Welcome to Industry Insider by Behind Sport. Our latest guest is Sportswear and Product Designer, Mat Booth!
Tell us about yourself, what is your current role and what roles have you done previously?
Hello, I’m Mat Booth. Sportswear designer, developer & all-round product nerd. I’m a brand founder, industry speaker/mentor & aspiring creative coach.
I’ve been designing on a freelance basis for the past 5 years whilst establishing UK Made travel goods company Both Barrels Supply Co. Prior to that I worked in-house for ten years in product design/development at Antler Luggage, Umbro/Nike & Warrior Sports/New Balance.
I’m based in Manchester & am passionate about product, sustainability, creativity & innovation.
What do you do in your current role?
My role is both weird & wide! It involves a lot of hat swapping, embracing challenge & thinking ahead whilst also trying to stay afloat. In my role as a freelance designer/developer I am generally involved in concept creation, delivery & factory liaison. My experience allows me to add ‘full service’ value to projects which often suits smaller scale operations. I cover apparel, equipment (bags, gloves, shin guards, balls etc) & accessories.
In my role as the Founder of Both Barrels I am responsible for everything. Design, development, production, sourcing, finance, social media, website content, sales, pop-up shops, order fulfilment & creative direction. This is massively challenging however it’s also all creatively led which at least feels familiar in some of the less well-known areas to design entrepreneurs.
Outside of that I mentor younger creatives, speak at industry/academic events & am developing the idea of a creative coaching service.
I’m always looking for work to support these aspirations. I am open to contact & collaborations.
What does a normal week look like for you?
No two weeks are the same! I generally try to be well planned & organised so that there is allowance for creating serendipitous opportunity & a positively flexible approach to work.
I think working flexibly is something we’ll see much more of as the dust starts to settle after the UK lockdown – hopefully this helps to promote a healthier work/life balance too as sports is an industry which can be very demanding & notoriously never sleeps.
How did you end up where you are right now? When did you know you wanted to work in sport?
I’ve known I wanted to work in sport & design since I was about 14 however sport emerged in my life at about 8 years old. My Dad is a big sports fan & I grew up watching a lot with him – mostly rugby & cricket then football. There’s always been that seed in my mind & the practical, performance application of sports kit always sparked my interest. Obviously I wasn’t strategically planning my career at the age of 8 but the curiosity probably started then & has continued to grow since.
I think I’ve ended up here purely by pursuing a passion. Like most successes, there has to be an element of being in the right place at the right time too. I was lucky that my opportunities were limited by relative academic weakness, so I unknowingly benefitted from a fairly focussed path early on. I went to University in Huddersfield to study Product Design knowing that I wanted to use that as a lever to get a job in the industry. In the 15 years since graduating in 2005 I’ve tried to work on things I am passionate about & with passionate people too. I think that’s a great way to reduce the feeling of ‘work’ within a career.
What are you excited about in your industry at the moment?
I’m very excited about the part sport has to play in a positive, healthy re-emergence from a universally challenging four months. Sport has a creative, collaborative opportunity to bring people together again after prolonged isolation for most. The way sport carries the flag for inclusivity, community & diversity will, I hope, be a positive example for other industries to learn from & adopt.
What is one piece of advice you would give to someone wanting to work in the sports industry?
Be all in. Working in sports can be very rewarding however it requires a lot of passion for the commitment to work to make sense sometimes. Most of the people I have worked with over the past 15 years have been active users, grassroots participants, former professional players or personally connected to the game(s) in someway or another. I think it’s important to be passionate, a team player & be prepared to go the extra mile. A great book to read on this is ‘Legacy’ by James Kerr which looks at the culture behind the All Blacks rugby union team & how they’ve built success on passion, humility & a willingness to do the hard yards.
How to follow Mat Booth on social media…
Website – www.thisisbothbarrels.com
Email – email@example.com
Instagram – @both.barrels
Behance – www.behance.net/MatBooth
LinkedIn: Mat Booth