Fashion, an industry that is worth £26 billion, make it largest creative industry in the UK*. New brand, new designer is born everyday, and many showrooms to visit during fashion weeks, especially prior pandemic, buyers and press may look glamours but what people don’t know is how competitive and hard work everyone needs to put in to make everything happen.
Today I have my mask on, trotting through Surrey all the way to East London Haggerston, visiting my old friend, old colleague Joe and talking honestly about startup a business, his brand and how the business thrives through this pandemic. A showroom launched early this year, has aspects that many businesses may not even be able to achieve for many years, they have a beautiful East London showroom, a digital platform and even a store within the renowned Harvey Nichols Knightsbridge. Joe opened up honestly and chat about and his business/ showroom Arddun, below is our conversation.
I stepped into a beautiful space, we had our brief friend chat, and Joe was very open and honest about his very first year…
Joe: Starting business this year has been hard and stressful, but we are so small, we can pivot our business multiple times fast, we shed brands that are party driven, we shed brands that need a lots of work. I feel lucky that we managed…This weekend is the first weekend we had some time off, we just keep going…
KF: How did you come up with this unique idea of launching Arddun? And when were you started planning?
Joe: it came in with luck, few brands asked me to look after their sales, I worked in house for many years, and the last three roles I worked, I was dealing with the fell out of the relationship between agencies and brands, not necessarily the agency was in the wrong, it’s the balance between the agency and the brand wasn’t working. I’ve seen it from the other side, and it’s an opportunity and ability to do it better. I know what it takes to run a small business, I know what it takes to run small brand, the cash flow is important. If you don’t negotiate the terms for the brand and if you don’t help them for that first season to make sure the orders get out of the door, even with big companies they often don’t know wholesale.
With many brands approaching Joe, he always asks ‘what do you want to get out of this?’ Based on the answer with the clients, he forms a strategy aim for long term relationship benefits the brand image and sales growth.
KF: When you were planning, did you participate the pandemic? Did you always want to set up a digital showroom?
Joe: No…We are a wholesale agency, that’s the first, that’s our brand and plan. This year we accidentally opened a store, HN presented us an opportunity and many of our brands are known in the US and Australia but relatively unknown in the UK so it’s a branding exercise to be in our store. It’s there to support our brand, also we put money where our mouth is as an agency to tell people to buy our brands, well we also need to know if we can sell them too and we need to know what works and what not. We can speak first hand. It makes our wholesale business stronger too. It’s an accidental project and fun.
In terms of digital, Joe says: ” I want to build a platform that is more exciting, so you can feel the drama, it can also be a platform we can use as a showroom tool and we can use as after sales, it’s like portal. So our platform you can make note, place order, it’s just like a simple on line order. It’s very fluent. We can sell this platform to other brands too”.
KF: What type of brands you are looking for to be apart of your curation?
Joe: We look at brands acknowledge all aspects from suppliers to the make, but not a sustainability driven but everyone is conscious about their brands.
Every brand needs to be unique, definitely not copying someone. We avoid brands who just want to make a quick buck, we can see through that too and that’s not a sustainable business model so we try to avoid it. We like to work with interesting people with nice point of view, everything has to be unique. We are very open to brands we work with, we have womenswear, homeware
KF: What was your biggest challenge throughout the business plan, launch and now? Have you overcome the hurdle?
Joe: Not a big leap down for us. I’ve been in the same Industry in similar capacity for all my life, so parts of it was fairly easy, but like I said, we enter this expecting the worst for the first year therefore I think we are quite prepared. I would suggest for anyone who’s about to launch their own to do the same, don’t except to make tons of money in your first year. The pandemic also pulled us back, our first big season was end of February beginning of March, two weeks later the world shut down, we did okay for that season but then it pulled us back for 4 – 6 months but hey, it’s fine, we budded our way through it.
I guess I was fortunate that I did not launch a business on my own, my partner Ian who is a graphic designer so he managed to help so much from carving out the DNA of the brand when you don’t have a physical showroom and you can’t talk to people in person, we are lucky as a team to overcome this.
This year has been so tough for so many people, sometimes it’s hard to stay motivated, in the early days we wondered if we are making mistake trying to do this in this time period, but just keep going, keep going, keep going, you think you’re losing your mind and I think it helped to talk to other people who started their business two years prior that was helpful.
There are times, you feel you are insane, but taking time off is essential because the business will still be there.
KF: What is your vision for future business now you have showroom, online and brick and mortar?
Joe: Stay organic and natural, I don’t want to make the same mistake as others, growing too big and too fast. This is to me, our baby, we are happy in this lane now. For everyday that is stressful running a business, I am also thankful that I am not reporting into somebody else that is losing their mind trying to keep their company flow, we are in control of our destiny, so from an anxiety perspective that is very important.
We are not rushed, we are not trying to make million bucks, we will keep going so hopefully we will be the go-to agency for brands with longevity and brands that are meaningful and making the right choice.
KF: Advice for young entrepreneurs.
Joe: You will make mistakes, but don’t dwell upon those mistakes, try to move away from them. In a year we made few mistakes and if we hold on to those mistakes it really bring us down. We should know things are not always going as planned, things are not always going to be successful so be open to change, let the wind take you, also try to stay on track. Keep moving forward, keep pushing forward. Be prepared to work as hard as possible!
I am really happy for Joe and with my background and sense of fine design, I have to say I am well impressed with the brands mix and the execution of the project! Well done Joe!!
You can visit Arddun Store locates inside 4th floor, Harvey Nichols, Knightsbridge, London. Or shop via their on-line shop. For brands and retailers who are interested in collaboration with Joe, contact directly via their instagram or website.
* Note from British Fashion Council – click here
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而今天，我興致勃勃地戴上口罩，開心的前往倫敦東部一個叫Haggerston的地方，坐車約兩個小時，來拜訪我的老同事，他年紀輕輕自己創業，成為Showroom老闆。不但如此，他也開了ㄧ家Select Shop, Arddun Store, 位於知名的Harvey Nichols London, 專賣自己簽的設計品牌 ，所以不但當agent, 也賣產品；這還不夠厲害，他們的Showroom 與 Arddun Store 也同時有網路行銷！！！ 現在來看看我與ＪＯＥ 這的對談：
JOE: 我覺得這一切都算是運氣，就是一開始蠻多牌子要請我幫他們做sales，那你也知道我在品牌裡面做了蠻多年了，我上三個職位，等於都是幫agent還有品牌關係做協調，這並不代表示agent做得不好應該是說他們的平衡度沒有調理好所以默契不佳。那我自己就想如果我有這樣的機會的話我一定可以做得更好 ，因為我知道要怎麼樣來開戰一個小的品牌還有要怎麼樣來創造一個小的事業還有在這一個cashpro上也是非常重要的往往很多品牌還有公司即便說他們了解什麼是CASH flow但是事實上他們都不知道。 還有在做品牌的時候如果你不幫他們和大的百貨公司談好條件你如果不幫他們把第一季送的貨送出去，這對牌子來說的影響會是非常的大，但是我也常常看到甚至是大的牌子也不知道是要怎麼樣做批發。
ＪＯＥ： 完全沒有！ 我們就是一個批發牌子的agency，這是我想要自己做的牌子還有就是我的計畫。那今年是一個奇怪的一年我們就意外地也開了一家店，因為harvey nichols這個百貨公司給了我們一個很好的條件那還有我們的拿到的品牌在美國和澳洲算是有知名度的但是對於英國和歐洲來說他們才剛剛開始所以這對我來說開這一間店等於是一個做品牌的策略然後也是讓我們可以支持自己旗下的牌子我們等於是把錢放在自己的嘴巴裡面的，因為很多的批發agency叫人家買牌子但是事實上在店面上的時候賣得好不好是另外一回事，那如果我自己也開了一間店那我覺得能夠真正的可以了解哪些品牌做得好哪些樣式做得好那對我們批發的 sales這一塊也可以做得更好開店這一個Project是完全的意外發生的但是也蠻好玩的。
ＪＯＥ： 我們現在看的牌子是他們對於自己的供應商 製造工廠等等的 都是尊重和確認還有友好關係的，但這不代表我們是一個專門推廣永續性時尚的銷售agent ，可是大家都有共同好的意識。
ＪＯＥ： 你一定會出錯的，但是當你出錯的時候 與其責備自己停留不滯應該是要想要怎麼樣不要再犯同樣的錯誤然後繼續前進。今年我們犯了一些錯誤但是如果我們當時一直不斷想著為什麼會放這樣子的錯誤的確就會讓我們覺得非常的難過還有 自責。我們應該都要知道往往計劃不會完美的成功也不是每件事情都可以非常的成功的做好所以我們必須要對於改變是很開放的讓風帶你走，那也盡量保持正軌繼續前進還有準備非常非常努力的工作。
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