It’s fair to say that the fashion and clothing sector is a rather crowded space where starting a new business is a brave step.
Working Week went to meet Richard Proudfoot and Michael Tucker who have just launched a menswear brand, Jogilby, which includes a limited edition range produced with TT star Conor Cummins.
‘I’ve always had a bit of an entrepreneurial mindset. I’ve always been the guy at school selling the DVDs and things,’ says Richard.
He went on to work in IT for nearly 20 years and it was when he joined Michael’s team a year ago that things started to fall into place.
He says: ‘We both have a similar mindset and we sort of spurred each other on. But it didn’t necessarily have to be a clothing brand.’
Micheal adds: ‘We actually went through a lot of ideas: originally, we looked at homeware. I think Richard is very pragmatic. And I guess I have the arty flair so I think it works quite well together.’
The name was Richard’s idea. He says: ‘I had this brand name, Jogilby, in my head for about four years. We designed the logo on a whiteboard. And it just lends itself well to clothing.’
They learned the basic of running a business through the DfE’s Micro Business Scheme but everything else has been about learning and adapting along the way.
They launched the website on March 1 and, since then, a lot has happened in a surprisingly short space of time. Right from the start it was always going to be an online only brand.
Michael says: ‘We both have an IT background so building the website and doing all the technology side of things was the easy bit for us. Then in terms of promotion, so far, we’ve primarily been on social media.
‘Conor is a good contact of ours and he has 20,000 followers on Facebook. We’ve got our logo on his visor for for TT and for the entire British Superbike season as well. I think where he really comes into the brand is, we could have made a t-shirt, that’s easy enough to do, but what we wanted to do is to make him look good. We wanted him to feel good wearing it. That’s been the really big ethos for us.
‘Conor is at the top of his game: he’s a big personality on the Isle of Man and lots of people look at him. And our strapline that we launched with is “Wear with confidence and live without boundaries”. So not only did we have that contact in place, luckily, he absolutely speaks our brand through and through.’
As Richard says, making a t-shirt is easy, but making one that people want to wear, and feel good wearing, is another matter. The Jogilby t-shirts they have brought along to show me are a simple classic design, something a man would enjoy wearing but his girlfriend would be just as happy borrowing occasionally. Where it really scores is in the quality of the cotton they use which has a really good weight and feel.
‘It’s 180gm organic ringspun cotton, which means it’s a thicker cotton and it feels really soft. That’s the key,’ says Richard.
And at £29 for a t-shirt of that quality it’s good value too.
Their target audience is male, 18-40 year olds but there is a women’s range already in design and plans for an active wear range.
The current menswear range features t-shirts, hoodies, sweatshirts, caps and bucket hats. They started simple with black, white and grey, but there are more colours coming soon.
Michael says: ‘We’re starting small, getting our feet under the table, and getting a feel for how it all works. We’ve never run a business before so we’ve been learning how to run a business. It’s a brand new market, and we’re learning everything as we go.’
Richard adds: ‘We’re still so close to the start of the business. We did the website and we just started telling people about it and then we set up the social media. Then we had the conversation with Conor and then it’s just gone - pow.
‘Somehow, in just nine weeks, we’ve been live on the BBC, we’re going to be in printed media, and we’re on a famous sportsman. So it’s been kind of quick.’
One really nice touch during TT week is that the Jogilby logo on the Conor Cummins limited edition t-shirt incorporates the Wing of Mercury. Mercury, of course, being the swift messenger of the Roman gods, and a Wing of Mercury in silver features on the trophy presented to the winner of the the Senior TT.
Richard says: ‘We’ve kind of gone with the flow really, things have just worked, which has been really nice. Yeah. And one of the things that’s been fed back is that the Jogilby logo with the Wing of Mercury, people really like it.’
This is one example of how an element of serendipity has played a part in how things have developed for them.
Richard says: ‘The decisions have been made by the brand, I’d say. As the people that are running it, we’ve had our own ideas but the brand has gone down a direction based on all sorts of factors we didn’t even think about. As if the universe has just come along and said: “Why don’t you do this?” “Or how about that?” It’s almost been building itself, that’s what it feels like.
‘But we don’t want to be just a local shop just selling to people on the Isle of Man: we want to be a household name. We’ve positioned our brand alongside brands like Jack Wills, that’s our target market, that’s where we want to sit.’