Swole Panda: Sustainable bamboo clothing from young menswear entrepreneurs
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 apremium menswear brand with an unusual but evidently successful USP.
The duo produceclothing and accessoriesfrom bamboo and offer the Uk’s first bamboo sock subscription service. Swole Panda’s bamboo wayfarershave 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.
Who are you and what is your business?
Oliver Slacke. I own Swole Panda. We design and sell accessories all made from bamboo.
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.
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.
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.
What do you think the younger generation can bring to the businessworld?
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.
Will you ever work a 9-5 job?
Ive worked several different jobs. A 9-5 isnt for me.
Praseeda Nair is the editorial director of Business Advice, and its sister publication for growing businesses, Real Business. She's an impassioned advocate for women in leadership, and likes to profile business owners, advisors and experts in the field of entrepreneurship and management.