Fox-Den Designs is the result of Summer Company, which is an opportunity for students returning to school in the fall, to try their hand at running a small business over the summer holidays. They are given business training, assisted to write a business plan and receive up to $1,500 for start-up and an additional $1,500 upon completion. Summer Company provides students a taste for entrepreneurship, provides experience and awareness of the strong local business community.
Below Evan Bigger-Jones story.
“My business is Fox-Den Designs, it’s a clothing brand. I’ve got hats and T-shirts, and I should have swimsuits by the end of the summer. With a clothing brand it’s important to have a well-designed product and good designs – but I actually think the biggest thing to focus on is The Brand. I do a lot of research on the best way to establish and promote my brand. I plan videos to promote things I’ve got coming up. I want to build a brand that people will recognize and want to be part of, like Adidas or a Nike. I want people to want the brand, not just the products.
When I had my first designs I ordered a few hundred dollars worth of T shirts, but when they arrived I didn’t like the quality. So now I have them sitting there. It’s a hiccup because I want a high standard. I won’t release anything that is crap.
I’m going for a modern style – a modern, young style. Sixty-year olds won’t be walking into the store wanting my T-shirts! It will be youthful. I’m inspired by Nike and Adidas, but I don’t copy them. I have my own ideas.
Three nights a week I sit down and produce five new designs. It’s a discipline. I take out ones that don’t work for me and keep the ones I like, and I release some of them. I can send people a link to a website to see my new designs. It’s not my website, but I can use it to show people and get their feedback and take orders.
Before I get into large scale production I am trying out designs and making a little money so I can go to a manufacturer eventually and say Here try this. Most of my grant went to ordering product to get started. My biggest challenge is finding more money for more product. I’m very impressed with the hats I had done by a small company in China. My shirts are coming out of California and they’re great. A big achievement so far is getting responses from Lids and Urban Outfitters who want to see some samples.
When I first thought of creating a clothing brand it was just an idea. Now I’m serious about it. I’ve registered the business and it’s more of a dream to keep this going. I’m still at school but I’m pursuing this hard.”
More About Summer Company
Summer Company is a core program of the Small Business Centre running annually from mid-May to August 31. It is an opportunity for students returning to school in the fall, to try their hand at running a small business over the summer holidays. They are given business training, assisted to write a business plan and receive up to $1500 for start-up. After they run their summer business, complete all group activities and administrative aspects of the program and return to school, they receive an additional participation award of $1,500.
For the second year in a row, a portion of the overall Quinte budget has been allotted for development of a satellite program to run in Picton. The 10 participants in the satellite group come from PEC, L&A and Tyendinaga. They range in age from 15 to 19. Businesses include henna tattoo, beads made from natural stone, dance and arts camps, native crafts classes, postcards of local landmarks, athletic wear, indigenous jewellery, property maintenance and sports accessories.
Applying for Summer Company is a rigorous process. By the time a student has been approved and receives their start-up grant, they have written a detailed business plan including a start-up budget and cash flow, signed several legal documents, registered the business, secured insurance if needed and set up a separate bank account. It’s fair to say that not everyone who expresses an interest in Summer company, gets through this process! Help is available in the form of Sandy Abbott, the Small Business Centre consultant Prince Edward/Lennox and Addington, but the burden of completion by the early May deadline falls on the students themselves.
“Looking back at participants I have worked with over the last 5 years, I would say Summer Company students tend to be leaders with high aspirations. These particular ten have started businesses which allow them to follow their passion and make money at the same time. They all intend to keep the business going when they return to school and one already has plans to hire an assistant for next year. The program is for students who intend to continue their education. While many restart the business every summer during university, most have plans to work in professional services or skilled trades eventually. The program builds entrepreneurial skills and experience which is a factor in many graduates becoming business owners eventually.”
The enthusiasm for ‘being your own boss’ rubs off on other kids during the summer. Friends and family of the Summer Company students watch their progress during the summer and Youth in general visit the markets and fairs where they sell their products. Many ask questions about how the businesses got started. After just 2 years, we have an unofficial waiting list of 5 students who are waiting to turn 15 so they can launch their own business with the help of the program!
“Working with the Youth in Summer Company is a highlight of my year as a small business consultant. In just 12 short weeks these kids turn a passion into a viable idea, complete as much documentation as is required of any adult and come up with practical ways to connect with customers and make money. They bring enthusiasm and positive energy to the process and the perseverance to tie all the loose ends together in a vey short business cycle.”