Natalie and Matt Cromie are the married business partners who launched the ethical Italian watch brand WeWood into the UK last year. It all started very simply.
Natalie says: “A friend from Australia came over to visit and was wearing a WeWood. They are a very popular and well-known brand down under and we were just fascinated by the brand, the design and the concept. We had to know more so we contacted WeWood in Italy and put in a pitch to represent the brand in the UK.”
And they won. The duo – whose joint CV includes running a successful beauty salon, a two-AA-rosette restaurant and internet marketing businesses – deserve immense praise for spotting the brand’s potential so quickly. Because what’s particularly fascinating about WeWood is how it appeals to so many markets at once.
Natalie says: “We have a really unique product as our watches fall into a few different categories. We feature heavily within the fashion market as lots of celebrities have been spotted with a WeWood on their wrist. Also we suit the eco market as well as the medical market as our watches are completely hypoallergenic and so suitable for people who cannot wear normal watches as they may have a nickel allergy or sensitive skin.”
The brand has been picked up by fashion retailers as well as jewellery and watch specialists, all beguiled by the unique look of the recycled or reclaimed wooden watches and the eco-friendly story behind the brand, which works with tree planting partners the American Forest Organisation and Trees for the Future to plant a tree for every watch sold. Since the first watch was made in Florence, Italy, in 2010, the brand has planted 150,000 trees globally, including 5,000 in the UK.
Natalie says the duo is aiming for 100 UK stockists by the end of 2013. The biggest challenge, she says, has been simply getting the word out and getting people to “get their head around” the concept of wooden watches. But it is happening. “Once people do buy a WeWood they generally buy more than one,” she says. Good news for the duo, retailers and forests.
WeWood distributors Matt and Natalie Cromie were CMJ Brand Champions in the WatchPro Hot 100 2013 in association with The Company of Master Jewellers. To read a digital version of the book in full online, click here.