Behind the Scenes at TRIBE
Meet Jonny, ex-professional rugby player and founder of TRIBE, the brand making waves with their hand-crafted wooden accessories. Inspired by his love of the outdoors and active lifestyle, Jonny started TRIBE following his travels around the world. Impressed by the resourceful and respectful way in which native tribesmen worked, Jonny was moved to create his own unique range of products, made from natural and renewable materials.
We caught up with Jonny to discuss TRIBE, and to see how he’s dealt with the career change from Newcastle Falcons prop forward, to founder of this seriously cool new brand.
What inspires you to create TRIBE products?
I like to try and create products that make things a little easier for the wearer. Nobody likes carrying a bulky wallet around, that’s why we made our stylish cardholders super slim. They’re pretty much invisible in your pocket and keep your cards and notes safe too. The same goes for our sunglasses and watches – we aim to make beautiful, natural products, while keeping them functional.
Tell us a little more about how you work
TRIBE HQ is based by the sea in Northumberland. Going for a walk on the beach before getting stuck into the day ahead is my favourite way to find inspiration and new ideas. It’s also handy for testing out TRIBE’s wooden surfboards!
What has been the biggest hurdle you’ve had to overcome in founding TRIBE?
Before I founded TRIBE I was a professional rugby player for Newcastle Falcons. It’s been a complete career change from being a sportsman. It’s a whole new skill set, but I love every bit of it – except the book keeping. I like the product development side of the business best.
Founding a company is tough, have you had a strong support system to help you along the way?
My family and friends have been great, as have my fellow teammates Tane Tu’ipulotu and Jimmy Gopperth. Jimmy has shown his new team at Leinster Rugby our wooden sunglasses, and I think it’s fair to say that most of them are now wearing wood!
Tell us about your home
I live a stone’s throw from the beach in Northumberland. At the end of the day it’s nice to be able to walk out the door and build sandcastles with my children, or sneak into the water for a cheeky lunch break surf – product testing of course!
Do you think you have a good work / life balance?
I think having a good balance is tricky when you’re a young company. There is a lot to be done and you don’t have loads of people to do it. I do always make sure family comes first, and try to find time for fitness when I can, although not quite as much as I used to.
Has notonthehighstreet.com had a positive impact on your business?
Since we launched our products on notonthehighstreet.com our business has really flourished. It’s a great fit for us because the site always has unique and great quality products. I think customers know when they shop with notonthehighstreet.com they’re getting something special. The support you get from the team is second to none, and I’m looking forward to working with them closely to build TRIBE’s presence and product range.
Which product on the site has particularly caught your eye this month?
The Steak on the Stone Company looks really cool – like all TRIBEsmen, I’d never say no to a steak.
How do you want TRIBE to be seen in the future?
We’re ambitious and want to make TRIBE a well-known and well-loved brand. First in the UK, and then who knows; maybe we’ll carve out a canoe to take the TRIBE to Europe.