In 2013, Tom Cridland started a handmade, luxury clothing company with nothing more than a government loan and a vision. Since his company's inception, Cridland has reinvested the profits in order to sustain the business's growth, all the while seeking to undermine what he calls unethical "fast fashion." Instead, Cridland said he aims for quality over quantity, slowly and steadily building his U.K.-based brand rather than overextending himself in a mad dash for expansion.
Cridland told Business News Daily about the experience of founding his own company at age 23 and discussed his vision of where it is heading next.
Business News Daily: In a nutshell, what service does your business provide?
Tom Cridland: Tom Cridland makes luxury clothing by hand.
BND: How long have you been in business?
Cridland: A year and a half.
BND: Did you start with a formal business plan? If not, how did you lay the groundwork for your business?
Cridland: I've only written one business plan ever, and this was to secure the paltry £6,000 ($9,120) that I started with from the government startup loan scheme — which is not to say that I'm not extremely grateful for the wonderful opportunity this small amount of money gave me.
BND: How did you finance your endeavors, both initially and as your business grew?
Cridland: I started, as I mentioned, with the startup loan, and then have simply reinvested money we've made along the way. I've been loath to give away any equity at all thus far.
BND: How much did you invest personally?
Cridland: As a recently graduated University of Bristol student, I had no money to invest personally, but as the Tom Cridland brand has grown organically through sales, I've always tried to reinvest as much profit as possible.
BND: Is your business today what you originally envisioned at the outset, or has it changed significantly over time?
Cridland: Tom Cridland started off as a brand specializing in trousers and pants. We are working up to a full line, but I don't want to rush into anything, and this is what we also planned to do. We spent a year meticulously developing our next products, The 30 Year Sweatshirt and T-Shirt. When it comes to designing the next product, which I'm working on now, the creative slate is always wiped clean, as it would be foolish to pre-plan our next projects too far in advance.
BND: What are some lessons you've learned? Is there anything you would've done differently?
Cridland: The biggest lesson I've learned is don't do serviced retail, such as paying a retailer to stock you regardless of sales. This effectively constitutes daylight robbery.
BND: What were the most important factors that contributed to your success?
Cridland: Loving what I do and having the freedom to set my own working hours are crucial. I've worked very hard on the Tom Cridland brand, and I still have fire in my belly to achieve more.
BND: What are the next steps you want to take as a business owner? How do you see yourself achieving those goals?
Cridland: I'm not looking further ahead than the end of 2016 at the moment, as we're still such a young brand, but that has been planned out. We're opening a shop in London, touring the U.S., hosting a high-profile charity event and releasing three new products, which I'm very excited about.
BND: What is your best advice to someone with a great business idea who is ready to give it a shot?
Cridland: Don't listen to anyone who tries to force you to become an accountant instead. Go for it!