Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in clothing but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Shawn Graham, Founder of Clothes By Graham, located in San Diego, CA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Our business is Clothes By Graham, your home for ethically and sustainably made fashion essentials and streetwear. Shirts, joggers, and hoodies are just the tip of the iceberg of what we offer, though. You'll find crop hoodies, sweat shorts, duffle bags, bomber jackets, and much more! Our customers are men and women who are tired of fast fashion or overpriced "premium" brands as we offer high-quality clothing built to last, but without the premium sticker price.
Tell us about yourself
I started as a teenager mowing lawns to buy design software; luckily, those designs never saw the light of day as they weren't great. But it gave me the experience and confidence to get involved in fashion. In 2019 I was having trouble finding a clothing brand that looked and felt good on me, that lasted longer than a few washes and didn't cost an arm and a leg. It didn't exist! I realized a lot of my friends had the same issue, and that's how Clothes By Graham was born. To start, we had a simple mission of providing premium essentials at everyday prices for effortless style. That's still our mission today, but we've proudly added on to ensure our products are made ethically and sustainably in the USA. Motivation for me is making a positive impact on the community. On the surface, creating jobs in the US and providing high-quality clothing that won't shrink and fade and end up in a landfill is a great start. But the confidence a person can gain from putting on that piece of clothing that fits just right, shows off their features and feels great is a wonderful feeling that everyone should have and shouldn't just be for people that can afford to pay $40, $50, or even $60 for a shirt.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Our biggest accomplishment is forcing positive change in the fashion industry. We've offered free returns and size exchanges from the start, which was unheard of at the time but now is becoming more common, which is a huge win for customers. Also, customers see the quality of our products and that they're made in the USA, and yet our products are affordable. As we grow, we hope to continue to show people that you can make high-quality, affordable products in the US.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Being prepared for the unknown. No one saw COVID coming, and it forced businesses to adapt or go out of business. Then supply chain issues came up; now businesses are dealing with inflation and rising costs and determining if they can or should eat that cost or pass it along to their customers. None of these issues were things I anticipated or prepared for, and how your business responds can sink your business if you don't make the right decisions.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Start! The hardest part is always just getting started. It doesn't need to be perfect, just get started and learn and grow along the way, and don't forget it's a journey, not a destination.
- Chase excellence, not perfection. Perfection is unachievable, and chasing it will slow you down and reduce morale. Excellence is achievable.
- Don't be afraid to ask for help. I'm a solo founder but have received so much help along the way. The best part? The help was free! There are tons of founders that you can connect with on various platforms that are eager to help out. Myself included! As they say, "my DM's are open."
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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