Hard case

Hard case

Lynnette Prigmore, head of product, Proporta

Lynnette Prigmore, head of product, Proporta

Under the spotlight this month is Lynnette Prigmore, head of product at mobile accessories firm, Proporta. Proporta started officially in 1997 and since then has been quietly innovating in the world of protective casings for mobile devices, from the Palm Psion to the iPhone. Here we find out more about this fun company.

MB: What does Proporta do that sets it apart from all the other product manufacturers out there?

LP: At Proporta we don’t believe in fuss and we do believe in flexibility. We’ve been in the business for 16 years (back when the iPod was a mere brain-child of Steve Jobs,) and because of this we have a history of covering the majority of popular mobile tech devices and not only sticking to the main players.

We’ve lived through consumers purely wanting to protect their PDAs from damage with our cases to them now wishing to accessorise their smartphones to suit their mood, personalities and fashion sense.

We spotted early on that our customers were interested in designer brands in order to do this, so we started working with the likes of Ted Baker, Quiksilver, Roxy, The London College of Fashion, Harrods and a variety of graphic artists.

Our design team pays very close attention to the latest trends and incorporates this into our product lines. Even on our plain leather cases we add a touch of flair to the inside by carefully choosing linings to suit. Protection is still very important to us, which is why we include our trademark screen saving aluminium plate lining in all of our premium leather cases.

We like to add what we call ‘Easter Eggs’ to our products, so if you’re eagle-eyed enough you’ll notice secret promotion codes and added bits of personality hidden in our packaging and accessories. A favourite of mine is Nikola Tesla’s birth date in Roman numerals on the inside of our iPhone 3GS Silicone Cases… Not many people have worked that one out, but we like to think it’s a nice sense of achievement for those who do.

We have a very strong retail presence, both online through our website, and through our bricks and mortar retail channels in the UK, Europe, Asia, the Middle East and the US. I’m confident that if you asked any of our retail buyers they’d sing our praises when it comes to reacting quickly to the market and our fast turnarounds when presented with little notice on major device launches. We’ve been known to have stock in store within a week and a half of an iPod announcement, usually a very exciting time in the office!

MB: Summarise some of the highlights of Proporta’s history, showing what makes this company such a good place to work and to innovate.

LP: One of the biggest highlights has to be what started it all; co-founder, Guy Monson, dropping his Psion after losing his Filofax (that’s how long ago it was) and failing to find a protective case for it in the market. This prompted Guy to meet with university friend, Mike Coombes, and spend the evening in the pub talking about manufacturing a protective case for what were then known as PDAs. We often joke that it must have been a very long night, but really this is what kicked Proporta off to being born and we’re of course all very grateful for Guy and Mike’s insight.

Over the years we’ve been the first (and only) to add a tough aluminium plate to the lining of our premium leather cases, which we’ve been doing since 2003. We’ve also been the first to add antibacterial agents to our silicone cases and mirrors to our fashion collections. This is yet to be proven, but it wouldn’t surprise me if we were also one of the only companies to go bungee jumping to celebrate receiving its first batch of stock back in March 1998. I’m guessing someone couldn’t find the corkscrew that day!

2003 saw the launch of the French version of our website, soon followed by Spanish, German, Portuguese and Italian versions, which although making it quite noisy during the World Cup, does make us a very multi-cultural office (with around eight different nationalities) so that we can offer customer support in person and not through a translation tool.

2007 saw the development of a direct partnership with our manufacturers, which allowed us to become more flexible on design, materials, pricing and quantities; very important to us and our customers.

For me personally, the best bit about working for Proporta is the people and the work ethos. We don’t go home until the job is done and I’ve never seen any company with such a love and respect for the bosses.

Whether it’s our warehouse working long into the night (and sometimes the morning,) in order to send out a new shipment, or our design team sleeping on the sofa in order to get an early start the next day; if you put in the effort you get rewarded by seeing something you’ve been part of out there. And sometimes in people’s hands on the street.

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