Student entrepreneur Ben Penrose has already launched one successful clothing business and now his new spin off company Zen Beach is switching its production and manufacturing to Cornwall.
Following the successful launch of Vintage Religion – an online sustainable clothing re-sale company – the Falmouth University student has launched another venture which is set to switch its entire production and manufacturing process to Cornwall after previously importing from China.
After successfully securing an initial £2k investment in 2021 to help accelerate his business Vintage Religion, with the help of fellow Falmouth University student creatives Penrose was able to establish robe challenger company Zen Beach.
From Hampshire originally, the final year Business and Entrepreneurship student designed the simple fleece and towel-lined robes to appeal to active surfer, paddle boarding and swimmers who wanted to warm up after cold water activity but without breaking the bank.
The decision to switch production closer to home came to head last year, when the Suez Canal was blocked for six days following the grounding of a giant container ship, which saw Penrose’s shipping costs soar from £400 to over £3k within just four weeks.
Penrose said: “Through a combination of the pandemic, the Suez crisis and increasing levels of buyer and consumer concern around sustainable products, I realised I could no longer continue to use supply chains in the way I had been.
“Until then, I had been working with numerous suppliers in the Far East and despite our best efforts as a company, it was very difficult to ascertain the full picture when it came to conditions within factories, worker protection and environmental standards. It felt that the checks and balances I was looking for weren’t there – so it became difficult to have full confidence in the product and integrity in our supply process.
“I have been lucky enough to receive incredible advice and mentoring, meeting a fabulous contact at a Chamber of Commerce event. Essentially, we’ve created a bit of a movement via our network of students, graduates and small business owners looking out for one another and helping with favours, introductions and swapping goods and services. This year, I will be launching our very first poncho-style towelling robes which will be entirely manufactured here in Cornwall – before moving on to our fleece and towel-lined robes.
“I’m proud to be able to pivot the business away from overseas imports and make steps to address some of Cornwall’s bigger challenges.”