To celebrate International Women’s Day 2021, meet one of our inspiring members, Sonia Reynolds, multiple award winner in the innovative textile industry and the pioneering founder of Zephlinear.
Hi Sonia, can you tell us about your project?
Zephlinear is a company creating novel textiles and tools. We currently have two areas of manufacturing which are handcrafted Zephlinear couture items and educational design kits. While we are finalising IP issues, we are focusing the design kits and automating the process of Zephlinear fabrics.
Regarding the design kits, three products are in development using a new technology to entangle fibres and a standalone tool called a fabtangle frame which entangles fibre fast. Two of the kits contain a string of LED’s and wool fibre or yarn which provides a new way to create E-textiles (light up artwork).
The kits can be used by a variety of people from hobbyists to the educational sector to teach STEAM subjects. Science, Technology, Engineering or Maths can be taught using the E-textile kit within an Art-based practice.
Why did you want to create something new and different?
The Zephlinear process of creating a fabric surface provides a fourth method of fabric manufacture. The new fabric is ideal to create E-textiles. The tools we have created are spin off products that provide a method to create felt fast.
Electronic textiles is a growing market due to current and future consumer needs. Currently the process is very much in the experimental and research within academia and expensive to create. Our kits will give schools the opportunity to have access to the new creative process.
Did you face any challenges to overcome?
We faced challenges in research and product development, market research and actual marketing and we gained access to technicians and experts to help overcome this.
STEAMhouse provided business support and financial funding of £2,500 which included purchasing prototyping materials, along with attending scoping meetings organised by STEAMhouse where we were able to gain the right support from an IP professional, providing an understanding on IP and routes to market matters. The BCU Innovation Enabler Funding was also received by the company which focused on identifying the IP and protecting the IP.
What difference did this make?
Access to technicians, experts and development funding has allowed the business to progress considerably. The networking opportunities and community building has provided great support. We are currently finalising the presentation of three E-textile kits and obtaining equipment to prototype the automation of the zephlinear process which will make a huge advantage regarding end cost to consumers. Receiveing support from IP professionals has also brought strength to the business structure and future outputs.
Our new products created include Textile Kits and Commission based new textile products.
How was it received?
Feedback from the kits was positive and it was stated they needed to look more professional in the labelling which is being addressed.
Feedback from the couture clothing was that it had a strong brand but I needed invest time in building the brand via marketing activities.
What difference did it make to your business?
We are building a strong foundation with positive feedback. The opportunity to have professional support and advice has made a significant difference to the business progression.
Sounds great, thank you Sonia and all the best with your innovations!
Check out Sonia’s work here: