Preparing for Take Off
We’re energetic and we’re ambitious and we have an amazing product, but we’re still kind of a startup. And the way life works is pretty much that you have to learn to walk before you can run. When we started Ceiphers Clothing, we figured everybody needs everyday clothes. Street clothes. So we thought we’d start there, but no. We quickly found that market was way oversaturated, and no place to dip a toe in the water. Well then, everybody likes African colors. They’re bright, they’re lively, and very appealing. So the obvious thing to do would be to make our clothing entirely out of colorful African fabric – actually, Kitenge fabric from Kenya. My home country. Once again, no. It turns out the average American is NOT comfortable wearing the full-on Kitenge outfit. Back to the drawing board. (Daddy, what’s a drawing board? It’s what designers used before they had computers, son.) A little more research taught us that adding Kitenge fabric as accents on everyday American wear hit the jackpot. Everybody who saw these pieces loved them. So we began to make shirts and hats and bow ties and chokers and other items to sell on the Web and at local fashion events. And sure, we sold some. But as you know, the Web isn’t enough. So to bring to market the clothing that Rachel and I have such faith in, a few months ago we signed up for Daymond John’s Success Formula program. What a difference! I would never have expected the kind of teaching, the kind of lessons, the kind of experience that we received just in the first few weeks. We were given a mentor who guided us through the branding and rebranding of the website, our packaging, our social media pages, our “voice,” and even how we reach out to our customers. We were challenged to create an elevator pitch that helped us fine-tune our thinking about the business, and taught effective ways to solve problems. Finally, we were given the opportunity to present our business, at the Las Vegas Entrepreneur Summit, to a number of venture capitalists, including Daymond John of Shark Tank, who is also the founder of the multi-billion dollar clothing brand Fubu. So with our nerves on edge, we – anxious entrepreneurs at ages 25 and 24 – waited to see if we would be chosen out of about 100 others who were equally deserving of the same opportunity.