Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in a clothing line but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Chad Heegaard, founder, and CEO of Cheegs, located in Minneapolis, MN, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Cheegs is a Minneapolis-based apparel company on a mission to outfit the future. Using science and fabric technology, we design collarless dress shirts that are unrestricted by traditional norms. Think NASA temperature regulating technology, wrinkle resistance, stain resistance, and a collarless style that is truly unmatched for versatility.
Tell us about yourself
After years in a position that kept me on the road all the time, comfort and versatility became more of a priority for me. I got into performance fabrics and clothing that provided a feeling and performance benefits that I had never worn before. It became about having less clothing but better clothing, which was more in line with my backpacker's mentality. I ended up leaving the company I worked for and moved to Beijing, China, where I spent the next 18 months of my life teaching, studying Chinese, and trying to learn as much as I could about fabrics technology and the manufacturing of garments. My goal was to create the most high-tech fabric available on the market while offering a new style to men's business apparel (something besides the traditional suit and tie).
Today, we have designed and manufactured our Collarfree Future dress shirt line and have over 1000 customers worldwide. What motivates me is the idea that I can improve people's lives by the clothing they wear. Also, allowing people to move away from fast fashion to clothing that lasts is made sustainably and ethically is a huge motivator. Sustainable innovation in fabric technology is a big part of dealing with the footprint of the apparel industry.
A big bonus and what keeps us going is hearing from customers telling us about the compliments and experiences they have had while wearing our collarless shirts.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Our biggest accomplishment is the design, creation, and delivery of our 2.0 line. We took feedback from our original product line that launched on Kickstarter and made it better. I set out to design a shirt with the most high-tech fabric and a design that would make onlookers go crazy. We designed that shirt and created a style that does just that, providing a new collarless look to an industry that has been stuck in its traditional ways for too long.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
It is lonely, especially if you are coming from a job where you had a team, coworkers, and managers before. You are in control of your world, and if you mess up, it's on you.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Decide who your customer is and create something unique for that customer. Then make sure you know what your "WHY" is, and it needs to be something that resonates with the customer you picked above.
- Come up with systems that are simple and stick with them. As someone looking to start, run and grow a business, it is easy to get distracted and pulled into all sorts of new tools, marketing cheats, software, etc. I find myself getting pulled in different directions and find it helpful to write my mission daily in order to keep that focus.
- Do a lot and know you are going to fail a lot. There is no way to create without hurdles and failures.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
We are currently looking for male brand ambassadors and influencers to partner with to spread the word about Cheegs collarless dress shirts. We are looking for leaders in communities who appreciate quality over quantity. We are not scared to stand out through the crowd.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email firstname.lastname@example.org; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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