From the idea, to day one of launch

Mine and Cat’s journey, or more like Maiden’s journey, started when we were very young.

I was six years old at Barnes cricket club in London. My father had taken us there as a weekend activity. Unfortunately for him we loved it. However, the differences between boys’ and girls’ sport were self-evident - there were 30 boys and me. Even the coach (an ex-England player – we won’t name names), didn’t recognise that I was the only girl in the squad. Until I got my first wicket.

Girls playing cricket

Not much changed when we moved out of London and joined a school in West Sussex. The options for playing cricket weren’t available to girls and we had to make do with rounders (which didn’t feel like a sport to us at all). We were, however, “allowed” to bowl (but not bat because of our lack of kit) in the boys’ nets at break time. Even though the supervising teachers could see that we “could play” – but we weren’t allowed to join a team.

After another year and some badgering, the school let girls who were already playing cricket for their county join a boys team, albeit those who weren’t playing county, weren’t allowed to play cricket. Roll forward another year (Cat having topped bowling averages across the boys’ team), we were finally allowed to have a dedicated girls’ team.

No cricket clothes for girls

During this time, nothing fitted - my father had to endure countless comments of why I had to wear my brother’s stuff. It didn’t fit, it smelt, it was see-through, it was baggy; even the new stuff we bought said “unisex” - really?!

So, aged 14, having a casual family dinner, yet again bemoaning our cricket kit, my father, possibly exacerbated, said well “why don’t you do something about it?” So, we started brainstorming.

Family history

My grandparents were immigrants from Germany, my great grandfather started his own shoe and slipper business, my grandfather and his brother did the same, my father started his own business and his three brothers too, so you could say starting a business runs in the family.

Post brainstorming, we agreed that whilst we couldn’t change the world just yet, we could make cricket kit for girls and this would be the basis and starting point to make the world of girls cricket and girls sport where it rightfully should be.

Learning about fabrics, and designing cricket clothing

So where next? Fast forward to June 2022, we had a holiday in Portugal, near Porto. Previously we’d chatted about the idea and my uncle mentioned he was helping  two girls with their online linen and nightwear business (Secretlinen). They were using a great family-owned Portuguese factory called Bless for their manufacturing and introduced us. So, we took a day out of the holiday (OK it was raining) and we went for a visit. Silvia (another female entrepreneur), showed us round her factory. She had over 70 fabrics on the cutting room table and numerous garments - both sports and fashion, that her factory was producing for different clients.

We were hooked, it was fascinating. We learnt why you use certain fabrics, what treatments worked for different parts of the body - she explained the process, the detail, the requirements. She helped us put together 12 different fabrics that could work for what we were looking for.

Back to the UK, we found Nikki. She was a designer, had worked with multiple brands and been a leading women’s designer. She patiently took us through the “how” of the design process. We worked countless weekends and evenings, redrawing, redesigning and nailing down the features that we needed. We then briefed these to Silvia in Portugal. Samples arrived, we redrew, we redesigned, we repeated again and again. Plus, another ‘working weekend’ back out to Portugal, until we finally had something that felt, looked and performed like a “Maiden Cricketer” should.

Girl wearing Maiden Cricket clothing

Maiden brand is born

In the meantime, we also needed our brand. We worked with Graham and his son Sam (who was studying design). We brainstormed names (credit to my grandfather – well lots of people claimed credit for the name) and settled on Maiden. A nod to the cricketing connotation (maiden over) but also, more obviously, for girls.

Back to Sam and Graham, we had to write a brand brief, who the target audience was, what was the problem we were trying to solve, what kind of personality Maiden is, what insights did we have. We went through four or five brand iterations of defining and honing down on its essence, before then finally beginning to look at colour palettes, logo, type face, etc.

We then had to run a photo shoot and photography - step forward Ricky Knight @ Pickled Egg. I’d played cricket with his son at school. I bored him about our Maiden story, and he agreed to help us storyboard and shoot our first collection. Venues, shoot brief, videos, and every little detail to make sure the shoot reflected the brand and its purpose and soul.

Maiden website build... and launch!

So now we had a product, we had a brand, we had imagery, we needed a website. We found Tom (who’d actually coached Ricky’s son at hockey) who helped build our Shopify website, we chatted to some of my dad’s old developers in Goa and Maiden Cricket clothing eventually born.

Gosh… it’s a learning process, it’s a team effort (like a cricket team), it’s exhausting, it’s frustrating and it’s wonderful. All of this to just get to the start line. There are so many other people we should thank that have helped get us to Day 1. I suspect most people never stop to think just how hard it is to just get to the launch of a product, but here we are, day 1 of Maiden Cricket!

We don’t have big budgets, we don’t have a huge range, but what we do have is bags of passion, a fabulous product and a message that change is coming for girls cricket everywhere.

Honor and Cat xx