In this inventor interview Sally Guyer talks about creating her product Cambridge Raincoats, because when she wanted a stylish yet functional raincoat she could wear cycling and couldn’t find one.
Tara: Please could you tell me your name, product name and website URL?
Sally: Sally Guyer, The Cambridge Raincoat Company; Cambridge Raincoats – fashion rainwear for upright bicycles; www.cambridgeraincoats.co.uk
Tara: Please could you tell me a little bit about where you are based, your background experience how you first started inventing?
Saly: I live 5 miles south of Cambridge, the UK’s number 1st city of cycling. My life is bike-based and that is how I prefer to get around. My daily commute is 5 miles each way, cycling into central Cambridge in all weathers all year round. I’m not interested in cycling as a sport and I don’t like sports clothes.
Tara: Please could you tell me a little bit about your product, what it is, and how you came up with the idea?
Sally: As a busy woman, I wanted a fully functional coat that I could wear without embarrassment or needing to change on arrival at my destination. I couldn’t find it so decided to create it myself. Cambridge Raincoats are the first coats to combine Savile Row styling with high performance fabric in bright colours. This means it’s unnecessary to wear hi-vis and that the coats are lightweight, highly water-resistant, windproof, breathable and washable. Nevertheless, they look like groovy ‘normal’ coats anyone might like to wear.
Tara: What were the first steps you took after having your idea?
Sally: I’ve never worked in the clothing industry so didn’t know where to start. Before the Internet got going, I tried going to the library and asking around but it was the Internet which really allowed me to drive the idea forward. Having access to so much information was life-changing.
Tara: Did you get presentation drawing sheets produced or make a prototype of your invention, how did you go about this?
Sally: I can’t draw so I asked around to find a pattern cutter. I then explained my idea to her and she drew what I described before producing the prototype.
Tara: Did you try and patent or protect your idea in any way and how did you go about it?
Sally: I tried to copywrite my idea but found I can’t copywrite the concept; I can protect individual garment design, the company name, colours, brand image etc but not the concept.
Tara: Did you always intend manufacturing your invention yourself or did you look into licensing the idea?
Sally: I always intended to manufacture (via outsourcing) but am also currently investigating licensing the idea too.
Tara: How did you go about finding a suitable manufacturer for your invention and did you self fund this?
Sally: It was like kissing a lot of toads before finding your prince! It was thanks to a mentor I acquired via a Linked In group that I met my manufacturer, the one I use now.
Tara: What have you found are the best ways of promoting your invention?
Sally: Social media has been a godsend but having the support of local businesses and winning a business competition have also been instrumental. In the beginning, I used social media to connect with all the relevant bike groups I could find in the world. Being a Spanish speaker helped a lot.
Tara: What were the most difficult elements of bringing your invention to market?
Tara: How long has it taken from your initial idea to taking it to market?
Sally: I had to sit on the idea for over 5 years before finding a way to bring it to market.
Tara: Is there anything you learned developing your invention that you would now do differently if you had to do it all again?
Sally: No. Mistakes made are valuable and an opportunity to learn something new.
Tara: What advice would you give any aspiring inventor with an idea?
Sally: Don’t give up. Don’t seek other people’s approval, take yourself seriously.
Tara: Where can people find out more about you your product?
Sally: On our website, www.cambridgeraincoats.co.uk
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