On the up · 29 April 2016

Tom Cridland: The two-person company with a turnover of 600, 000

Tom Cridland
The 30 Year Collection? is a statement against fast fashion
Since being founded by a university leaver with no fashion experience two years ago, Tom Cridland has seen revenue grow to over 100 times the startup loan that started the business off growth which has been achieved with just two people. Business Advice spoke to the brand’s eponymous founder to find out how he managed it.

(1) Who are you and what’s your business?

Im Tom Cridland, and my menswear brand was founded with the aim of doing one thing making trousers really well. It has become increasingly focused on sustainability as Ive grown it, leading me to launch a long-lasting 30 Year Collection? of sweatshirts and t-shirts as a statement against fast fashion.

(2) How long have you been around for?

My girlfriend Debs and I founded the company two years? ago, when I was 23 with a government startup loan of 6, 000

(3) How do you make money?

We sell directly to consumers through our website, with 30 to 40 per cent of our customers in the US.

(4) What makes you different and why should people take notice?

There are only two of us, and we do everything ourselves, including our marketing and PR.

Tom Cridland is very much a brand with a mission, too. Well soon be launching an entrepreneur’s shirt, which will not only be sustainable fashion but will see five per cent of profits go to Young Enterprise and a further five per cent to entrepreneurs in the developing world. It will be part of a campaign to encourage entrepreneurial education into the school curriculum.

(5) What was important in terms of starting out?

We were pretty plucky. We drew up a list of people who we respected and contacted their agents and stylists to see if they wanted to wear our trousers, and it proved a successful strategy. The first big name we reached was Nigel Olsson, Elton John’s drummer. After I got in touch with him, he emailed the next day offering to try some trousers out, and he’s since done a huge amount to help promote the brand.

(6) What’s been your biggest achievement?

Most of the big names who wear Tom Cridland trousers are people weve reached out to, but Michael Portillo surprised us by just ordering through the website.

(7) What setbacks have you had along the way?

We were laughed out of the building by the first supplier we approached. I launched Tom Cridland straight out of university, with no background in business or fashion, so weve had to work really hard to get anywhere.

it’s not a setback, as I love being involved in every aspect of the business, but it is hard to take any time off I try not to think about how many hours I work. Even if we go away for two days well still be working while were there.


 
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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Hannah Wilkinson is a reporter for Business Advice. She studied economics and management at Oxford University and prior to joining Business Advice wrote for Kensington and Chelsea Today about business and economics as well as running a tutoring company.

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