Enduro Mag come to Banana Industries
With a slogan inspired by a Gang Starr classic and a logo that goes against all the rules of marketing design, you might be forgiven for dismissing this Sheffield based company as doomed to fail. However, the two-man business that is Banana Industries is proving the doubters wrong and using its brand to bring its eco-conscious ethos to the mountain biking world.
We roll into a small layby off the main road, outside a tall, red-brick building. Looking across the street there is no sign suggesting we have come to the right place. Confused, we look around for some clues. “Surely a company like this would at least have a sign in front of their door?” With no leads to go on, we decide to pick up the phone and call Tom (one half of the company). “Aw yeah, give me a second! I’ll come down and let you in!” he tells us over the phone. A few moments later, the door swings open and Tom greets us with a grin. “I was going to leave a sign out for you guys, but to be totally honest, we’ve been so busy that I forgot,” he admits as he welcomes us in.
We quickly find out that the building we had parked in front of is home to many different businesses, each with their own unit. From an outsider’s point of view, it may be hard to believe that Banana Industries is in fact a two-man company. Their website is neat, their social media game is on-point and the range of products they offer is vast. So how does an “industry” fit into two small rooms of this old red-brick building? We were about to find out!
There’s a big difference between how people perceive us or think about us and how it really is, because they look at the website and think, ‘This can’t be two guys?!’ because it’s done so well. But it is!
Fabio and Tom are the two men behind the company. Their dream of creating their own company started during university. Fabio was studying digital marketing, and Tom was an environmental science student. As with most business ideas, things started off at a small scale – the pair starting printing their first tees in Fabio’s attic with a heat press and a sublimation machine. After their studies came to an end, it was decision time. “One thing I always say is that if you want to do something you have to commit 100%, otherwise there is no point!” Fabio explains. Upon deciding to pursue their dreams, Fabio and Tom both started part-time jobs in order to finance the start-up but soon realised that it would take 100% commitment to make this dream a reality.
Me and Tom are like Ying and Yang by the way – complete opposites but best mates! I’m the guy that organises everything and Tom just gets things done however he sees fit.
Then, one day, Josh “Ratboy” Bryceland and the rest of the infamous 50to01 crew walked through the door. As soon as 50to01 started selling their clothing through Banana Industries, order numbers went through the roof! However, Banana Industries’ own brands, Wild Roots and Banana, were seeing little growth. Due to the unexpected demand for 50to01 merchandise, despite high sales, Tom and Fabio were splitting the profits 50/50 with 50to01 and were still covering shipping, tax and production costs. The ever-increasing workload and minimal turnover lead to a point where Banana Industries was struggling to stay afloat.
We went through a period where we realised that things weren’t going to work like that for much longer. We were selling so much, working so hard and literally being in the minus.
In order to turn the tide, Tom and Fabio decided to turn their company and the increasing amount of artists and athletes they were working with into a collective. This meant that both profits and costs were shared equally.
We share everything, we’re one company with different themes. Everything is produced the same, we use the same blanks and materials. That way we can fairly share the real profit and make ends meet!
With an ever-increasing amount of influential and loved athletes such as 3dumb and Veronique Sandler as well as groups like 50to01 on board, the newly formed collective found its feet again and business started growing for Banana Industries. The company could now share their assets, materials and production methods between all brands, as well as production costs and profits. “That’s what the collective is… You join the collective and we share everything from marketing to designs to printing and products.”
As two nature-loving individuals, Tom and Fabio had a strong view of what their company’s environmental ethos should look like. Their aim was to keep Banana Industries as sustainable and eco-friendly as possible, using organic cotton and even making their packaging process as recyclable as possible. All of their blanks are traceable and come from responsible and sustainable sources.
It’s a fashion now to be eco… Everything now claims to be eco, except it’s not! We make a big effort! It goes so deep, even the tape we use is recyclable. And despite that, we still can’t be 100%…” – Fabio De Giuseppe
While their journey has been full of ups and downs, the underlying vision stays the same – the main focus is on customer satisfaction and production quality. Fabio and Tom are keen to state that Banana Industries is all about the product, not the image associated with it. That ethos has paid off and now their company and the collective, upon having recently employed a third member of staff, is preparing for the next big step. We can’t tell you what it is yet, but the boys have some big things planned!
Seeing a small brand like Banana Industries putting so much focus on quality and environmental sustainability is a breath of fresh air in a world of consumerism and wastefulness. Tom and Fabio have brought their company from rock-bottom to a rapidly growing success by caring for their customers, staying true to their roots and being kind to the planet. Should other brands be taking note?
For more information head to bananaindustries.co.uk
Cultivate, multiply, motivate, or else we’ll die – Gang Starr
Words & Photos: Finlay Anderson