‘Awesome’ Leeds business gets merchandise deal for European Capital of Culture 2023 bid

Leeds council have signed up a local firm Awesome Merchandise, to exclusively produce the merchandise for Leeds 2023. Pictured Luke and Charlotte Hodson.
14th June 2017.
Picture Jonathan Gawthorpe
Leeds council have signed up a local firm Awesome Merchandise, to exclusively produce the merchandise for Leeds 2023. Pictured Luke and Charlotte Hodson. 14th June 2017. Picture Jonathan Gawthorpe
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A Leeds business which started as a “low-fi” student operation creating badges for bands in Hyde Park has won an exclusive initial merchandise contract for the city’s European Capital of Culture 2023 bid.

Awesome Merchandise, based at Wellington Road Industrial Estate, is providing bags, badges, notebooks and more for events, roadshows and business packs.

The company, set up by Luke and Charlotte Hodson, has been asked to provide the first 2023 bid orders for Leeds City Council until at least July 2018.

Mr Hodson, 31, said: “A lot of the stuff we are doing is going out locally so it’s nice it’s being made locally as well.”

He added: “Leeds has improved loads in the last five years in terms of stuff going on and it’s a core thing to encourage over the next few years.”

The pair started creating badges in a student house on Kensington Terrace, Hyde Park, around 12 years ago and along with employees – who are now 70-strong – have since produced about 50 million items.

For two years they sold products through online message boards and social networking website Myspace as a way to earn money while studying law without having to get a job.

Speaking about starting up, Mr Hodson said: “It was pretty low-fi and unglamorous - not that it’s glamorous now.”

A “turning point” for the fledgling design team came when it received a 80,000 product order from comedian Bill Bailey. The company was named after a song by ska-punk band Reel Big Fish.

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