On the up · 26 September 2018

Swole Panda: Sustainable bamboo clothing from young menswear entrepreneurs

Swole Panda co-founders, James (L) and Oliver (R) Slacke

As part of our Young Entrepreneurs series, we caught up with James and Oliver Slacke, co-founders of bamboo-based fashion brand Swole Panda.

At just 21 and 24 years old, the Slacke brothers have built a premium menswear brand with an unusual – but evidently successful – USP.

The duo produce clothing and accessories from bamboo and offer the Uk’s first bamboo sock subscription service. Swole Panda’s bamboo wayfarers have been praised in fashion titles for their durability, and are stocked in numerous independent menswear stores. British design, global sustainability, according to the brothers.

Business Advice sat down with the older co-founder, Oliver Slacke, to hear his thoughts on the next generation of entrepreneurs and the barriers facing young people in business.

  1. Who are you and what is your business?

Oliver Slacke. I own Swole Panda. We design and sell accessories all made from bamboo.

  1. What inspired you to start your own business?

I had always dreamt of having my own business from a young age. Having just come out of university and in a position where I would have to get a job in the “real world”, I realised I could either help build somebody else’s dream, or take a leap of faith and start building my own. It was at this point Swole Panda was born.

  1. What are the barriers to starting your own business as a young person?

At a time where technology has made access to the global market so accessible, I believe the barriers to starting your own business are the lowest they have ever been.

However, starting a business at a young age means customers and suppliers can sometimes fail to take you seriously, especially when dealing face to face.

  1. How did you fund your business?

The initial investment came from money I had saved from selling fruit at the side of the road over consecutive summer holidays. From there, everything has been reinvested to fund the growth.

  1. What do you think the younger generation can bring to the business world?

The younger generation has grown up in a decade where technology and industry are changing so quickly. I think this will lead to young entrepreneurs that can adapt and innovate faster than any generation before.

  1. Will you ever work a 9-5 job?

I’ve worked several different jobs. A 9-5 isn’t for me.

 

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  1. Is a degree a necessity?

A degree to start a business? Not at all!

  1. What tips do you have for other young people wanting to start their own business?

Surround yourself with people that have a similar mindset and that have been successful in all walks of life. The knowledge you can gain is priceless.

  1. Who is your celebrity icon?

Dwayne Johnson.

  1. What app do you use the most?

WhatsApp.

  1. Where do you see yourself at 50?

Building my own businesses and mentoring young entrepreneurs on what I’ve learnt along the way.

  1. What song should be your life anthem?

Me ol’ Bamboo.

  1. Netflix or night out?

Night Out.

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Simon Caldwell is deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and communications from the University of Liverpool, and has previously worked as a content editor in local government and the ecommerce industry.

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