Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in fashion but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jan Brabers, founder of FashionNet, located in Toronto, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
FashionNet is a consultancy agency, which sets-up new wholesale markets in North America and Europe for fashion brands who want to expand their businesses. For example, if a Canadian brand wants to grow their business and enter the European fashion market, FashionNet will establish everything from wholesale structure, logistics, and matchmaking with agencies and distributors, to launch strategies – the perfect tool-kit for brand growth.
Tell us about yourself
I started my first fashion company when I was 23 years old, coming from a very entrepreneurial family, with a long history in the European fashion industry. Two years ago, I moved from Amsterdam to Toronto, just two weeks before the pandemic started. Due to this, I was forced to close my business in The Netherlands, relocating and essentially, restarting my business in Canada. In Toronto, I met Mark Boloten, a well-known figure in the fashion wholesale industry and together, we created the concept of FashionNet within only one month.
Although starting a new company during these trying times is scary, our drive to build a company and see our vision come to light, outweighed any fears. As a business owner, you strive for nothing but great success for your company, and by working hard, with a bit of luck, anything’s possible. FashionNet was founded at the right place, right time. This was due to the fact that all of our initial clients wanted to grow their sales, but were, and still are, unable to travel freely and safely. To see what was once a small company, growing so fast in the last one and a half years is so exciting, only encouraging and motivating us for the future.
Meeting new people from all over the globe and learning from their versatile experiences has opened up my eyes, changing the way I do business. Adapting to different cultures and habits, is what makes it possible for us and our brands, to thrive. In such a short amount of time, the FashionNet team has grown from two people, to seven, and we still continue to network and gain new colleagues every day. It’s so amazing to see the passion our team encompasses, having come together from different backgrounds, with different ideas and visions of the fashion industry, working as one seamless, collective group.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
It is hard to answer this question. The accomplishments of FashionNet are not only my accomplishments, without Mark and the team, FashionNet would not be what it is today. When I take a step back, and look at the company I co-founded just two years ago, I am incredibly proud of what it stands for, the amazing clients it has acquired, and the great recognition it has gotten from peers in the industry.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Simply starting a business is the hardest part, as you (normally) don't have any guarantee of income, uncertainty of what the future will bring, and often need to invest your own personal time and money. Even with the best business plans, there is no 100% guarantee for success. Owning several companies with several challenges, prior to establishing FashionNet, really prepared me to be realistic and focused in this journey.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
1. Focus on being the best in one specific area.
2. Be realistic in your strategy and planning.
3. Be fair and honest in business (reputation is hard to make, but easy to break).
Canada is a great country, with great brands. For this reason, I would love to discover and work with more Canadian fashion brands moving forward.
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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