Setting up a business has been sighted as THE top career aspiration of 18-25 year olds across the globe – as found by the UK Trade and Investment and Economist Intelligence Unit. Only 7% of those surveyed have actually started out on their own venture, so we chat with 24 year old streetwear entrepreneur Josh Cotterill to give you the know how to get your ideas off the ground.
Self taught talent Josh launched his label, Horizon Bay, in 2013. He’s already opened a pop up store, is stocked at UN:IK clothing and has run a workshop teaching young people how to set up a clothing brand. Rhiannon Picton-James starts at the beginning :
RPJ: You have a background in graphic design, how did you make the transition into fashion? Have you learnt how to sew?
JC: Like most graphic designers, I’m interested in an array of creative uses. I appreciate good photography, film and fashion. I’m curious as to how things are done – so I learned how to screen print and how to sew, but I say that loosely! I never want to risk affecting the quality of the products by printing or stitching myself. I find that having basic ideas of processes helps me communicate exactly what I want with suppliers and print companies, and ensures I understand restrictions when designing.
RPJ: How did the story of Horizon Bay begin?
JC : The brand originally launched over at UN:IK Clothing. I’d been dreaming of setting up my own label for a while,and had been printing my illustrations on t-shirts. Jake contacted me in 2013 saying that he was looking for brands to be sold at his new online venture – UN:IK Clothing (Check it out by the way –www.unikclothing.co.uk). So I initially designed a few pieces to be stocked at UN:IK, and then later dropped the brands own range at it’s own site.
RPJ: What made you think you could do it? Have you always been entrepreneurial ?
JC: I’ve been printing on t-shirts for years, so it’s been a gradual development. I often designed and released illustration T-shirts through my design platform – White Sky Creative while at Uni. I used these ventures as learning curves for production techniques, finding suppliers, trialling out promotional techniques, sourcing affordable packaging materials and building an online reputation. Each release sold out, prompting me to order more of the next release and branch out beyond t-shirts. Generating sales from beyond a local area gave me confidence to keep pushing forward, it was proof that what I was doing was working and I wanted to continue doing it.
RPJ: Did you ever have any doubts?
JC: Admittedly, there used to be times where I’d receive boxes of T-shirts and would feel physically sick upon their arrival. ‘How am I going to sell all of these? And how the hell am I going to make my money back?!’. It was just a case of taking a risk and getting your head down to figure ways to generate sales and start turning over profit.
RPJ: You ship worldwide, what’s the furthest away you’ve seen someone wearing your designs ?
JC: I’ve sent packages to Australia, USA and across Europe. Getting overseas orders genuinely excites me, these customers could have ordered from any brand anywhere in the world and they chose a Horizon Bay tee. It makes it all worth while, it’s a huge compliment. Seeing someone wearing one of my designs on a night out is actually the most rewarding part.
RPJ: What has your most popular item been?
JC: At the brands web store, the most popular items have been the speckled tees and the diamond back print tees. Over at UN:IK, the first ever Horizon Bay release- the emblem tees are probably the most popular HB item. They’re still being sold over a year later. UN:IK have also been able to network well and get a few big names wearing the brand, such as House DJ Hot Since 82.
RPJ: Can you describe your design process from inspiration to production?
JC: It’s all trial and error really. I’ll open up Photoshop or Illustrator and spend hours messing around with shapes, text and colour palettes. I often have a few pages of designs which then get cut down to a final few and tweaked to finalise. I mainly work directly on a screen, but sometimes sketch out potential ideas and layouts to save time.
RPJ: Who inspires you?
JC: I’m really inspired by my mates. David Shaw from Droneboy Laundry, Tom Winslade from Deathtrap and Jack Nicholl from OBZZ are all big design inspirations for me. They’re smashing it design wise, and running really exciting brands that I look up to.
RPJ: HB is a young brand, you’re already stocked at UNI:K clothing, and have opened a pop up store. What are your hopes for the future ?
JC: It is young, so I don’t want to get ahead of myself at any stage. It’s a passion project, so I just want to carry on enjoying it and taking opportunities as and when they come up. I’d love to expand into snapbacks, rucksacks, holdalls and sunglasses. I’m always looking into new products, but to budget each new item takes time and requires brand growth. I’m also hoping to open another pop up store in Cardiff by the end of the year.
RPJ: As a success story, you’re an inspiration to budding entrepreneurs. What’s your advice to anyone who’d like to start their own business ?
JC: I have people inboxing the facebook pages a lot asking for advice about launching a brand and living as a freelance designer. I keep meaning to upload a questions and answers video at some stage to go through everything all at once – I’ll get to it eventually!
Alongside Have Heart and Droneboy laundry, we ran a workshop for young people around Cardiff to go through the processes involved when setting up a clothing brand. Over four two hour sessions, we went through our knowledge of branding, production processes and how to promote brands online.
Obviously we went into much more detail over that workshop, but if I was to give advice to anyone looking to start their own business, it would be:
- Surround yourself with good, positive minded people. Support and encouragement when carrying out a new business venture is absolutely vital.
- Work hard and keep at it. The first year is always ridiculously difficult and makes you question what the hell you’re doing, but after the first 12 months you notice clear movements and everything starts to click into place.
- Love what you do. Ensure you’re working on something you’re genuinely passionate about, it’ll make it so much easier to fully engage yourself in. I go to work every day and never look at my watch, I’ll spend 10+ hours in the office and never find myself getting bored.
- Seek advice from people who have done it before. Asking questions can save you time and money, ensuring that you avoid making some classic production mistakes.