How do I find manufacturers & suppliers?

Just Got Made • 24 Sep 2014

Just Got Made UK suppliers


Firstly, thanks to everyone who came to Just Got Made’s talk at Somerset House last week on “UK manufacturing for designer-makers”. The discussion carried on right up until we got chucked out of the room… it’s clearly a hot topic!

One major concern under discussion was

“how do I find a supplier / manufacturer that’s right for me and my creative business?”

Of course, my first answer was to use the Just Got Made production directory on this very website! But of course Just Got Made is not the only resource you can use Here is a rundown of my favourite ways to find new manufacturers and suppliers.

1 . Word of Mouth

Friends, workmates and colleagues in your industry are a great way to find new suppliers and manufacturers. Talk to people who have similar products to yours or whose work you admire. But be aware that not everyone will want to share this information with you; a good producer is indeed gold dust and for various reasons people may prefer not to share. If this is the case, respect that and move on.

Where to start: Think about your existing network. Can you can buy a friend a coffee and ask them for some advice or contact university friends? Maybe there is someone in your wider network that can help (a good friend of mine regularly sells work at fairs and shares production tips with other stall holders).

2. Trade Shows

It’s a classic approach, but one that works. Trade shows are a great way to meet companies face to face, see samples and arrange meetings.  There are many specialist shows and events to visit according to your industry or area of interest. Be aware that you may need to travel.

Where to start: Be specific and research your particular industry to find the best shows for you as you dont want to waste time and money. Again look at industry blogs, newsletters and journals (I often hear of new events on Twitter). Calendar sites like are also very useful for finding out where to go.

3. Online Directories

There are several great production directories online now, some specialist to industry and some more general in approach. These sites are regualrly updated so put a reminder in your calendar each month to check in and see what’s new.

Where to start: Try looking at (micro manufacturing), (digital manufacturing) and (fashion & textiles).

4. Local Events & Hangouts

Get down to your local makerspace, workshop or craft night. These are brilliant not only for gaining practical knowledge but for meeting like-minded people who can give you advice on supplies and manufacturing.

Where to start: This totally depends on where you live! Look for event spaces in your local area, including cultural centres, art centres, makerspaces, workshops and independent shops. Nothing going on? Start a night yourself and people will come to you.

5. Twitter

This is a great way to find out about new up and coming suppliers. To find them, search for related hashtags and follow industry commentators (magazines, trade bodies, interest groups) to see who they are tweeting about and following.

Where to start: Follow people and groups related to your interest. If they recommend or follow a potential supplier, click through and look at how they do business, if they are busy (a good sign) and see what others have to say about them. If you like it, head to their website for a more indepth look at what they do.

Written by  Helen Kemp – founder of Just Got Made.

What have we missed?! Email to give us your recommendations