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Innovative Luggage: Made in Somerset

Innovation, upcycling, quality manufacturing from the UK: M-24 has it all

Inside an old dairy, on a farm in Somerset, sheets of tarpaulin from discarded lorries are being transformed, ready to travel the world once again in a stylish new form.

Innovative designer Mat Dusting got tired of annual bag shopping. Frustrated with vulnerable boot and ski bags which fell apart moments after their guarantee ran out, he decided to make his own and set up his business M-24. 

M-24 produce a funky, sturdy luggage range, including rucksacks, holdalls and purpose-made bags for skis and ski boots, all made from tarpaulin discarded from old trucks.  

Tarpaulin is an unusually excellent choice of material. Few fabrics can claim to be more durable - M-24's tarp survives more than 200 000 miles hanging onto the side of a lorry before its ready for a fresh start. Equally, few manufacturers can claim to be more sustainable. Turning waste tarp into high quality luggage is a prime example of upcycling - recycling's even more eco-friendly little brother.

Mat hand-picks local leather workers in Somerset to hand-stitch every unique bag, each bearing the story and the marks of their years on the road. Complete with straps made out of old seatbelts, Mat’s innovative design is a real life-saver. Its nigh impossible to find bags that are built to last and look and feel good. Its just as hard to find bags which are manufactured responsibly, with well-sourced materials and appropiately paid and aged workers. Mat found it so hard to find a bag like this, which could carry his ski boots and take a knock or five, that he made one. And then a few more... 

M-24's UPCYCLED BAGS

These unique bags were on sale at the time of writing this article, but may no longer be available. M-24 are constantly creating new bags and never the same one twice - browse their collection.

A Brief History: M-24 

M-24 only started a little over a year ago, when recent graduate Mat decided to try his hand at textiles. In April 2012, he bought a second-hand sewing machine, saved some tarpaulin from bio-degrading very slowly in a landfill and started making ski bags. A month later, Mat found some local sewing experts, with a touch more experience in craftmanship. By July 2012, M-24's first batch of ski and duffel bags were on the market. And they haven't looked back.

At their official launch at the National Ski and Snowboarding Show, M-24 lost 70% of their stock to admiring customers. Mat went on to win the Shell-livewire Grand Ideas Award and has been nominated for the Entrepreneur of the Year award. M-24 are also among the small businesses accredited by Theo Paphitis from Dragon's Den, winning his Small Business Sunday award. This year, Mat began working with the highly successful logistics company and Superbrand, The Stobart Group. Mat is currently developing an exclusive range for the Eddie Stobart Brand, out of the tarpaulin of their lorries.  

M-24 hasn't achieved all this in its first year of life through luck. The company shows that cutting-edge design can tap into old values by creating stylish products which can take a beating and last the years. Eco-friendly and a responsible employer, M-24 even adds a little to the waning manufacturing sector in the UK.

Londoners, tourists and fans of M-24 will be happy to hear that a M-24 pop-up shop will be open on the Kings Road, Chelsea from the 18th - 31st of July.        

Are you an aspiring entrepreneur? A recent graduate, slightly perturbed by the range of options open to you? A self-professed neet?

Take Mat Dusting's advice:

"Think big! Believe in yourself. If you want something…. Go and get it!"

"Start small! Don’t throw money at your idea at the early stages. Test your idea first. Bootstrap your business. CASH IS KING!"

"Want to get your product known? Go that extra mile to create something which people will remember and tell their friends about. Word of mouth is the most powerful form of advertising. Do something extraordinary that people haven’t seen before. They will remember you." 

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