Repair, not replace

Oct 20, 2023 | Sustainability

To celebrate International Repair Day, our star BLUNT technician, Trinity Whyte, reflects on our extensive repair history and how the future of our Service Centres will bring more brands into the repair space.
Repair has been a part of the BLUNT story from the beginning.

Since our inception in 2006, we have repaired approximately 9,000 umbrellas across three markets, and sent out just over half that in spare parts for at home DIY repairs.

To celebrate International Repair Day, we are looking back at our rich history of repair, and how the future of our Service Centres will bring more brands into the repair space.

We stand for a different kind of relationship between person and product.

Rather than the wastefulness of mass-consumption, we have a vision of consumers investing in quality, repairable goods. 

A BLUNT is both physically and emotionally durable: the use of premium materials and design is woven with a sense of protection and security when used. The more people value their products, the more they look after them, and this is further nourished when the umbrella is repaired. We advocate for a kind of ownership based on a sense of responsibility from both the brand and the customer.

Using what we already own, and repairing when things go wrong, has far greater emissions savings than buying a brand-new product. We want to inspire conscious consumption, slowing down, and building value over time.

Currently, we have three Service Centres, in New Zealand, Australia, and the United Kingdom, and are working towards a fourth in the United States. All have the parts and expertise to fix any issues with our current models and almost all of our past models as well!

This is repair accessibility at its best.

People are thrilled seeing their umbrella fixed before their eyes, and many learn more about their product through the experience. This is truly Engineering Joy.

Walk-ins make up the majority of repairs done in our Auckland Service Centre, and most of the time, we can do the repair on the spot! Repairing a BLUNT can take from 30 seconds up to 20 minutes, with most repairs taking under 10 minutes.

Simple and small issues, such as a missing cap, can be solved by customers ordering parts, which we send out from these centres. We are also working with BLUNT retailers in key cities to stock these parts, eliminating the emissions associated with shipping from our Service Centre.

Analysing the repair data also allows us to closely monitor how our products are performing while in the elements. With this information, we can make little tweaks, and have witnessed the positive impacts of continual improvement to the BLUNT design.

The design and end of life phases are the areas we have the most control over, and are therefore investing heavily into operating sustainably in these areas. Customers can reduce the carbon footprint over the lifecycle of a product between 30-50% by having it repaired rather than replacing it, and we want to be there for the customer to make this happen.

Our ultimate plan is to have all repairs able to be done by the customer. If something goes wrong, we simply send a component and you pop it in yourself - as easy as Lego.

Evidently, we want to see the repair of our products flourish further. This resonates with several other New Zealand companies, leaders in their product categories, brands that Kiwis turn to for quality and conscious design.

BLUNT is driving the formation of a Repair Cluster - A group of likeminded companies looking to solve the repair challenge together.

Modularity, durability, and repairability in product categories that traditionally do not focus on these qualities is the innovation we, and other NZ companies, bring to consumers. Collaboration is the key to problem solving, and it is crucial to designing out post consumer waste. New Zealand is a small country, especially compared to big export markets like the United States, and executing a repair model locally is already a significant challenge.

The aim of the Repair Cluster is to share knowledge, talk about the challenges of a repair program, create guidelines for product repair, and drive genuine collaboration between like minded companies.

Building on our current platform of repair, this is the next step in gaining more momentum towards a ‘repair, not replace’ future. We have a vision for local Service Centres that can repair all things, from your umbrella to your handbag, tent, pram, and wet weather gear!

Stewardship schemes are difficult to execute, however we see collaborative repair as an opportunity to increase the positive impact of our brand’s ethos. New Zealand can be a hub of innovation that is genuinely good for the world but we can only realise this if we work together.

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