Cool Startups -FieldCandy
Entrepreneur: John Harris, founder of FieldCandy, a U.K.-based brand of designer tents with offbeat graphics such as a block of cheese, floral and galactic motifs, leopard print, bubble wrap--even a time machine.
"Aha" moment: Harris, formerly a furniture designer, and partner Rhona Carr had retired in Italy. "We had a lovely life--and hated being retired," he says. "We both missed working and having something to get up in the morning for." On a trip to an exhibition for outdoor recreation, the two discovered an entire hall devoted to tents--all the same, all utterly boring. "There was certainly nothing designer-y, feminine or sexy. It didn't exist," Harris says. "It was very much a product for guys with tattoos and canoes who go into the forest and shoot deer. We wanted to change that and make it a fashion product."
Field test: Harris and Carr spent a few years researching their idea, dreaming up designs and learning to print graphics on tent flysheets. With an initial investment of about $400,000 of their own money, they launched FieldCandy in November 2011 with 40 unique designs. Within a few days, international design blog The Cool Hunter featured the company on its homepage; from there, word spread via the internet.
Fresh air: FieldCandy enlists a variety of illustrators, photographers and fashion and graphic designers to come up with prints. Among those who have contributed are Terry Pastor, known for his album artwork for David Bowie; Philip Gatward, photographer for Nike, Coca-Cola and Heineken; and fashion brand Basso & Brooke. Harris, who wishes to "attract different designers from around the world to have different cultures of designs, different styles of designs," fields requests from 30 to 50 artists each week.