What is Dryad?
Dryad is an outdoor sportswear company based in Wales that we set up in 2019. We want Dryad to be a transparent, community-driven company with integrity.
Who is behind Dryad?
Matt's a triathlete, runner, sustainability consultant and outdoors-enthusiast, and Joby is a designer who likes running. We have set up Dryad with the help of some very talented friends but we don’t want Dryad to be about us - we want it to be about our amazing growing community.
Cribyn, Brecon Beacons by Caitlin Turner | @caitlinfturner
Why did you set it up?
I have been working in the sustainability and climate change sector since the early 2000s, the work is fulfilling but I wouldn’t call it rewarding. I am proud of what I have been able to achieve, but for the duration of my career issues around climate and sustainable development have become worse. I wanted to set up Dryad to see if we could build a community to help solve some issues in society while having fun along the way.
During my career to date it has been clear is that women are the first to be negatively impacted by climate change, and that inequalities in the supply chain negatively impact women the hardest.
I have taken part in sports all my life, when looking at participation in sport the inequality is obvious, there are less opportunities for young women to participate in sports and at the professional level in many sports women are still not treated equally to men.
I set Dryad up because I wanted my work to not only be purpose-driven but also fun, I want Dryad to be built on my past experience, I want to build a brand that has integrity, is fair and transparent and enables us to provide opportunities and support women to participate in all sports at all levels.
But what about the clothes?
We want to be the opposite of fast fashion, we want our products to have longevity both in terms of fashion and durability. We want to make the best garments out of the best textiles and with the best manufacturing as possible all whilst ensuring a low environmental and social impact. We partnered with SSEAMS to support us with our vision. The brief for our first release was to create a range of running apparel that was subtle and timeless, taking inspiration from the natural environment.
To make amazing apparel you need amazing fabrics. Innovations in sustainable textile manufacturing are currently creating some fantastic performance fabrics, and for our first range we have chosen to work with 4 pioneering fabric mills. These mills have been selected due to their commitment to sustainability and innovation in recycled fabrics.
Now we have the fabrics what about the manufacturing?
We have been very fortunate to be able to partner with Petratex in Portugal. Not only are Petratex one of the best manufacturers of technical sportswear, they also have a fantastic track record in sustainability.
Dryad story so far…notes from Matt
My sister was the catalyst for me setting up Dryad - she loved running, being outdoors and in nature. I was inspired by her joy at setting up her own art studio, and wanted to set something up myself. If I was to start a company it had to have a purpose and a mission bigger than me, but would play to my strengths and look to address a problem. Barely a week goes past without a news article looking at the negative impacts of fast fashion or high lighting inequalities in various sports. I decided to set up Dryad to see if I could build a community to address these issues.
With a background in international development and sustainability, I see on a daily basis how global supply chains negatively impact women. Being an avid participant in sports throughout my life I am also very aware of the barriers and inequalities women experience in sport. The mission of Dryad is to make the best quality clothing we can in a transparent and sustainable manner, aiming to be the antithesis of fast fashion, and fighting for better equality in sport. All whilst taking inspiration from the amazing Brecon Beacons where we are based.
It’s easy to have an idea, it’s really hard seeing it through. I was fortunate to get plenty of help from Mandy and Peter of the Accelerated Growth Programme - an initiative set up by Business Wales, who provided mentoring and made me put milestones in place to start Dryad. I probably wouldn’t have seen this through without their early support.
I know a lot about sustainability and sportswear, but I was starting from close to zero in terms of knowledge about designing and manufacturing. I needed to find some experts to help me and was fortunate enough to come across SSEAMS. Diane, Angie and Jonn have extensive experience in sportswear design and production, as well as the patience to put up with a little start-up. Thanks for putting up with us Diane and team!
By chance, I met my now business partner Joby and told him about my idea whilst cycling along the canal one day. I didn’t know Joby’s background at the time and it was luck more than anything that I told him what I was up to. The fact that he listened and wanted to get involved was very reassuring. Having someone with Joby’s experience want to be part of Dryad was a real motivator to me and a massive help with the creative direction of the company. I became we and this really helped to move things along. Thanks for coming on board Joby and thanks to Clem (the studio hound) for the enthusiastic welcomes!
So the team was assembled, nothing was going to hold us back… apart from Brexit, Covid and the arrival of baby Morgan (at least one of these was welcome!) It’s now December 2021…it’s taken much longer than expected but we're up and running and ready to go…
We’re looking forward to sharing Dryad with you all.
Abbe, Bex, Elle, Emma, Felicity, Hannah, Helene, Jo, Josie, Lucy, Lucy, Nat and Ruth - for answering all our questions, and giving us the answers we needed to get going. Diane, Jonn, and Angie at SSEAMS for clothing design and guidance. Ana at Petratex for being patient. Penny and Ness for your support.
Pass it on.