Name: Eddy Downpatrick
Where’s home? Family – Cambridge; Work – London; Spiritually – Highlands.
Profession: Founder, Creative Director, Mountain-Goat-in-Chief.
Company Name: FIDIR
What is FIDIR and when did you launch?
FIDIR is the product of much daydreaming and many years’ exploring a part of the world that is very special to me. We make men’s clothes, bags, and accessories inspired by the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. We launched in May 2017.
How did the idea for FIDIR come about?
The seed that was first planted to do something of this nature was when I was 8 years old, only back then it was sports kits and boots (I’ve got the drawings somewhere). Having left university and attempted three years’ servitude to financial services, restlessness got the better of me. I started sketching out what I might want a brand akin to FIDIR to look like, met the right partner, and so it began…
How have you raised investment? Or equally how are you raising investment?
I had the very good fortune to be introduced to my business partner by a great friend with terrific experience in heritage brand building, Austin Mutti-Mewse. For the next phase of investment, let’s just say I’m looking for another dollop of special sauce.
Any advice you could give others looking for investment?
Look at government and corporate-sponsored grants for entrepreneurs, EIS, businesses in or affiliated to your target industry that might want to partner, and most importantly – talk to everyone you know about what you’re doing.
What have been the challenges in initially setting up FIDIR?
Supply and speed to market. Those seem to be pretty common challenges for smaller brands in the apparel world, but they are not insurmountable. Given the immense weight attached to social media, not just as a medium to generate direct sales and brand awareness, but also to use as leverage in distribution and with press, garnering a decent following is both a challenge and a pressure. We have work to do here, but our engagement rate is healthy and that gives us something to build on.
How do you juggle a full-time job alongside FIDIR?
With difficulty and I couldn’t do it without the support of my business partner and her fantastic team. Being on board more fully ought to be just a matter of time.
Have you got a mentor?
I’m very lucky to have more than a few people willing to lend an ear, some of my closest friends notwithstanding, but to call out a few, Feigen Advisors Founder and CEO Marc Feigen, Luxury Briefing Founder James Ogilvy, and heritage brand guru and author of Hollywood history, Austin Mutti-Mewse. All three are bottomless pools of knowledge and great sources of wisdom.
Who do you seek out for support and advice (if not a mentor)?
I’ve a tight group of close friends for whom I’d go into battle and from whom I hope I could expect the same.
Do you ever doubt yourself?
Not infrequently… the thought of failure is terrifying, but there’s no such thing as bad experience in these endeavours (and I don’t yet have children to worry about).
How are you marketing FIDIR?
Social channels, mags (mainly Gents’ and Scottish publications hitherto), newspaper supplements, Insta influencers (outdoorsy folk with a following).
What do you think sets FIDIR apart from its competition?
The cuts of its clothes, the linings of its bags, the packaging of its more giftable items… I think we have a genuinely differentiated surprise-and-delight element to the brand.
Is there anything you wish you had done differently?
Haha… well, we might have benefitted from a slightly-delayed launch, but at this stage, I’m a little way off too savage a post-mortem.
Anything you would tell yourself then that you know now?
Be an animal. Compromise only at the very last and if your life depends on it.
What’s a typical day for you working on FIDIR?
Emails, calls, ideas, laughter, tears, fury, joy.
Any personality traits you have discovered about yourself along the way?
Definitely weirder than I thought I was…
Any utter disasters along the way?
Well you might not call it a disaster (and to be honest, we’re waiting for our first ‘complete and utter’), but all the fine folk who ordered stuff at our launch party had to be delivered the disappointing news that their orders were held up to the tune of a month… Cue many an irate missive of admonishment. It was embarrassing, it was frustrating, it required some firefighting, but we got our socks in earlier than expected so just decided to gift all these kind people (even the one, who shall remain nameless, who called me ‘a worthless f*cktard’) two pairs of our embroidered socks along with a note of apology on one of our FIDIR postcards. The gesture was appreciated and definitely saved some bacon.
What has been your best moment so far as a result of setting up FIDIR?
I love the team I work with and I love hearing of people digging the brand, but a really nice, singular moment from all that was getting a hand-written thank you letter from a young lady who’d purchased a Duffle Bag and T-Shirt for herself and a Henley and Messenger Bag for her boyfriend, complete with photos of the two of them brandishing their goods. The highlight of the letter was: ‘Now I don’t have to steal so many of his t-shirts ;)’.
What advice would you give other twenty-something’s who are thinking of pursuing a career in the same industry as you?
It’ll be bewilderingly frustrating so much of the time. Listen to the accounts of people who’ve been through it. The autobiographies of Nike founder, Phil Knight, and eponymous menswear brand founder, Yohji Yamamoto, are inspiring tales for the struggles ahead. Again, and most importantly… talk to as many people as you can – you’ll unearth some surprising pearls of wisdom.
What do you think the next steps are for you this year?
To increase our visibility, to seed with department store and boutique retailers (especially in Scotland), and add loveable pieces to our collection.
What’s the dream?
To be distributed in countries beyond the UK where the brand feels some serious love. I want people across continents to be wearing our tops and carrying our bags. For me personally, I want to be devoting myself to this brand in the very place that inspired it, pack of dogs at my side, face to the wind, living and breathing what the brand’s all about.
Finally if you weren’t be doing this, what would you both be doing?
Thinking up mad adventures for people to go on, creating delicious potions for people to drink, and befriending lots of bears – my brothers from furrier mothers.
Just for fun….
In your twenties the three things I tend to think about are… where I want to explore, what I want to make, who I want to share my life with.
When I look at my bank statement after a night out I usually… check I’ve got enough tinned food to last the following week.
The Twenty Mile Club is… and should be a source of inspiration for our age group. We can’t all simply replicate our parents’ existence, nor should we. Our world is changing dramatically and we, well some of us at least, have to break the model. My way of doing the breaking – to gather like-minded folk and start a business-led community well away from the M25.
If you want to check out FIDIR head