We interviewed Ian Cartwright from Seven Feet Apart to find out more about experience on being a business owner.
1. What inspired you to start a business?
Matt and I met at The Academy for Chief Executives (Vistage), a group that meets regularly to further your personal leadership development and debate board level challenges. He and I both wanted to create a brand with a real purpose that inspired our customers, our team and our partners. We wanted to challenge the conventional wholesaler model, cutting out the middleman and passing on those savings. We wanted to be fairer to customers and kinder to our communities. We both shared a passion for shoes. The rest was easy, we just had to give up our well paid jobs and completely adapt our lifestyles!
2. What is the biggest issue you encountered while setting up your business?
Different challenges at different points in the cycle but if we had to pick one it would be brand awareness even though we are punching well above our weight. People love the Original 172 sneaker and the service we provide from the look & feel of the website, to how we deal with customers – checkout our google reviews, trustpilot score or our NPS rating, which is world class. So, on the world’s most crowded high street, the internet, getting heard in a cost effective way is our biggest challenge.
3. Name one thing collaborating with other artists or celebrities taught you? (ie Jamie Oliver/ Nicolas Dixon)
When we started thinking about our brand purpose, Jamie Oliver was an inspiration most notably for his work on Fifteen in giving young people an opportunity in life and it is something both Matt & I have as a core value and practice with a foundation we set up called ‘This Mile’. Jamie made things very easy for such an incredibly busy man and he was a pleasure to work with as has been, Nick. Collaborations are great for brand awareness and we have done both the right way, with their full involvement in the product design and marketing rather than just putting their name to a product. This takes time so don’t under-estimate that.
4. What advice would you give someone that wants to start their own business?
You have to be prepared to sacrifice more than you can imagine in time, money and emotions so it has to be something you truly believe in. This belief will drive your level of persistence in the face of all obstacles to succeed. We read the same sort of advice and more before we started Seven Feet Apart but it cannot really prepare you for the reality of it. The lows are very low but the highs are better than you will ever have experienced in business.