A fashion craze manufacturer which has kitted out boybands, sports stars, TV presenters and reality show contestants had the Small Business trophy sewn up at an awards event.
Kate Dawson launched the All-in-One Company in Ashington, Northumberland, with two colleagues five years ago, with a mission to make onesies of all shapes, colours and sizes for adults.
Since then the firm has grown to a 21-strong company which turned over £1m last year, selling their all-in-ones to customers in more than 150 countries.
More than half the workforce come from generations of skilled clothes makers and they are now gearing up for their busiest time of the year.
Dawson and the team, which includes production manager Edith Gibson, were recognised for their achievements at the weekend when they took the Best Small Business prize at the North East Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Awards.
Customers design their all-in-ones through the company website and they are then handmade by the team at the factory in North Seaton, where 17,000 were made last year alone.
Its all-in-ones have been worn by Olympic medal winners, top boy band Union J and presenters and Big Brother contestants, and almost half the staff come
Dawson said: “I’m so proud of Edith. She’s been at the heart of the company from the very start.
“I had the idea for our products and some experience in business. Edith brought fantastic experience and skills from her years working for clothing manufacturers.”
Gibson added: “Five years ago nobody would have imagined that adults would start wearing onesies. I always thought it was a good idea, but I didn’t think it would be as successful as quickly as it has been.
“One of the best things about the company is that it is helping to ensure traditional skills like cutting, embroidery and machining – which were in danger of dying out – are surviving. “It’s meant work for a lot of experienced people who thought their days of working in this industry were over, as well as a great start for our two apprentices.”
The All-in-One Company has been praised by Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery during a House of Commons debate about the region’s economy and it has been highlighted by the principal of Northumberland College as the example of a new breed of business which will bring prosperity back to the area.
Dawson said: “There were a lot of doubters when we started out, but I hope we’ve silenced them now.
“We have fantastic support from people like Ian Lavery and the college, but the business is still relatively new and we have a long way to go.”
Other winners at the event, held last Friday at the Newcastle Gateshead Hilton, included Jacqui Miller of Miller UK who was named Best Woman in International Business, Alice Blackie of Pink Boutique Limited who won Best Use of Technology, Gill Walker of Patchwork People/Labelled CIC who took the Best Social Enterprise trophy and Leanne McHugh of Love Food Ltd who won the Young Entrepreneur of the Year award.
Event chairman Nickie Gott said: “The event was a truly inspirational night, the calibre of entries and those that made the shortlist was exceptional and made judging very tough this year.
“We have some fantastic female led businesses and business women in the North east and this event helps showcase their achievements in spectacular style.”