Gus bartholomew

"I want to give brands all the information they need to make an informed choice about their manufacturer, helping them to embed good practice at the heart of their business"

Gus bartholomew


What’s your background? and how does it relate to Supplycompass?


I studied civil engineering and was working in the property and construction industry as a project manager until I set up Supplycompass.  My role was to align all parties to share a common vision and work effectively together whilst driving progress within set time, cost and quality requirements.


One key thing I learnt is that all people are different and they work in different ways - we don't see things as they are, we see things as we are. When parties from different disciplines have to interact, they are often not in tune with one another and lack an understanding of each others' systems of working, visions and constraints. It often leads to tension and confusion that can impact on the finished productI've seen that battle take place between architect and engineer and it's no different for designers and manufacturers.


For these relationships to work effectively, communication and actions have to be undertaken in a manner that both parties understand and agree with - There has to be mutual appreciation of the intricacies of each person's tasks. It stimulates collaboration, allowing better solutions to be found, results in stronger working relationships and ultimately means a higher standard of product can be delivered again and again.


Describe yourself in 3 words

Outgoing. Determined. Positive.


What motivated you to start Supplycompass?


In the age of the internet anyone can find out anything at the click of a mouse. Yet, in these digitally sophisticated and hyper connected times, it still remains very difficult to find a good manufacturer.   It's easier for larger brands to find, work with and develop long term relationships with good manufacturers because they have the expertise, the money and the power to do so. I want to lower the barriers to entry so that everyone has the ability to compete. Every company, regardless of their size, deserves to have access to a manufacturer who is the right fit for them. 


I feel that this lack of trustworthy information and secrecy surrounding manufacturers and suppliers has negative implications for everyone; manufacturers, brands and consumers. Because accessing the right information is hard, it is easier for brands to turn a blind eye to poor practices within their supply chain and plead ignorance.  I feel that brands deserve to be given all the information they need to make more informed choices about their manufacturing partner. I want to help brands be more engaged with their supply chain and embed good practices at the heart of their business that they can be proud of. I want them, from the very start, to ask the right questions and to properly consider how, where and by whom their products are made. 


Why have you chosen to focus in India first?


India is a price competitive world manufacturing hub with incredible breadth and depth of skill. It also caters perfectly for small and medium sized businesses because factories can accommodate shorter order runs. 


What have you learnt since working in India?


The factories we represent here are exemplary on an international level, not only in terms of quality of product and price but also their wider business practices. Free onsite childcare, free staff meals, generous and achievable bonus schemes, community outreach programs, positive discrimination for less able persons - are just a few of the things offered by our manufacturing partners.


What I've learnt is that all of this is achievable whilst remaining competitive on price. Cost will always be a decisive factor when producing but too often people only consider the short-term financial cost, they don't think about the wider impact that only considering the bottom line can have on their business. There is a growing trend showing that consumers care about the provenance, the quality and story of their products. Brands need to be able to react to that. We understand that being responsible has to make business sense and that is what we deliver for our clients.


What skills do you bring to the business?


A friend of mine said to me the other day that my best skill was ‘getting stuff done’ and I don’t think that is far off. I’m very dogged, - I’ll never give up on something until I’ve solved it. But where I see my biggest value to the business is that I am someone who straddles the fence between being an engineer and designer- a creative engineer if you will. It means I can act as a translator between manufacturers and designers and get them talking the same language and understanding each other.


What do you do at Supplycompass?


I’m based in Mumbai and my main focus is scouting out our manufacturing partners and managing the development and production of our brands products. I fly around the country a lot, visiting factories and getting them on board with our mission. I spend time getting to know people in the factories, identifying their skill sets, understanding their capacity and interviewing and filming them so our brands can meet them too! But  being a start-up I naturally get pulled in a hundred other directions too - which is always exciting.


Who do you admire?


The founder of Patagonia, Yvon Chouinard, whose book ,Let My People Go Surfing, left a profound mark on me. Not only has he succeeded in growing his company into one of the most successful and respected apparel companies in the world, he has managed to do it whilst consistently staying true to his core principles. He was doing generous employee benefits, flexitime and employee empowerment before they were even a thing. His passion for only delivering the best product, business philosophy and practices will no doubt influence much of how we do business here at Supplycompass.


What do you do when you aren’t working?


I’m happiest when I’m out exploring and experiencing new things so I feel pretty lucky that my job now involves this in a big way. Aside from this I love creating and building stuff with my hands and enjoy getting in the sea for a surf whenever I can.

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