Funding boost to help kickstart Cramlington company's prototyping facility

Two entrepreneurs have received a funding boost to help expand their product range.

Tuesday, 31st August 2021, 8:00 am
Jo Lennon (left) and Jo Storie, of KnitLab North.

Jo Lennon and Jo Storie, founders of KnitLab North based in Cramlington, have won £30,000 grant funding from the Rural Growth Network to purchase machinery enabling them to offer the latest in sustainable prototyping for the knitwear industry.

After applying for a grant under the North of Tyne Rural Business Growth Service Programme, KnitLab North will expand its business capacity with a Shima Seiki WholeGarment knitting machine and the latest in 3D virtual prototyping software.

The duo offer a knitwear design studio with onsite facilities to support clients, bringing together prototyping and micro-production with commercial and marketing expertise, to help new brands bring products to market.

Jo Lennon, commercial development lead, said: “KnitLab North is the collective effort of myself and knitwear designer Jo Storie, who has over 25 years of experience in the knitwear industry in New York and the UK.

“We have had a very busy start to the year.

"We located to our first office premise at B.Village, Cramlington and also launched a crowdfunder campaign to help expand our prototyping and manufacturing capacity.

“The £30,000 funding has helped contribute to the £100,000 we raised as a business in this first round of funding and plays an important part in the growth of KnitLab North.

“The benefit of the Shima Seiki WholeGarment Machine is that it offers seam-free knitwear knitted in three dimensions directly from the machine.

“It is the most advanced technology and from a waste perspective it is the future. It also enables us to prototype offering key pieces and quality, as opposed to fast fashion.

“We want to help support anyone looking to create knitwear – whether it is students, start-ups or professionals and to really champion British design.”

Jo Storie said: “Launching a business takes determination and a huge amount of effort.

"The grant that we received was a huge boost to assist our own efforts to raise enough money to purchase the machinery we needed.

“We want to create a hub by bringing the industry together and to foster talent. There is a real skills gap and our goal is not just to prototype but to educate and inspire the future generation.”