Charmou: Ollie Forsyth
The teenage entrepreneur talks about launching his second online retailer, starting with nothing and why Richard Branson better watch out
Name: Ollie Forsyth
Company name: Charmou Online Fashion Retailing
Number of Employees: 3-4
Location: East Midlands
Date launched: 01/05/2014
Tell us what your business does:
Charmou is an online fashion retailer, a platform where you can buy items for all occasions.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
After finding success with Ollie’s Shop, an online gift shop for teenagers I started in 2010, the idea for Charmou came about.
How did you know there was a market for it?
Having started Ollie’s Shop, I knew Charmou would thrive. I have been lucky to make big-name contacts in the fashion world, both retail tycoons and fashion publications, and this has helped me to understand the market. Also I had all the media and celebrities backing me, and I just knew it would work. Charmou has been going for two months and we have 32 brands with a price range of £5-£210.
What were you doing before starting up?
I have been running Ollie’s Shop, which has been incredibly popular and continues to grow. In the past four years, Ollie’s Shop’s revenue has grown 100% every year.
Have you always wanted to run your own business?
Since I was six and started charging my parents for the coffees I made them. After I was bullied in school and told I would never succeed in life, I wanted to make millions to prove them wrong. The past three years at school have been a disaster, I don’t understand why people choose to bully others, but this has helped drive me to succeed in business.
How did you raise the money?
I started with nothing so I got 10 bracelets from overseas and sold them for £10 each – making £100! From there, I was able to buy more and more.
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Describe your business model and how you make money:
Ollie’s Shop and Charmou buy from factories around the world: England, China, Spain, Argentina and we’re looking into Kenya. I also try to buy British products when I can as the ‘Made In Britain’ brand is so strong. I then sell merchandise directly to the consumer.
What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
I have been told that I would never succeed in life, but I didn’t listen to a word and I have not lost a penny so far. I have faced lots of challenges and made mistakes, but you have to take them in your stride and learn from the mistakes to become a better entrepreneur and person!
What was your first big breakthrough?
When I got my first celebrity endorsements and when I got my first article in the local paper, these were my first breakthroughs and since then I’ve been in several newspapers and I have been approached to do a television series!
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
When you have an idea and someone says to you “it will never work,” go out and prove them wrong – drive yourself to success. If you lack business knowledge, approach a mentor. Also write to celebrities and newspapers and tell them who you are – you never know what publicity you might generate for your company.
Where do you want to be in five years’ time?
The next Sir Richard Branson – Branson better watch out!