Starting an STO

Jeanette Gustafson, founder of Netty Made, shares her experience of starting a socially-trading organisation (STO). 

Kindred’s support includes socially-trading organisations of all different sizes – including those that are just starting out, and working with people who want to develop ideas for an STO that creates impact in their community. If you’re looking at applying to Kindred in the future, but you’re not quite ready yet, here’s some insights from Jeanette at Netty Made, one of our Women in the Know from Kindred’s work in Knowsley.   

Jeanette started Netty Made in 2023, which makes her socially-trading organisation too young to join the School for Social Entrepreneurs’ Maturing Markets programme, which we recommend to social businesses that want to increase their trading. 

Netty Made founder Jeanette Gustafson

But she’s still doing plenty of work on starting and establishing her business. “Kindred has been nothing but supportive and has helped me so much,’ she says. ‘I am so thankful to Ali (at Gateway Collective) for putting that flyer through my door… That led to my first meeting with Kindred, becoming part of the project and a Kindred member. I’m getting my website sorted now and have rebranded recently… I only had the courage and confidence to rebrand due to the advice, help and support from Kindred and other STOs. Rebranding felt like a big step, but it’s been positively received and I think it now reflects me more as a designer and maker. 

“On the back of the connections I made through Women in the Know I’ve hosted a craft event at The Gateway Collective and have worked with Ali there to find funding for monthly classes with them. I’ve been asked to present workshops in another part of the UK after pushing myself to network more with designers and makers I follow on social media. I’m also heading to Birmingham this summer to teach three sessions at the Festival of Quilts, which is a prestigious event with tutors from all over the world. I only had the confidence to submit my proposals after winning the award from Kindred. Thanks so much for all you have done for me… and I haven’t even got going yet!”

Next, Jeanette plans to start making products that she can sell via her website, run regular craft sessions and build up the workshop side of her business. “It’s exciting,” she says. “I’ve been commissioned to design my first paid-for quilt pattern, that will be featured on TV. This year is all about getting my website and online shop set up, refining and developing what I can offer to my local community and then pushing ahead in 2025. I really do want to inspire people in my community to enjoy sewing as a craft as much as I do. Without Kindred and the belief and confidence they gave me last October at the first meeting I would not have been here at all!” 

Kindred’s Place Lead Chris Spriggs supports STOs across the region who’re just starting out, or developing ideas. She says: “I wanted to share a little of Jeanette’s story here. Since meeting her at an engagement session only last October, I’ve been so impressed with how quickly and successfully she’s developing the plans for her business and how she wants to give back to her community, run workshops locally and connect with other STOs as she builds her own. It’s amazing! Jeanette’s journey is an great example of the wider work we do at Kindred and we wanted to put a spotlight on her and the inspiring way she is growing Netty Made.”

If you’re just starting out or have got an idea for a social business, why not become a Kindred member? It’s free and you’ll become part of a growing movement of social businesses too – click here to sign up.

Find Netty Made on social media:

Instagram and Tik Tok: @nettymade2024

Facebook: Netty Made