The story (so far)
My name’s Hugo and I used to work as a chef in London and ran my own restaurant for a few years.
Cooking in kitchens, I got through a lot of knives. My friends often asked me where to find the best knives that were high-quality but wouldn’t break the bank. I never had a go-to answer for them and I was constantly on the lookout.
After closing down the restaurant, I started thinking about my next steps and thought back to the “perfect everyday knife” question.
Of course, Japanese blades are incredible, but often people weren’t willing to spend that much on them or look after them. Then you’ve got the big, commercial players but none of them are particularly exciting and the blades are all more or less the same (stainless steel with a virgin black plastic handle).
It got me thinking whether I could make a super sharp knife for the chef, that was more accessible and had loads of personality and character.
Having seen first hand how much plastic waste was produced in the kitchen, I felt there could be an opportunity here. So I thought, what if I could give all this plastic waste a second life… in a knife handle.
As I researched the plastic waste problem more, I was shocked to find out that most of what we think we “recycle” actually ends up going to landfill or incineration.
‘In fact, a staggering 74% of plastic waste gets taken to landfill or incineration each year, with only 9% actually getting recycled.’
So I started experimenting in lockdown. I moved in with my parents in Norfolk, England and set up a workshop in their garden shed. I got out my old toastie machine (from my restaurant days) and started melting plastic milk bottle lids to try and create handles.
After months of researching different methods, building machinery and experimenting with different handles, I’d made my first upcycled handle from milk bottle tops. It was a start.
Then there was the blade - the most important part. Having used Japanese knives in the past, I knew nothing compared to their sharpness and durability and I personally love the blade shapes. I spent months researching forges all over Japan, and located a fourth-generation forge in Sakai that I wanted to work with.
The blacksmith was called Yoshikazu and he was regarded as one of the best knife makers in Japan. After several meetings and lots of translated zoom calls they really liked the recycling element of the business and said they would be willing to work with me. This took some convincing, as typically you would not stick a plastic handle on a forged knife.
Finally, in March 2021, I received my first sample blade from Sakai and made my first prototype Santoku knife - an all-rounder chef’s knife. The handle was made out of old plastic plant pots, because in covid there was a huge rise in people buying house plants, which led to a rise in wasted plant pots. Ironically, the majority of plant pots go to landfill because of their black colour.
To test the market, I set up an Instagram account and announced the release of a small batch of 100 knives. To my surprise, they sold out in 76 seconds.
And so Allday was born.
The feedback I got from customers was incredible - they loved the sharpness, the weight, the colours and the recycled plastic handle.
So I started to sell batches every three months, experimenting with different types of blades and other sources of plastic waste.
For the second batch in June 2021, Abel & Cole reached out to me asking if I would collaborate with them and turn their broken and disused plastic milk bottles handles.
In August 2021, as part of Batch 3, I camped off the northwest coast of Scotland to clean beaches and collect old fishing nets for the next batch of handles. Julien and Connor at Plastic@Bay taught me a lot about the scale of plastic waste that comes onto the shores every day and it was shocking.
Each batch started selling out faster than the last so I decided to launch a Kickstarter in April 2022 to take Allday to the next level. We hit our target in 3 hours and ended up raising 160% of the initial goal.
Fast forward a few years and we are now a team of five, myself, James, Lily, Will and my dog Pickle, in our workshop in Dalston, London. And I am proud to say we are working with some of the most unbelievably talented knife makers and craftspeople from around the world to make our kitchen goods.
If you’ve read this far, thanks for showing interest in our small knife company - this is just the beginning and we really appreciate your support!