The story of Outside Gang
Graham and I met in Aug 2013 on a photoshoot in Liverpool. He was a very cool photographer doing a friend a favour, I was a very hungover Graphic Design student just ‘helping out’ on the day after my 22nd birthday! (I am not the model!)
Graham grew up in Aberdeenshire and studied Product Design at university before moving to Manchester. He fell into photography and headed up the studio for one of the largest UK ecommerce brands. It wasn’t until Spring 2014 we met again when Graham was introducing myself and the other new recruits to the photography studio. I am a graphic designer by trade, but I wear lots of hats these days!
I got an email from him soon after our surprise encounter, asking if I could design a website and logo for his new outdoor furniture idea. I said yes and we have worked together ever since!
Graham at this point had nothing but an idea and was busy working on the designs of our first cooler. We met every few weeks on lunch breaks to discuss the progress of the brand identity and website.
In 2015 Graham started putting the physical design of the cooler table in motion and was in the process of getting the first prototype made. Once made, it was given to some friends and then carried around the streets of Manchester for user feedback, then from this research there were changes made to the design.
An entire year later, in spring 2016, we had a prototype we were happy with and were excited to start selling!
By the end of 2016, by some stroke of fate… We both became single and Graham asked if I wanted to go for a drink! This was new, we never went for drinks! I was hesitant as I didn’t want to ruin our working relationship if it didn’t work out, so I sat on the idea for a while before saying yes.
Graham doesn’t do half measures and took me for a snowboarding lesson for our first date. Exciting right! I was a total newbie and lent my friends vintage ski-suit as I didn’t have one. I looked ridiculous and Graham nearly died laughing! Sorry Ella! On our second date we agreed we were going to get married!
2017 was a busy year for us… We became an official couple in Jan 2017, luckily Graham forgot about the ski suit. We got engaged in April and married in October. Outside Gang was bubbling away in the background during all this excitement. Graham was finding local manufactures to work with and setting up the business side of things and I designed us a much better website. FYI… We actually rebranded twice before becoming Outside Gang!
The next stage involved getting a bespoke tool made so that we could create the bowls. This took around 6 months to create as there were a few issues. Graham quit his full time job of 10 years in the spring of 2018 and then by the end of the year we were ready to launch. We set the website live and attended our first exhibition show; Glee which was held at the NEC, Birmingham. (While I was 7 months pregnant!) We bagged our first big wholesale order with a leading DIY brand and started making connections with other companies. We had our first child at the end of 2018!
We call 2019 our year of learning, we did many exhibition shows in many different categories. Camping, home and garden, lifestyle, seasonal, trade… a lot of the shows were run by Graham on his own, sometimes for weeks at a time. These weeks were tiring and quite difficult for us both as we had a newborn baby and newborn business! We did get to work one festival as a family, we had a stand at Camper Jam and enjoyed staying in our Volkswagen T4 with our then 8 month old! We also grew our product range with new accessories and introduced new colours.
We found out I was pregnant with our second child whilst exhibiting at Spirit of Christmas in November 2019. Which totally validated the queasiness I had been feeling! Luckily we had our good friend Mike down in London for the weekend to takeover.
And that brings us to 2020, what a strange year! We got organised at the start of the year and started to think more seriously about wholesale, marketing and SEO. And then Covid-19 happened and everything went a bit nuts. We were able to keep working during the first lockdown, and amazingly had an abundance of orders which we can only imagine is because more people were at home during the spring/summer. Our bowl makers had to close for three weeks and we had various other hoops to jump through, but we’re still here, we have got through it and are keeping on keeping on! We had our second child in July and we now juggle work around the chaos at home. Graham is able to help in the mornings and evenings before going to the workshop and I'm able to work in the evenings and when our toddler is in nursery.
Because of Grahams background in photography and my background in design we are able to do our own shoots, and they are normally a family affair! If we don't have childcare we simply do whatever we can with the kids around. It can be difficult but we're making it work!
We created Outside Gang because we wanted to create a high quality product in the UK that will last for years. We don’t like throwaway products and try to keep our carbon footprint down by using materials that will last a lifetime along with recyclable packaging and local suppliers.
When you buy from us, you are supporting a small company, so thank you to everyone who bought from our website, visited us at a show, liked a social post or has written a review... It means A LOT!!