1. What do you do?
I started my own clothes company, Huxley clothing, in Febuary 2009. Huxley Colour Ltd is a men’s clothing company that specializes in brightly coloured knitwear and socks. We can be found at www.huxleyclothing.co.uk where you can explore our garments and shop to your hearts content (gratuitous plug!)
2. What did you do before this project?
I worked for a Hedge Fund in London. I had done this ever since leaving University in August 2007.
3. How long have you dreamt of doing what you are doing?
Running my own business is something I have dreamt of for as long as I can remember. It was however something that I assumed needed lots of capital and lots of experience, and as such had assumed I would have to work to the age of 35-40 before I could even think of doing it. I then came up with the idea for Huxley in my last year at University about 2 years ago. I started doing the sums and creating some fantasy accounts for the sort of company I wanted to launch on holiday roughly a year ago. It was then that I realized that by keeping things simple and by keeping costs tight I could realize my dream without bundles of money or years of experience. The only hurdle then was having the balls to leave my job and start the long and lonely road to launching my own company.
4. From a practical perspective, how did you plan for it?
As mentioned above I started doing research and working out some of the numbers behind the business about a year before I actually left my job. Once I was happy that I had a viable business model in theory, I then set out to discover if there were people in the UK who could produce the sort of clothing I was going to want to produce. This was simply a case of Googling and calling people with my hypothetical proposition. Once I was sure that my theoretical business would be executable, I sat sown and wrote the first draft of what would become Huxley Colour Ltd’s business plan. This was all finished before I completely decided to resign from my job. This meant that once I did leave my job in the city, I was in a position to press straight on and get all the nuts and bolts in place as I had laid out in my business plan.
5. How are you funding it?
I had sketched out the funding requirements of launching Huxley long before I did actually try and launch Huxley. This meant that I had worked out that; 1) I didn’t need a huge amount of start up capital; and 2) the exact amount of money I was going to need to launch Huxley. As I had this figure in my head, I was able to call upon my most immediate potential investors – my friends and family – with the offer of small and manageable investments. Due to the fact that I had a business plan and could answer all their queries and concerns my initial requests for investment were successful and I was able to raise all the necessary start up capital from family and friends. In terms of funding my own living costs in the initial start up phases of the company (it is amazing how reluctant one becomes to take any money out of their business once it has launched) I started putting aside large chunks of my paypacket each month whilst I was still working but had decided to leave my job. This gave me a buffer of money to live off whilst the company was all coming together.
6. What was the hardest thing about making this happen?
The hardest thing about making this all happen was having the belief and confidence in my idea and my ability to leave my job and take the plunge into the unknown. There will always be people with rational and sensible reasons why you shouldn’t do what you are planning on doing. The toughest thing is to ignore these sane, intelligent people and trust your instinct that you are onto a winner!
7. What has been the best thing about having made this happen?
The best thing by far has been the response from people to the company, our website and catalogue and most importantly to our products.
8. What advice would you give to other people who want to do something similar?
If your instinct is telling you to do it. Do it.
9. What resources (books, websites, articles, events etc) did you find really useful?
You can’t underestimate the usefulness of www.businesslink.gov.uk for all the nuts and bolts of setting up a company.