Stories of some Young entrepreneurship who decide that his future were in their hands.
The polyform crisis has resulted in thousands of articles on youth, on their difficulties to enter the labour markets. On those that deserve their uncertain future because of their lack of ambition and their passivity; the NEETs who neither work nor study and amount to 1,793,500 young people in this country. On those that contribute to the family economy by combining their studies with work; about 444,900 young people, according to the latest Survey of the Working Population. But beyond acronyms, judgements and figures, we have anonymous young people who refuse to despair or give in, those that surprise with their ideas and pursue them with energy to make them come true, those that enable us to see their youth, strength and fortitude. These are some of the stories of those who have decided to take things into their own hands and build their future with a sparkle in their eyes, with passion and effort. They are young entrepreneurs.
Sweating it out
(Sergio Gato and Jaime Alba, founders of the clothing brand, Kuone)
What began as a few logotype design tests ended up becoming Kuone, a textile company that specialises in t-shirts, raincoats and sweatshirts that was launched by Sergio Gato and Jaime Alba, a little over one year ago. In addition to attending class, doing exams and meeting friends, these 17-year-olds from Madrid visit suppliers, create new designs, prepare orders and manage their company’s website, which has 700 visits a week and increasingly more orders.
“First we made some sweatshirts and they became quite popular. People continued to ask us for more and we decided to prepare a line of garments… We have always enjoyed graphic design, photography, visual arts. Therefore, we decided to try our luck in the world of clothing; a closed world, for which there is no information on the Internet”, says a confident Sergio who speaks of his company, not as a fleeting hobby put together by a couple of guys, but as a serious project, a registered company that pays its taxes, keeps its accounting up-to-date and prepares forecasts…”Like any other company, although at the moment we cannot make a living from this”.
“As we are minors, it was very difficult to get people to sign the documents we needed to register like any other entrepreneur in Spain and, therefore, we had to seek permission from our parents. Regarding legal advice, we have received virtually none, except suggestions from our friends and families. Although the truth is that our tax and legal operations are quite simple,” continues Sergio mentioning the first obstacles they encountered when establishing the company, together with looking for raw materials, signing agreements with suppliers and couriers.
The first steps
“You can’t google textile industry and come up with an explanation on how it works. No. You have to make a lot of calls, talk to people, visit workshops. If you have never done anything like this before, you have to go on learning, be lucky, find a workshop where you can learn more. I learn a lot of about the business when I talk to a certain supplier because they have been in the business for 30 years”, he says.
And, what about a bad experience you have had?
We haven’t had any bad experiences. On the contrary, we have had the chance to visit some workshops and, in the end, we didn’t decide on the one that had the most affordable product, but on the one that best communicates with us. Because communication is the key to the business world. If a company does not communicate well with its production team, we are not interested in it.
What does having the entire production process in Spain bring you in terms of cost or brand image?
Keeping the production process in Spain is a strength and not a problem. As we have small production runs, we cannot afford to manufacture abroad and, therefore, we produce in local workshops in Madrid and in the surrounding area. This is an advantage because we can monitor the production process. In addition, the communication flow is smoother, easier and in the same language. On the other hand, the number of available workshops is much lower. What we are interested in and our main idea is the nearer the better. Excellent quality clothing is also made abroad but we can display a “Made in Spain” label and that is something the big brands can’t do.
You have started a very complicated business with lots of competition at a very young age. What is your assessment of this company, not only from a financial point of view but as an experience after one year?
Lot’s of things have happened to us. Not only because we are starting out but because we are very young, as you mentioned. An agent from a courier company thought he was going to an office to offer his services and he suddenly found himself in my living room, wearing a suit and carrying his documents and he didn’t know what to say when he met us. He was surprised, but we talked for a while and that was the first agreement we signed with a supplier… You learn something new every day and you see the progress. Making clothes is not the complicated part. What makes a difference is having a range. There are dozens of companies around the world that open on-line clothes stores and you have to compete with them but what is important is doing things correctly. We don’t want to be Zara and we don’t want everyone to wear our clothes; only those who like our style. We have learned that it is important to do things correctly and ensure customer satisfaction.
In this sense, the Internet and social media are key…
The Internet is key to reaching out to people, so that everyone can get to know your label. However, communication with customers goes beyond the Internet. Our slogan is that everybody will receive an answer and their products. We try to ensure that the buying experience is pleasant, that people are pleasantly surprised when the item reaches them and we really take care of this. This is why every order is shipped with some stickers, an accessory, a small gift for our customers.