Indie Corner: Jameson Carter

Founded in 2016 with only £3000, Jameson Carter's growth in such a short time has seen it collaborate with Premier League star Wilfred Zaha. Shortly before coronavirus crisis, we spoke to the founders to learn how they used social media & smart marketing to catapult into the forefront of athleisure.

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Jameson Carter Wilfred Zaha Love Island Jonny Dawson, Craig Tideswell Mike Jukes.
Jameson Carter plans to be an indie retailer and fashion brand that stands the test of time.

If you’ve ever watched any episodes of Love Island or Geordie Shore, then chances are you may have come across Jameson Carter before.

Not bad for an independent fashion brand and retailer that was founded in 2016 by three childhood friends from Cheshire – Jonny Dawson, Craig Tideswell and Mike Jukes.

Jameson Carter has managed to use social media as well as reality TV to catapult into the forefront of the athleisurewear scene. But it wasn’t an overnight success.

When Jonny originally came up with the idea for Jameson Carter, the only people on board were his mates Craig and Mike. He recalls how others were sceptical with their plan, doubting they’d see any financial success from it.

Nonetheless, the trio pushed on. They took no outside loans or investments – instead individually putting up £1000 each from their own savings to trademark the brand name, purchase stock and create a direct-to-consumer ecommerce site for Jameson Carter. They also continued working at their full-time jobs for nine months before they quit to focus on the business.

Jameson Carter team (left-to-right): Jonny Dawson, Mike Jukes, Craig Tideswell

“We would work our nine hour shifts and then go straight home and just start packing and posting orders,” Jonny told Retail Gazette.

“Everything has been organic from day one.”

Just four short years later, Jameson Carter has become a household name on social media thanks to smart marketing, “luck and good timing”. Alongside its own ecommerce site, the indie brand is stocked in Footasylum and JD Sports stores across the UK. In addition, Jameson Carter is forecast to make £10 million by 2021.

The three co-founders continue to be involved in the business every step of the way. Despite this, Jameson Carter’s rapid expansion was a surprise to the guys. The trio admitted that they “always expected to be successful one day, just never this quickly”.

“You’d expect a brand of our size to have 30-plus members of staff when in reality there’s only 10 people who sort and pack stock and one staff member who manages our site and social media,” Jonny said.

Two key factors in Jameson Carter’s rapid rise are undoubtedly social media and reality TV. With the latter, having family connections helped.

Just weeks after Jameson Carter’s launch, Mike’s brother Adam Jukes was gearing up to join the second season of ITV’s reality show Love Island. Seizing the opportunity for free promotion on one of the most watched TV shows in the country, Adam entered the Love Island villa with Jameson Carter hats – the first items in the brand’s range. He and the rest of the contestants were soon spotted wearing them on a daily basis.

https://twitter.com/Jameson_Carter1/status/752601554394505216?s=20


“Back then we didn’t even have a website yet, we were just on Instagram,” Mike recalled.

“Then we kept getting messages after people saw my brother in the hats, I was controlling his social media while he was in the villa, so I just kept tagging Jameson Carter so people knew the brand”.

Mike went on to say that as more Love Islanders wore the hats, people continued to send messages asking where they could buy them. The co-founders said the timing of Jameson Carter’s launch with Adam’s time on Love Island essentially provided them with free marketing and promotion which would’ve otherwise cost thousands of pounds.

“For businesses now, it’s much harder, we’re not saying it’s impossible, but we were lucky with the opportunities that we had,” Jonny said.

Jameson Carter has since collaborated with other popular reality TV stars across social media after Love Island implemented a ban of branded products entering the villa.

The retailer also built upon that success last year when it collaborated with Wilfried Zaha, a star Premier League footballer for Crystal Palace.

The collaboration earned Jameson Carter a coveted spot in JD Sports’s nationwide billboard and TV campaign, with Zaha wearing the brand on 200 billboards across 11 cities.

Jameson Carter x Wilfried Zaha campaign imagery.

The Jameson Carter x Wilfried Zaha collection also saw sales at the retailer grow by 50 per cent compared with previous months.

Since its launch, Jameson Carter has made it a goal to become an athleisure brand with longevity and renown, and the US expansion is just part of it – it is already set to have products stocked in JD Stores across 30 states this year. In addition, plans are afoot to expand its current womenswear range and expand into sunglasses, accessories and trainers.

“We’re focused on the longevity of the brand, we want to be here in 10-15 years,” Jonny said.

Mike said: “With our brand name and logo, we see ourselves as the next Tommy Hilfiger/Calvin Klein type of brand.

Craig added: “We’re offering premium clothing but at an affordable price point.”

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