over a year now. Looking back it is good to see where we came from. We liked our little shed with it’s vibrant red walls, but our bright, roomy open-plan factory nestled under the mezzanine office is far better. It’s great for visitors to wander in and see what we’re working on, a bit like at Cadbury World, just with less chocolate!

We’re also quicker and more confident at making things now. It’s good to know that this year we should have not just our Mujo mats in stock, but the whole range of Waffa, Project and Phud as well. Hopefully no disappointed bouldering fans this year! We hope Santa’s got enough extra room on the sleigh this Christmas! We’ve ramped up production and are working our socks off to keep all of our UK-made items in stock. We’ve also got a couple of new products on the way in the next few weeks.

It’s good to be working on a variety of different products. There’s that buzz mid-way through a run of Mujos where we crank up the music, down the remnants of the 3.30pm tea and push on to finish the next process before the end of the day. There’s the Stingrays, which we like to do at the start of the week. We aim to get them sent to customers with plenty of time to prepare a spontaneous bike-bivi at the weekend to test out the gear! Each one is individual, right down to the choice of stitch colour, and we often wonder what adventures the bags will see; a hectic London commute? Fat biking across a Scottish beach? A 3-day bike pack expedition around Snowdonia? Or even just a family picnic along the Monsal trail? The templates come in all shapes and sizes from tiny partial frame bags to giant 29er bags and sometimes we get unusual shaped templates for full suspension frames. Each one is a different challenge and the best bit is turning them right-side-out when they’re done; that quick transformation from component parts to finished product.

On quieter weeks we rattle through some chalk bags. These gives us a chance to be a bit creative with fabrics and stitching patterns, and, like the Stingrays, no two are ever the same.

It hasn’t all been plain sailing, some weeks are tough (like when we’re facing an afternoon of sewing zips and bar-tacking) and occasionally we do get products back that we’ve made a mistake on. We take this very seriously and always do what we can to fix it, after all we’re still learning a lot about the best ways to do things. But we’ve also had the odd email from some customers who’ve been pleased as punch with their new gear, and this always fires us up for the last push after mid-afternoon tea break!

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