Upon Graduating from The Savannah College of Art and Design, I practiced Industrial Design for 6 years. Working for a design consultancy was grueling, and at a point, the long hours began to really effect my home life. Once I had adequate experience under my belt I felt the desire to create something branded under my own name. It's every designers dream to have their own product line. I had a watch, which I designed, manufactured for myself with no intentions of ever mass producing it for a profit. As soon as I posted some images on Instagram, it was clear that there was great interest! So, just days before my wedding, I took a huge risk and quit my job to pursue my passion for Watches.
What were the biggest initial hurdles to building your business and how did you overcome them?
Manufacturing requires a lot of initial capital...which I didn't have. I reached out to family and friends but found it nearly impossible to prove that social media impressions were great enough to rationalize a risky investment. At the time, I had several Design Colleagues launching small campaigns on kickstarter. So I took the plunge and set off to crowdfund.
What books are you currently reading? And your recommendation for entrepreneurs to read?
Honestly, I don't read much. Most of my knowledge comes from blogs and youtube. Hodinkee and Worn and Wound are my go-to's.
Did you ever deal with contention from your family and friends concerning your entrepreneurial pursuits?
How did you handle it? What would you do differently in hindsight?
My family enjoyed the fact that my "real job" offered health insurance and a matching 401K, plus job security. No one understood why I would give up such a great position...Except my wife, who was entirely supportive. She too left the Corporate fashion world to pursue her own apparel line 3 years before my watch venture. So, she understood.
What would you say was the single most influential factor in your business success?
Social media was a great tool for me. It seems simple, but likes and comments reassured me that what I was doing would be successful. Social media acted as my global design criticism. And I took users insights seriously. I also threw myself headfirst into the industry, chatting frequently with some of the industries biggest influencer's. It's very important to have a supportive network to to maintain a positive outlook.
What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started as an entrepreneur?
Nowadays becoming an entrepreneur is becoming increasingly easier. There's an infrastructure of think-tanks and venture capitalists that work together to make ideas a reality. There's also a better understanding for the importance of design. I wish I knew far more about business coming into this. But I leveraged design and manufacturing because it's all I knew. Stick with what you know. The rest will be learned naturally.
What advice would you give to an upcoming entrepreneur locally and internationally?
If you're truly passionate about an idea, don't be afraid to take the risk. Just make sure you follow through with great perseverance.