Amanda Marshall is the founder of 3 Donkeys, a company that she runs whilst juggling life as a mother to 5 children. She’s not afraid to get her hands dirty, literally, and the company was born out of a frustration with the lack of products on the market for women who work hard in farms and stables.
She carried out market research and had numerous conversations with other females that she knew in similar working environments – farming, equestrian, dog walking, gardening – even painters & decorators. It soon became clear there was a gap in the market – and demand was high and that is when she decided to launch 3 Donkeys.
So, in 2017, she set about designing a coverall that was totally practical, adaptable, and versatile, looked good and kept her clean too. And, as they say, the rest is history.
Here, Amanda tells us more about animals being her therapy, her plans for the future and more…
Q) Tell us about the journey that lead to you launching 3 Donkeys
My 3 Donkeys journey started shortly after the birth of my 3rd child Roberta in April 2007. Alongside my rather eclectic mix of animals (horses, alpacas, donkeys, to name a few) I had a small flock of Shetland sheep and during lambing I practically lived in coveralls, they were the conventional men’s all-in-ones. It was a constant struggle to remove them in a hurry and they were the worst fitting clothes I have ever worn. I looked for a women’s alternative and could only find a slightly better fitting version of the men. This however did not solve the ‘removing in a hurry’ issue. It was at that point that my design first, popped into my head. However, family life got in the way and my design was put to the back of my mind for another day.
Fast forward to 2017 and I started to notice more women asking on social media about a ‘true alternative’ to men’s coveralls. After extensive searching on the internet both nationally and globally, it soon became apparent that no one had produced one. I asked as many women as I dared without releasing exactly what I had planned and with the help of a some amazing friends and a few skype meetings between Devon and Australia, my design was a reality and ready for the legal journey of registering etc and the task of thinking of a name started in Ernest. Anyway with the rejected name pile growing and no obvious name jumping out at me, the same friend who helped on the skype calls saw a post on my personal Facebook profile of my donkeys Teabag, Woolley and Dave running off (in the opposite direction that I wanted!) and messaged me with, ‘what about 3 Donkeys?’.
It immediately clicked for me because we are a family business and although only Teabag and Dave are related (mother and son) , the 3 Donkeys are like a family unit. Donkeys are also known for being doggedly hardworking, like our coveralls.
2017 and 2018 saw many prototypes during development for trials. It was made harder because of the fact that it was a completely new concept for coveralls, with the full length waist zip allowing for not only easy removal but being able to wear the jacket and trousers independently and the fact that I wanted to be able to zip them together when wearing them. They were trialled extensively by women not only in farming, but at stable yards, competitions, dog walkers and gardening. I finally had a coverall which was functional, versatile and feminine.
Q) Talk us through an average day in your life…
An average day in my life starts with 3 school runs. I have 5 children ranging from 6-year-old twin boys, 2 daughters (12 &16) and my oldest son who is 18 (and about to start his university journey). Followed by posting stories on our social media profiles. I am very fortunate that I have lovely friends who help me with my animals, which allows me to concentrate on 3 Donkeys. Mornings are generally spent catching up with emails, discussing what is on the daily to do list with my parents who are also an integral part of the business, this mostly fuelled by cups of Tea. I usually head into my shed or 3DHQ as my children named it, in the afternoon sorting out stock, packing orders and jotting down new ideas. The afternoon school runs often come around far too quickly followed by sorting out supper and helping with homework. Sitting around the kitchen table to eat is one of my favourite times of the day as I love to hear what everyone has been up to.
Q) Do you plan on expanding the range in the future?
I currently have tall and petite versions of the classic in development with the hope to release them a little later this year.
Q) Your business was founded because you couldn’t find this product on the market. What research did you. Do before launching?
I spent time researching in shops (mainly agricultural and equestrian), extensively online both on uk sites and global ones and the uk intellectual property office. I also asked many women who use coveralls, finding out what would be on their coveralls Wishlist.
Q) Looking back, is there anything you would do differently?
There are so many things that I would do differently now, however at the time I knew nothing about the industry or indeed the process and started my manufacturing journey visiting Manchester and many of the fabric manufacturers there, which fortunately led onto meeting our pattern cutter and in turn our coverall manufacturer.
Q) Being eco-friendly and sustainability is important to you, can you tell us more about your mission…
I really believe that we all have a duty to be as eco-friendly as possible. With this in mind our packaging is plastic free and reusable, recyclable or compostable. Our coveralls are all made in Britain using the best materials possible – for example our Dartmoor coveralls are made from 100% Ventile® weatherproof cotton and are made to last, thus reducing our fashion footprint.
Q) Who is your ideal customer?
Our ideal customer is someone who has the desire to keep their clothes clean and dry but not compromise on quality, style or femininity, at work or leisure.
Q) Our readers love to travel, what destination is at the top of your bucket list?
I love to travel and one day I hope to see more of America and visit a rodeo along the way.
Q) What does self-care mean to you?
I have found starting 3 Donkeys® to be a real emotional rollercoaster, especially with my lack of business knowledge and starting from the bottom. I am very fortunate that I can go and spend time with my horse Tia and labradoodle Hattie when I need some Me time, to relax and refocus. Animals really are the best therapy.
Q) What quote do you like to read when you’re lacking motivation?
The quote I often tell myself is ‘If you opt for a safe life, you will never know what it’s like to win’ by Sir Richard Branson. It always helps spur me on when I need a little motivation.
Q) What are your plans for the brand in 2020?
My main goal for 3 Donkeys® during 2020 is for our brand awareness to continue growing as it has done, I always have so many ideas of new design features and materials to use which will come along as we grow. I really am excited for what this year holds.
Find out more about Amanda and 3 Donkeys…