Control Climbing: Tom Chapman
Creating comfortable, stylish and practical climb-wear that’s both rockface friendly and good enough for the pub, Control Climbing’s clothing eradicates that oh-so-difficult “what do I wear?” quandary when you’ve got social plans then a bouldering session, but don’t want to change in between.
Tell us what your business does:
Control Climbing are a manufacturer of stylish, ethical and functional clothing for climbers both on and off the wall.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
As a city-based climber, the bright red or green trousers built for mountaineering did not appeal to me for climbing indoors or travelling out of London to climb on real rock.
I needed something that I could wear around the city that was also fully functional for when I make it onto the rock or in the gym.
How did you know there was a market for it?
I realised there was a market for what I was dreaming of based on the ever-growing climbing market in cities and around the world. Yet nobody was creating clothing for the people in these gyms.
What were you doing before starting up?
I was working full time in fashion retail.
Have you always wanted to run your own business?
Owning my own business has always been a dream of mine and something I knew was right for me.
How did you raise the money?
By saving as much as possible from my salary.
Describe your business model and how you make money:
The Control Climbing business model is a traditional online retail model where we manufacture and sell clothing for a demanding market.
What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
I have faced challenges of dealing with overseas manufacturers and trying to make orders below the minimum quantity.
I am good with people and understand how factories work so I have been able to produce in the factories’ downtime.
What was your first big breakthrough?
My first big breakthrough was with my first sale, that for me made me realise that it is possible to create a successful business.
If there is no passion there is no point, find something you are passionate about and find a way to make a living out of it.
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
Read books for inspiration but not direction. I have read lots of books by start-up brands in similar and different fields to me along with how to guides but I am not copying what they have done.
Do it your way, risk what you can afford to lose, and finally: it’s a journey, so enjoy it.
Where do you want to be in five years’ time?
I want to be running my business full time and making enough money to live the life I want by creating a positive work life balance.
I also hope to create a foundation that helps kids who are statistically more likely to get involved with gangs, interact with the outdoors and get involved in outdoor sports.