CONQUER Lake District
CONQUER Lake District is a local business specialising in the design and creation of awesome hiking patches which are based on the fells right here in The Lake District.
They offer a wide array of designs from low lying fells achievable by all through to some of the most iconic mountains the Lake District has to offer.
When we discovered CONQUER we were like kids at Christmas… The urgency to collect them all, get out and summit the fells we had yet to discover & marveling over what our favourite one might be but in reality being unable to choose!
Then there was the moment of revelation that CONQUER was the brain child and creation of a local Wild Woman, mother and now new business entrepreneur we just HAD to find out more…
I would love to be able to boast a huge family heritage of fell walkers and ramblers. I’m rather envious of people who can pull out a polaroid of great grandpa on Scafell pike in 1960, but that’s not how it is for me. I’m very late to the party.
I’ve always lived on the edge of the National Park and for the majority of my life been oblivious to the wonder that it is. Life was just too hectic to look up and see what was around me. I’ve been a police officer, a very busy Mental Capacity Advocate and in the last few years a stay at home mum. It was at this time that I started exploring the Lakeland fells on my own. My first fell was Rannerdale Knotts, I was carrying a dog lead and a car key, I didn’t even have a drink with me! Let’s just say it was an experience! So, I got myself some basics together, a rucksack, fleece, water bottle, one-woman survival tent! and just had a go. I loved it and it soon became a family activity. There really is nothing more technical to add. It hasn’t led to anything extreme, I haven’t completed the Wainwrights, in fact to say I was even collecting them would leave me seriously lacking. But that’s the beauty of The Lakes, you can explore at your own pace and take the achievements as they come. That’s what our patches are all about. They represent everyone’s moments, whether it’s a first fell, a once in a life time, or actually you’re a seasoned walker waiting for our collection to catch up.
I never anticipated how popular the patches would become. I had no ambitions to become a business owner. It was following an early morning walk up Raven Crag with my husband that we got talking to a couple in their campervan. Needless to say, two months on we too owned a campervan and while my husband was working on having seatbelts fitted for the kids, I was working on the necessities…….stickers, bunting and fairy lights! During my search I came across some vintage hiking patches from Canada and America. They were so cool, and I desperately wanted that retro element for our van but there was nothing out there that represented our National Park, so I had to make them myself. I’ve always been artistic and found that the ideas flowed very naturally. However, I didn’t have a clue about graphic design or the computer programme that I would have to transfer my work to in order to be manufactured. I spent weeks learning from classroom books and the past few months have been a mixture of hard work and winging it!
There have been so many high points to date. Selling out on line, being approached by a magazine for a feature, Kendal Mountain Festival getting in touch and actually knowing who we were! Probably the biggest buzz has to come from all the pictures we get sent of people with their patches. Particularly children who have chosen to spend their valuable pocket money on something that I’ve created and are there clutching them at the top of Catbells in gale force winds with huge grins on their faces. Absolutely nothing compares to that. I would say that is probably what motivates me most in business. I love the engagement with people, and its those interactions that always make me want to do my best. I received an email from a little girl telling me that she had her first holiday to the Lake District and had earned her Catbells patch but that she would also like a Latrigg patch please. So when the patch came out, I sent one to her with a letter explaining the design and which route she might have taken and about the paragliders and even the lady who sells tea and cakes in the car park. I was later told that the patch and letter had been taken to school for show and tell and the little girl had been so proud. I love that. I also see my fair share of photos where the kids are utterly miserable, with mum behind the camera saying, “just hold the damned patch up,” and I love those pictures just as much! Kids can be hilarious.
Being a parent and starting a new business hasn’t been too bad for me (although I’ve chosen not to get my kids perspective on this!) I think starting out can be quite stressful and very time consuming though. In the first couple of months I was opening the laptop at 7am and shutting it well after midnight. My temper shortened a little and I signed reading records without actually listening to the kids read. Ten chapters in one night seemed a little excessive but hey, I signed for it anyway! I have much better working hours now, the computer is still switched on early, but it is shut down by the time the kids get home from school. If I were to offer any advice to parents thinking of starting a new business, it would be to go for it whole heartedly. If you see a great opportunity but you don’t think you have all the skills, seize it anyway and then learn how to make it work. You don’t always have to be the finished article at the start of the journey. Also, cut yourself some slack. Over the last few months my kids have eaten a Pot Noodle or two and have written their names in the dust that’s collected on the mantlepiece and I’ve learnt to be ok with that.
I’m really excited to see what 2019 brings for CONQUER Lake District. It has always been my intention for the business to become rooted in its landscape and to be able to support the amazing people and organisations that donate their time to protecting it. We have already been working with some charities and hopefully next year will see us cement relationships and develop some long-term projects. Obviously, we have lots of awesome products in the pipeline too……….stay tuned.
Check out their WEBSITE to get your hands on your own hiking patch!
For those local to The Lake District, CONQUER Patches will also be on sale over the Kendal Mountain Festival weekend at base camp – go check them out!
Get Outside & Collect them all!!!