We Are Not Them: Simon Browning, Nicole De Havilland, Joe Parker
We Are Not Them offers limited edition, artist-inspired t-shirts with a focus on sustainability
Names of founders: Simon Browning, Nicole De Havilland, Joe Parker
Date Launched: 17/10/2019
Number of employees: 4
Which university, if any, did you attend?
Simon Browning describes how visiting a shop in Palma inspired the launch of We Are Not Them, an artist-inspired t-shirt company with an ethical ethos!
Tell us what your business does:
We help people avoid fast fashion by creating limited edition, artist inspired t-shirts made with ethics. Each of our t-shirts is gift packaged. We use eco-friendly screen printing processes, recycled card and FSC approved paper and plant trees, amongst other initiatives to be planet positive.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
I like creative industries. Creative also in the sense of bringing things to life – not just having an idea. I've always shopped for clothes that are built to last and are sought to buy products that are not mainstream.
I've always sought out t-shirts as an accessible way to wear something different. I came across a shop in Palma that was selling artist inspired t-shirts and I thought it would be really cool to build upon that idea.
So we've created a t-shirt business that promotes artists, pays them commission on every t-shirt sold and helps promote their art.
I'm also a passionate believer that businesses can behave in a planet positive way and there's more to life than just profit. Through a successful business I could create something that makes the world a better place and hopefully inspire others to do the same – I am part of this movement to create better business.
We believe that people WANT positive change and given the choice they will choose to support businesses that combine superior products with a mission to be planet positive.
We believe that it's possible (and also a duty) as a modern business to go beyond neutral impact but to use the privilege to be in business to add more – what we like to call being planet positive.
How did you know there was a market for it?
We believe that first we need to create the very best product. We WANT our #wearenotthem family to feel great about the products they purchase; so our first passion will always be to create the very best product we can. We believe this because WANT should provide a great value exchange for hard earned money and all products should be built to last. We are not and will not be fast fashion. #wearenotthem
Secondly, we believe that all businesses have the power to create positive change and can (if they choose to) act beyond responsibly, to make the world a better place for being in existence than not. Whilst we understand profit is important to survive in business, we firmly believe that as part of the process we do so for the benefit of all. #wearenotthem
What were you doing before starting up?
My background is in the foodservice industry. I'm big on customer service and love making sure people have a good time – I want to bring this through to this business.
The four of us that work on this brand are doing so part-time. We aren't taking salaries. We have FT jobs but we hope to make this a success.
Have you always wanted to run your own business?
Yes – my father had his own business from a young age and I was born into a small family business. That ultimately wasn't a big success but I hope that my businesses can inspire my children to follow their own dreams.
How did you raise the money?
Describe your business model and how you make money:
It's a regular retail product with a margin. We are at the moment a purely online business.
What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
A couple of our early challenges:
1. We couldn't find a t-shirt base that we wanted to use to print on. So after a lot of searching we decided to make our own t-shirt base, developing that over a period of time. It would have been easy to settle on an inferior product but if you stick to what is right and what you believe, with perseverance you can get there.
2. Again the same with our gift box – we wanted a specific style and shape to create a gift box experience to tell the story of our product. The easy way is to use stock boxes but we decided it was better to create our own.
There are challenges in every business but in my mind there's always a solution – always.
Our biggest challenge at the moment is to generate awareness and grow our fan base. We are yet to solve this puzzle but are only four weeks old.
What was your first big breakthrough?
We are only four weeks old but I'd say the reaction from paying customers has been amazing. We have only had 5* reviews on the product so far. We've a very long way to go and are learning a lot – we definitely know a lot less than we need to.
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
– Plan/have a robust model for being profitable – be realistic
– Get a mentor/learn (mentors come in books as well as people)
– Get advice (use some of it/bin some of it – knowing which bits are useful to you is the skill)
– Try. You'll learn much more from doing than thinking
– Fail fast. If something is not working then try something different
– Don't be a ‘me too’ product – bring something different to the market
– Surround yourself with good people
Where do you want to be in five years’ time?
A profitable and sustainable business that is recognised for creating positive change for people and the planet with a passionate family of #wearenotthem supporters.
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