The man who brought tai­lored swimwear to the masses re­veals how to get ahead in business

Emirates Man - - ADVERTORIAL -

I didn’t have a game plan when I started I had no ex­pe­ri­ence of the fash­ion in­dus­try and had never run my own business. We were one of those typ­i­cal small busi­nesses that launched from a spare room and we didn’t have big in­vest­ment. I did a three- day start- your- own- business course and a one- week draw­ing course and fol­lowed that up with 18 months of sourc­ing and nd­ing fac­to­ries and fab­ric sup­pli­ers, and dis­cov­er­ing how I could get a prod­uct made.

I had the idea for Or­lebar Brown in 2005 I’d been sit­ting by a pool and went to lunch and thought it stupid I’d been asked to change out of my swimwear. So I thought I needed a short I can swim in. Or­lebar Brown is a tai­lored ap­proach to swim shorts – we are the an­tithe­sis to the baggy boxer short and board shorts.

You need to stand out from the crowd When you start a business, it’s all about nd­ing a clear voice. I only cre­ated four styles, in ve colours, and in four sizes. We kept it very small. In hind­sight, start­ing a business with no money was

But at the time it was born out of ne­ces­sity. I could only pay to make those four styles of shorts, but that made it easy for cus­tomers to un­der­stand the brand.

It’s all about hus­tling I launched in 2007 with just 1,000 pairs of shorts and I was the only per­son in the company for two years. I started with a small web­site and just got it go­ing from there. It’s all about hus­tling. It’s about sit­ting in Star­bucks and try­ing to sell to friends, and drag­ging a suit­case around the shops. It’s the hus­tle men­tal­ity: you have to re­mem­ber ev­ery sale counts. We now have 70 staff and seven stores, with ve in London.

The cus­tomer is king In­ter­ac­tion with the cus­tomer and un­der­stand­ing what they want is so im­por­tant, oth­er­wise they’ll never come back. But I’ve also found that if you ad­mit to mis­takes and lis­ten, peo­ple will give you the bene t of the doubt.

Ev­ery company makes mis­takes And one thing I’ve learnt is you only run out of cash once. The stress in­volved with a tiny company, when you run out of cash, means you do ev­ery­thing you can never to run out of it again. But when you make mis­takes it means you won’t do them again, and one bonus of do­ing them when you are smaller is they are less vis­i­ble. That’s not to say we don’t some­times make mis­takes now.

You have to live your business It’s fun. You have to en­joy it. If you don’t, it sim­ply won’t hap­pen. It won’t be a suc­cess. If you don’t live it ev­ery minute of ev­ery day, it will fail.

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