My first day arriving at my university halls was Saturday 17th September 2011, there were no feelings of anticipation or nerves. Mostly due to the fact that I still didn’t know how I’d been accepted into a university and more so because I had no desire, at the time, to continue studying.
The first things my house mate Mikey remembers of me is the fact that the first box I brought into my room was full of hats. There was no stopping me, from a market of grannies to a building full of freshers, if there were any place to make some money it would be here.
As I slowly came to terms with the fact that all my house mates were boys and that it was very likely my fault (my dyslexic application for accommodation) my idea for finc quickly became a topic of discussion, as if destiny had called my room mate whom which we both shared a dividing wall mentioned he had studied art.
My eyes lit up as he showed me his A2 art portfolio, there were pieces of fine art inspired by Michelangelo and Titian. The shading with charcoal and pencil was very impressive and immediately I asked him if he could conceptualise what I would hope be the first 3 hats that were to be put into production.
Although the two week freshers period of being consistently pissed, slowed us down to a certain degree after that un-replicable binge, we actually got to work quite quickly. After somehow securing a very nice e-commerce platform for free (supadupa.me) we were pretty much in the design phase and began our social media presence.
Instantly I recognised the importance of having influencers co-sign our brand and I started to research who were the most likely to do so. First on the list where The Manor, Mikill Pane, Master Shortie and Syron. At the time they were all unsigned musicians and had small yet strong fan bases, they were contacted predominately on twitter and all very nicely agreed to DM us there addresses.
First week of November and the designs were ready. All that was needed was the Western Union wire transfer of our student loans to be accepted and pray that our untested supplier would actually deliver the goods. Needless to say it was important that half the money was paid upfront to the supplier with the other half paid when the China post EMS tracking number was sent to us. It was a nerve racking month.
For anyone that is interested in how I sourced and communicated with supplier in China. 4 years ago before the Alibaba IPO, there was a website called DHGate, they were the dominant e-commerce platform at the time and it was the website where I had previously sourced my stock for the market and other eBay selling schemes I had whilst at college. This website however had loads of restrictions in the way you could communicate via their internal email system, most likely to keep the transactions internal and for them to make money on the fees.
This simply didn’t work so although it got my user banned temporarily, I asked the supplier we wanted to work with for his Skype. From that day all communications with suppliers where to be done via Skype.
It was a very special day when the package arrived I remember having to patiently wait for Matt to get back from his lectures and we opened it together. Nothing quite beats the feeling of seeing a product you thought of in your head in real life, again a pinnacle moment in my passion for business and at 18 years of age we were able to say that our first Finc products where ready to be sold to the world.
The fundamental error I made was to want to launch the website on new years day; so on 01.01.12. WHAT WAS I THINKING! WE HAD A BOX WITH 180 HATS READY TO GO, AND WE DIDNT GO LIVE BEFORE CHRISTMAS?! ALL FOR A POXY FANCY FUCKING DATE ON THE DAY WE FIRST STARTED TRADING. Man, how could I have allowed us to miss christmas trade, diabolical mistake. Looking back I was just trying to create a cool legacy, but now I have learnt to not manipulate a legacy for a company and just to let it be.
On the first week of trading without having sold a single garment we received an email:
Our exciting 18 month journey had only just begun.
Written - 14.01.2015