Young entrepreneurs share business launch lessons
Quinn Porter shares his recent experience of launching clothing brand Nova at the height of the global coronavirus pandemic and the lessons his team has learned, to inspire other young entrepreneurs.
In the midst of a global pandemic that saw us thrust into lockdown and exams we had worked so hard towards abandoned, my friends and I saw an opportunity. The three of us share a passion for business, a drive to succeed, and good style, so we decided to start a clothing brand.
Unlike many ‘fast fashion’ companies, we also share a desire to protect the environment. Therefore, we elected to do something new – something ‘Nova’. This new (in Latin) way of working means 10% of our profits go to charity and all of our clothes are sourced ethically.
Our journey began with the basics, such as acquiring funding and refining designs. It’s not easy for a bunch of 16-year-olds to find funding during a global pandemic, but we worked hard and won our start-up funds (with a little help from the bank of mum and dad).
Through some long and excited video conferences, we planned our vision and strategy, truly embracing the era of quarantine. Then came the fun of sourcing materials during a business shutdown, tackling the ‘rookie’ errors of buying cheap and so bought twice, but we eventually created our products, to be sold on our shiny, new website.
We investigated many ways to produce our clothes and settled on screen printing as a much more reliable (and stylish) way of branding our clothes.
As our main aim states, we want to have a positive impact on the environment, so we will be sponsoring the Ocean Cleanup, and we also want other young people to be able to have the same experiences we have, so we will also be sponsoring Young Enterprise.
It’s been a real learning experience for us, and our top learning experiences and tips for other young entrepreneurs are:
Don’t buy cheap. It will cost you more in the long run. We learned this lesson the hard way, by buying a cheap heat press. It blew up on the first try. Make sure you don’t buy cheap, and leave room for rookie mistakes.
Ask for favours. Don’t be afraid to ask people for favours, because they may say yes, and if they do, it can pay off!
Do research. Market and product research is vital! When we started out, we knew almost nothing about clothing and the industry, and we quickly learnt that the more you know, the easier your job will be.
Assign roles. If everyone is clear with their roles, your business will be much more organised, and you can move on with the interesting parts.
Work hard. Starting up a brand isn’t easy, but a good work ethic will help.
Listen to advice and have a role model. It’s extremely difficult to succeed with only your thoughts, so make time to listen to other people who could have great ideas.
We have learned a lot so far, and we will keep going. Nothing will stop us from pursuing our passion. The challenges we face will make us all stronger as we continue to make lemonade from our lemon situation.