Posted: Fri 8th Nov 2019
Describe your business in one sentence.
Inspired by animals around the world, our collections of men's swimming shorts have been designed to inject colour, excitement and style back into men's and toddlers' swimwear, whilst supporting some of our favourite non-profit animal charities.
How did you come up with your business idea?
As with many start-ups, Galago Joe was born out of frustration. Ahead of a summer holiday in 2017, I was looking for a pair of good quality swim shorts that supported animals, but didn't cost a fortune. I searched everywhere and couldn't find any, and so Galago Joe was born.
When creating Galago Joe, named after a small South African mammal, I wanted to ensure that our brand would be valued for its quality, great design and clear interest in conservation through handing over a portion of each sale to charitable organisations.
Our Dog collection was inspired by our French Bulldog, Josephine, who joined our family in 2016 and is an integral part of our lives. Josephine is also the face of Galago Joe, featuring on our labels, poppers and tags. We also have two wonderful charities that we have partnered with - Oscars Arc and The Mayhew.
The Wildlife collection was designed to help endangered species. We have chosen two amazing and innovative charities to partner with for these - Helping Rhinos and The Gorilla Organization and we are still looking for a Tiger charity (any suggestions would be extremely helpful).
In terms of turning this into an actual business, one of the first steps was getting a graphic design friend, Cylie (ByCylie), to take my very basic sketches and thoughts and turn these in to very basic 2D designs to see how they looked.
The next step was joining the Escape the City start-up accelerator course. This was extremely helpful in terms of having a structured set up approach and most importantly having a room full of excited people from a range of industries all going through the same process to run ideas by and get their feedback.
Though the course, I met Asher (Deadly Yarns) and talked through what was involved and he also put me in touch with a sample maker and pattern maker.
I also engaged the services of consultant to help with the sampling and production and she introduced me to the factory in Portugal.
What start-up challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
I am a chartered accountant by training so this whole process has been well out of my comfort zone, but an incredibly rewarding process in itself.
My main challenges have been:
Having no experience in this industry, I found it challenging to know how long things should usually take, as I had nothing to base this on. This meant I was somewhat at the mercy of whichever supplier I was working with and what they suggested was a standard cost and time to complete.
I have since engaged the services of consultant, Fran, to help with the sampling and production. This has been extremely helpful in terms of having someone there to push back on suppliers and also ask the questions that I would never have thought to ask. Speaking to experienced people in the industry and online courses such as the Fashion Angels 'Getting it Made' has also been enlightening.
Getting word out
Social media has made it much easier to promote start-ups on a smaller budget, but it also means you are competing against a ton of information to get yourself heard.
Distinguishing yourself from this mass of information is paramount and requires a level of creativity that I am still learning. Fortunately I have managed to engage the services of a PR team (Gabriella Maubec PR) and a social media expert, Tam (@forcocktailsake), who have both been amazing.
What has been your biggest achievement with your business so far?
The biggest achievement has simply been getting this to a position of launching and having what we believe is strong offering of quality products. Having some amazing charities (Helping Rhinos, Oscars Arc, The Mayhew and The Gorilla Organization) on board is also fantastic.
For me personally, holding the final swim shorts in my hands, after starting with the most basic of sketches in October 2017 is incredibly rewarding.
What is your next big business goal?
Galago Joe officially launched in May 2019 and our primary goal at the moment is simply getting the brand out there and building people's trust in it.
What do you think will be your biggest challenge getting there?
Currently our biggest challenge is getting seen and heard amongst the mass of other information everyone receives on a daily basis.
How has Enterprise Nation helped your business?
For me the most valuable part of Enterprise Nation is the amazing community. I was able to draw on the experience of Dessy (Fashion Insiders), Stacy Chan and Janan Leo (Cocorose London) who I met through the Enterprise Nation StartUp 2018 event [tickets are available for StartUp 2020 here], as well as Jaqui Ma (Goodordering) who I met through the Enterprise Nation support team.
Being able to ask questions and get advice from people who have been through this before is invaluable.
It is also very helpful looking through the various videos on the site to get tips on specific topics that you are working on.
Which other entrepreneur inspires you?
The team behind Brewdog! To take their vision to where they are now is amazing. I also love the fact that they have little extra personal touches like pawternity leave for their employees.
What are your three tips for business success?
1. Set your own success factors. Financial success factors are paramount (such as break even point or a number of items you need to sell etc), but make sure to also set yourself personal success targets. For me this will be physically handing over the money to the charities and also seeing someone I don't know on a beach wearing our shorts.
2. Set out a realistic project plan and make sure you are the driving force in achieving this. Speak to suppliers upfront about timing and make sure you hold them to this as far as possible.
3. Identify from the outset areas where you don't have the necessary expertise or knowledge and find individuals/teams that can help with this. Don't be afraid to ask for help! Galago Joe's consultants (Gabriella, Tam, Fran and Simon) have all been invaluable and my fiancée, family and friends have also been amazing too and I couldn't have done it without them.