The Handmade Alliance, which I came across at Design Junction, is a social enterprise teaching sewing skills to prisoners and former prisoners to help train them in a career, thus reducing reoffending rates. There is a real shortage of skilled machinists and hand sewers in the UK for businesses needing small runs and equally a lack of practical training and employment opportunities for ex-prisoners. I think it’s a brilliant concept and was impressed by the professional quality of the work as well as competitive pricing.
Their stand, below, showed some of their own products: simple, clean and commercial designs. Not only can they do short runs and sampling, because they are local (King’s Cross in London) a designer can work with them directly and lead times are short.
Like so many great ideas this is a beautifully simple concept.