Warren Bennett and David Hathiramani

How the winners of the Fast Growth Business Awards’ Young Entrepreneur gong tailored the perfect business model

Tailoring success story A Suit That employs 33 people and turns over £2.2m. Founders Warren Bennett and David Hathiramani tell the story of their sudden rise up the entrepreneurial ladder…

Warren Bennett (WB): My dad started a lot of businesses, and now advises small companies. He was my biggest influence. I saw being able to control my own destiny as far more exciting than any career. David and I become friends at school, which is why it’s great to have co-founded A Suit That with him. I was an aeronautical engineering graduate and David was a computer scientist, so a tailoring business seems an odd choice. But inspiration can come from unexpected places. In our case, it was a beautiful olive green suit I had made in Nepal during my gap year, when I was volunteering at a school in the country.

David Hathiramani (DH): When Warren returned to the UK, I saw his awesome suit. The material was great and it hung really well. I thought it would be good if we could do this for other people in the UK.

WB: One Saturday, we took the suit and displayed it at Hampstead Market to test our enthusiasm for the quality of the product. Within minutes, we’d taken two orders. By the Wednesday, we’d made our first website. It was a very simple, black and white affair, but we sold our first suit online the next day. We had a vision of Nepalese tailors fulfilling orders that were made online. It didn’t quite work out that way, but it was a start. I’d been in touch with the tailors in the intervening period, getting suits made and discussing whether the idea had legs. We knew how to measure, so it felt as easy as sending an email to a friend at first.

DH: It’s akin to outsourcing. We think of our suppliers as part of a family. They already had the capability and we were able to use our skills to bring in the sales. I was working at the time, so I funded our idea with a credit card, while Warren worked full-time on the business.

WB: We opted for the online model first, because it’s extremely distributable. All you need in an office is a computer, an internet connection and a measuring tape. But, early on, we discovered the need for A Suit That to have a customer-facing service. Now, we’ve got three permanent branches in London, one in Bristol, and 21 TailorStops in major towns and cities across the UK, where customers can get style advice and be measured by their own style advisor.

DH: Customer pre-ordering also means we don’t have to rely on stock as much as other businesses. We have fantastic tailors in Nepal by paying 50% over the local rate. And we donate 5% of our cost of goods to the school where Warren volunteered. When you go and see our tailors, it makes it pretty irresistible to do something good for them.

Warren Bennett and David Hathiramani were speaking to Steph Welstead.



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