Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in clothing but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Chris Fort, Owner of Habilis Supply Co., located in Alhambra, CA, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

I design and produce graphic tees for national parks, trails, and mountains. I aim to celebrate the natural outdoors. Our customers include anybody that's into an active outdoor lifestyle. I would include anybody who enjoys hiking, skiing, snowboarding, climbing, camping, biking, and backpacking.

Tell us about yourself

I first got into design in college. I was studying anthropology but had a friend enrolled in a nearby design school who turned me on to the profession. I had always been into art and drawing as a child, but I hadn't really considered it as a job I could do until I decided to try a few classes at my university's extension classes at night. I fell in love and secured an internship with a teacher. That teacher found me a job at a small start-up clothing company he had done some work for. After working in various aspects of the clothing industry for about 20 years, I decided it was time to combine my passion for the outdoors with my love of drawing and design. It never feels like the right time to quit your job and start a business. It was scary, and I didn't really have any foundation in running a business, but I decided to go for it, and it worked out well.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

I think my biggest accomplishments as a business owner have been learning the ropes and meeting all of the weird and new challenges that pop up from day to day and week to week. My company is still small, so I handle nearly every aspect of the business myself. Stepping up to meet new challenges is exciting, and I'm happy to be doing that.

What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?

I think, for me, the most difficult part of running your own business is simply making sure you keep pushing yourself. You set your own deadlines. You decide where you want the business to go. You decide how much work you're going to put in. It can be easy sometimes to put things off because there are so many facets to keep up with. The trick is balancing your workload with your health with your family. It's all important, and I try to remember why I went in this direction, to begin with.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Don't let other people tell you what kind of business you should run. There can be a lot of "standard practices" in any industry, but don't let them deter you from going a different path.
  2. Don't shy away from the challenges. It's important to learn the basics of running a business, so don't allow your inexperience to deter you. There is a wealth of information available at your fingertips. Use it, and try to grow in the process.
  3. Hug your wife, husband, partner, kids, friends, whatever... at the end of the day, it's a scary experience at times, and you should share it with the people you love. My wife, especially, has helped to give me the assurance that she's behind me and supporting me. Make sure you recognize the people that help you because there will likely be many.

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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