I started CLICLOC last year with my co-founder (and friend) Brian Downer. I came up with the idea for a cool new range of slap-strap watches after a friend showed me one of those slap bands that were so popular in the eighties. I've always had an interest in fashion and product development, so thought I would have a go at both at once. If I'd have known how difficult it would be, I would have thought twice...
Brian and I are classic start-up entrepreneurs. We work 20 hours a day, seven days a week. Some of our suppliers are in China and they start work at 2am our time, so we tend to be up until the early hours dealing with them. During the day, we're trying to sell. We've tried every channel imaginable, from market stalls to department stores, voucher deals to e-commerce. My conclusion is that major retailers are the best route to secure solid cashflow, online sales are the cream in terms of profit - as we keep it all! - and voucher deals are great for shifting stock, but terrible for the brand.
Brian and I are also the showmen behind CLICLOC. Whenever we create a pop-up shop - or pop-up laboratory, as we call them - he and I dress top to toe in purple, the colour of the brand. And I'm not just talking purple t-shirts. We have purple horn-rimmed glassed, bow ties, waistcoats, shoes and shirts. That's how we attract attention.
It's been an incredibly busy year but, luckily, Brian and I have managed to stay close friends throughout - just about! We’re like an old married couple now. The big arguments are all over and now we're down to the small simmering quarrels. But no matter what, we always talk through our issues.
Our aim is for CLICLOC to become a sort of Willy Wonka for products. We constantly have mad ideas. The problem with executing them all is that the lead times on creating new things are so long. My background is in software where you can go from concept to launch in 60 seconds flat. Often, with the products we want to make, the only place we can manufacture is in China. It’s impossible to get them made here. Literally, the skill has left the country. It’s a bit sad.
That means you have to factor in shipping times and travel for each new idea - wherever you’re going to manufacture, you have to go to that place and meet your supplier face to face. If I were to give one piece of advice to entrepreneurs, it's that. Don’t try and use third party services or do it online, business is done face to face out there. Whether you’re buying or selling.Now that we're moving into our second year in business, it helps to have narrowed down what works and what doesn't. It should make running CLICLOC slightly less stressful. Who knows, we might even be able to slow down a little; maybe work 19 hours a day, seven days a week instead. Ha!