Get Branded is growing its business with the help of four recruits under the government’s Kickstart scheme

Edinburgh-based decorator Get Branded has been supplying decorated garments and other branded products for 33 years. After the pandemic, the company saw an opportunity to grow its business further. However, such an expansion would have required it to increase its team of four by recruiting new employees and the company’s management felt anxious about making such a financial commitment while the future remained uncertain.

Director Nacho Luna Borrás comments: “We multi-task here – I can print a shirt, do embroidery, answer the phone, clean the toilet – but you can stretch only so far and we needed more hands. We tried to do it based on money but it was impossible because, after lockdown, we had no idea of what would happen – one month open, then a second lockdown.”

Fortunately, Nacho came upon the government’s Kickstart scheme, which provides paid six-month placements for people on Universal Credit aged 16 to 24. Run through the Department for Work and Pensions, it provides employers with £1,500 per person per month, based on the National Minimum Wage. At Get Branded, £1,000 goes to the employee for salary and national insurance for 25 hours per week, and the rest funds admin and coaching to help them find jobs.

Kickstarting growth

Between April and June, Get Branded took on four Kickstart employees – doubling its workforce – allocating them to different parts of the business: Hazel Peden focuses on embroidery and production, Leia Meredith graphic design and printing, Chardonnay Auguste-Lancaster sales and customer service, and Emma Yeats marketing.

Get Branded has put in place structured training plans so they end the six months with a personalised manual of their learnings and achievements. They were recruited through Kickstart ‘gateway’ partner Atwood Tate, which provides sessions on CVs, interview techniques and job searching.

Nacho explains: “We have the benefit of extra hands, but we have the advantage of being a family business and quite a small company so we are cross-training everyone on the placements so they can all understand production, customer care, admin, marketing. When they finish their placement, we want them to have all the tools so when they approach their next position, they feel confident of what it takes to run a company at a certain level. We believe that if we train young people well, it will be better for everyone because it is our future.”

After the six months, Nacho hopes Get Branded will have doubled its income and hopefully be in a position to keep all four recruits. “It’s a common theme that people say young people don’t care so much or don’t want to work, but the four of them have a fantastic work ethic and the proactive attitude that every company needs.“

Hazel Peden working on the Happy embroidery machine

Embroidered logos for Antony Zein Hair Salon in Edinburgh

A big challenge

Nacho, who is from Argentina and moved to Edinburgh to study, joined the business in 2019 to do marketing and graphic design, but saw potential for the business. Raymond Hamil, who founded Get Branded in 1988, was coming up for retirement so Nacho became a director alongside operations manager Calum Brockie, allowing Raymond to scale back his hours. When Covid-19 hit, the company had to shut temporarily before business returned, boosted by workwear for delivery drivers and healthcare and supported by a government £10,000 Bounce Back Loan.

“That time was a big challenge for us,” Nacho said. “We are still fighting. But the time of lockdown was useful as instead of doing the changes while we were working, it allowed us to stop and think more strategically.” He adds that Brexit has presented a separate challenge, driving up prices at its suppliers of garments and ink.

With a larger team that also includes graphic designer Kieran Polson, Get Branded has raised awareness of its broader offering with existing customers and attracted new ones of all sizes. This has been boosted by email marketing, SEO and social media campaigns by Emma, who graduated last year with a degree in international business management from Edinburgh Napier University. With Edinburgh digital agency WeeMile, Get Branded is developing a new website to showcase its full range of services, which also includes products such as mugs, lanyards, mouse mats and signage.

“We are trying to become a branded solution company,” Nacho adds. Already operating in many sectors including hospitality, plumbing and sports clubs, it has expanded in areas such as school uniforms. It sources garments mainly from PenCarrie and Ralawise, but also from the likes of Prestige, Uneek, Four West, Alexandra and BTC Activewear.

The Get Branded team (left to right): Kieran Polson, Leia Meredith, Raymond Hamil, Chardonnay Auguste-Lancaster, Nacho Luna Borrás, Emma Yeats, Calum Brockie and Hazel Peden

Emma Yeats at work on a sublimation machine

Adding value

Get Branded’s two-storey base in Corstorphine in west Edinburgh houses a Happy eight-head embroidery machine, although the company is planning to switch to a six-head and single-head for more flexibility, especially for decorating caps. There are also two Xpres heat presses for garments plus an Epson SureColor F2100 DTG printer, a Roland VersaCamm VP-540 printer/cutter, a Roland Camm-1 GX-24 vinyl cutter and two sublimation printers: a Sawgrass SG400 and Epson GX7000.

For screen printing, it collaborates with Edinburgh decorator Scotshirts. There is also a walk-in showroom, which allows its customers to see and feel garments. “They come here with an idea and we make it happen,” Nacho says. “You can hand-pick your colour of thread to match your logo, with someone with expertise [on hand] to give you advice. That adds a lot of value on the customer side.”

Having more staff has allowed Get Branded to improve turnaround times for garment decoration and be more responsive to customer enquiries. This builds on Nacho and Calum’s efforts to improve processes and identify new opportunities. “It still has the vibe of a family business, but in a more professional way in terms of managing the company,” Nacho explains. “We can go above and beyond customers’ expectations on quality and making the customer journey the best it can be.”