On my blog which you are looking at right now I have decided to profile a series of founders and self employed people to showcase the cool things they are doing as well as to shine a light on the challenges and day to day routines of self employed people.
Self employed people contribute strongly to the UK economy, with over 5 million self employed people and represent over 15% of the labour market. Right now in August 2020 self employed people are eligible for the Coronavirus Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, its a far cry from the furlough scheme which is a lot more supportive of employed people but at least there is some acknowledgement of the important role of self employed people.
The first person I have interviewed is the legendary Russ Jones who I met over 7 years ago when i first started Goodordering. I was setting up for a trade show and whoever was meant to be setting up next door to me was so relaxed that they didn't turn up until the last minute.. that was Russ, and that still characterises him to this day. We have a lot of things in common, living in East London and running our cycling fashion brands. I find him a source of inspiration and we collaborate on marketing and share business tips and motivation. I ask him a few questions below, read on:
Describe your business (and your big idea)
Hackney GT started out initially as an alternative cycle fashion brand with always a nod to being a social enterprise. The inspiration had always been london and street fashion. Now we are starting A small transition into being slightly more ‘recreation/lifestyle’ with cycling still being very much at the core.
What is your background? How does it link to what you are doing now?
Music, DJing, events. I always loved the grassroots street culture thing, the DIY ethic of punk and Then the 80s ‘Maggie’s children’ entrepreneurs who thought anything was possible. A lot of skills I picked up in the music industry were transferable in terms of promotion, trends and selling a story.
What was your breakthrough moment?
Realising there was a niche in the market not being catered for and I could potentially create something to fill that gap. The first piece that was created was picked up by a blogger and went viral very quickly. The website was launched and there was international sales straight away.
What was your plan?
Suck it and see. Business plan was not my forte so I guess I just had to jump in and see what Would happen.
How and when did you launch?
2011 with a website and pieces.
How have you continued to build your brand?
The brand has grown in varying ways. The last few years have been a struggle but with COVOID sales have picked up and I am creating new and I think strong designs that are always true to the brand's values.
What challenges have you faced?
Many...Self doubt, badly made kit , Buisness partner quitting, designs being copied, bring dropped by key factory. The list goes on.
How do you stay motivated?
By being on the street and and being inspired by Creative people (not necessarily ‘creatives’) . By wanting to make the world a better place and believing my company Can be A vehicle for positive change. Finally that still ideas keep coming . It’s fun when an design becomes a reality. Very satisfying to see someone wearing something you created.
What have you got your eye on for the future?