Graduate: Mat Dusting
Course: Industrial Product Design, graduated 2011
M24 bags are designed from recycled truck tarpaulin. Each bag we make is totally unique because of the variety of lorry curtains (truck tarps) we collect. The handles are made from reclaimed seat belts. To understand the concept fully please visit the website.
How did you get started?
I always knew I wanted to run my own business. While at Aston I started unistash.com, a student clothing company, which gave me my first real taste for running my own business. While on placement at a large multinational company, I realised I didn't want a normal 9-5 job, seeing the faces of people who had been working there for 20+ years was a real eye opener.
After graduating I came back home to the farm in Somerset and began to experiment with making ski bags made from ultra tough materials. (Skiing is a passion of mine and I want to be involved in the industry). I discovered some old lorry curtain (tarpaulin) lying around on the farm and thought it would be a suitable material to design a bag from. I cleaned it up, cut it into smaller pieces and stitched it together. My friends thought it was awesome and requested other bags made from the same material.
Soon after I realised this was a feasible business idea. I pitched my idea to the princes trust panel and received a £2000 business loan. I pitched my idea to my local council and received a £1000 grant to help kick start my business. I used this money to book a stand at "the national ski and snowboard show" Earls Court in November 2012. I sold 80% of my stock at the show and sparked loads interest from retail outlets. This was a real high for me but the months before the show were tough because I was just building stock and not selling anything. I clean and cut all the material myself in an old milk dairy parlor in Somerset, so sometimes it can be tough working on my own.
How has your time at Aston helped you and your business?
Before I came to Aston, my business knowledge was limited, but I found I've learnt the most from being around business students and hearing about success stories of Aston graduates. Seeing people around me start their own business really gave me confidence to do it myself.
I really enjoyed my time at Aston. Being around like minded people really sparks enthusiasm and confidence. The only thing I regret is not joining Aston entrepreneurs.
How is the business going and how are you finding being an entrepreneur?
It is going very well. Local newspapers have published my story across somerset and the south west, I receive emails on a daily basis from people interested in my concept and wanting to become involved. I'm currently swamped with work, trying to manufacture as much as I can.