In our first post I told you guys about how the idea behind SIBUI was born. If you haven’t already, go back and give Our Story a quick read, to gather the bigger picture on what I’m about to say. So, I wanted to carry on the theme of transparency in our brand and our business. Carrying on our story, I next wanted to talk a little more about our journey to this point and its challenges. Perhaps you, yourself have a vision for a fashion brand, or any other business for that matter. Knowledge is key and I can only share what I know to help others. With that, lets pick up where I left off.
Let me get the bad news out the way first. Turning an idea into a reality is a very difficult process. However, are you really expecting it to be an easy ride? If it was, everyone would be doing it right. But this shouldn’t dishearten you. It should drive you. If you haven’t got this driven feeling over any idea, it is probably not a good idea. After all, if you are not 100% sold on it how can you expect to sell it to others? For me, my difficulty hit me instantly. Especially when my idea was so far away from my usual comfort zone. To pursue this I would need to learn a whole new skill set as a career leap from engineer to fashion designer! However, as daunting as that looked I genuinely believed in its future.
I’m going to condense our journey down into key points that really lead SIBUI to this point in time. It has been a long journey. Filled with ups, downs and roundabouts.
It was time to google. A great tool for anyone in the unknown, so a good place for me to start. The first task in any business idea is research. You can never do enough. I needed to understand if my idea was actually unique and able to fix the problem that I had found. Fortunately for me, a lot of that research had been already done after 8 years of fatherhood. It was in my experience where the gap in kids fashion appeared to me. Off I went looking for stylish kids clothes between 5 – 10, that where affordable but premium. In our circumstances, search engines also hinder our search. Because of marketing traits, the first few pages can be filled with brands with big budgets. Leaving other, much smaller brands in the dust to trawl through. Therefore, don’t rely on it. We looked elsewhere, such as social media platforms. Pinterest and Instagram where both great for me. Visual selling tools, they quickly unearthed new and smaller brands that where clearly doing well in their own right. As I will mention later, still nothing completely achieving the vision I had.
I knew in my head the look and style that I wanted. It was pretty much my own tastes downsized for my boys. I’m generally very particular to detail when I shop for anything and fashion is no exception. Over the past few years, I always found myself with an issue of Esquire Magazine in my hand while travelling for work. A great source of inspiration I found myself drawn to a reoccurring figure featured regularly in their publishing. The “King of Cool” himself, Steve McQueen. From a completely different era, where in my opinion, men where simply better dressed. He really defined his style as less is more. Effortless chic that stood out despite its simplicity. I wanted that. I also wanted that for my boys Travis and Axel. This then, defined our image going forward. Clean and simple, yet detailed and timeless. I had a long list of products in my vision that I wanted to produce. But the harsh reality in fashion is that products cost money. Lots of it. So, I had to be selective on what I tackled first, with the investment availability I had. I therefore decided to tackle the wardrobe essentials for kids. The almost everyday and go to looks parents dress kids in these days. As you will have seen already, this developed our Essential Tracksuits. Such a common outfit, done in many ways, from many brands. Within my shopping budget, the choices where vast yet all of them didn’t really seem to offer it all. The high street offered well-made products, that are cheap but lack premium or detail. High end offered the style, quality and detail. But at such a high cost. Between the two, sportswear dominated as an in between on cost and quality. But streetstyle is pretty one way look in the opposite direction of the classy looked I desired. Taking pen to paper, I came up with the design you see today. Combating all the negatives to the above, while delivering all the positives. Alongside this, other products that you will see coming very soon!
The name Sibui took time to become the brands identity. As it sounds, the reality is that thinking of a brand name is a bit of a minefield. A brands name and identity needs to represent everything that you do. It needs to be unique, while also catchy. You also need to protect it by trademark. Especially when that name and logo will be on the very thing you sell. The first thing I did was write down a list of names I liked and could imagine logos for. Visiting the trademark register, guess what? They where all taken! However, things happen for a reason. My mind went blank, I began to panic. But then, in a moment of clarity. I thought about our goal. What our products are going to be and represent. The style inspiration was nothing unique, just refined. Its been around forever, just more difficult to come across for children.
I researched that. After a small amount of time, looking into design techniques. I found Shibui (渋い); The muted coolness of simplicity and minimalism. Interesting, google, Shibui. What I found was a descriptive Japanese word that basically describes everything our products are. The perfect name for my brand. But, admittedly used elsewhere for many different products and services. This word, representing everything I wanted. Pretty quickly I realised that it is not a common word within our target geographic. How is it even pronounced? okay, a silent H. Lets remove that to make it easier to get right. Google Sibui… No relatable results. A unique brand name, that represents us perfectly and could be protected. Like our image and goal, the logo also had to represent. So, within a few hours, I had a name and had created selection of logos to choose from. We went with the first one. I knew straight away that its simplicity and versatility done what I wanted it to do. I could see it in my vision for the brand and the business. It incorporated the words heritage in Kanji form, with its new application towards our apparel. Trademark Approved.
I knew that making our vision into reality is make or break for this clothing brand. Again, my lack of experience in this department did not phase me. In reality you just need to know where to look. After further research, I found that factories would either sell you generic products ready for branding. Products they manufacture in bulk, requiring that last stage of personalisation. Or, manufacture to your own design and requirements. As wanted to create something new, the latter was our choice. However, not knowing how or where I would approach turning my designs into reality. A third o-toon transpired. Fashion consultancies. These business are effectively middle guys between your creative self and the factory’s. I could tap into a team of knowledgeable and experienced fashion brains as well as their contacts. They helped me convert my vision into tech packs (Design Drawings). Fair trade and ethical manufacturing was a must for us, which all of the factories we approached provided. We then sent these factories similar products from high end designers such as Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger to accompany our tech packs. With the simple message “Can you consistently manufacture our designs to this standard and quality?” Their response in the form of product samples was faultless. In my hands I had my idea, my vision and my brand. Products I wanted to show everyone and be proud of. First stock order placed.
Finally, we needed a place to call our home. A retail premises on such a short budget was not going to work for us. E-commerce offered the best shopfront for our small start-up. I quickly learnt that I did not need to spend a fortune for professional / attractive web space. We built our own website through a hosted service (Shopify). A very cost effective way to build your own platform with brilliant templates to start from. In our opinion, after trialing other similar services, this was a perfect match for us. As it offered many extensions to customise and tailor our shopping experience. While maintaining an efficient and effective back end, to give you the best possible service. Creating the smooth and reliable site you see today. Besides this, social pages also provide extensions to your home. Places to connect and interact with our audience on many different platforms. It was important that we got our tag locked down across them all @SibuiClothing.
In summary, the above pretty much covers how I built SIBUI. I enjoyed every step of the process and felt I've made something ready to rock. But then I met Chloë. The truth is, as driven and as committed to your vision as you are. Sometimes a second pair of eyes can give you a completely new angle on things. The trick is, taking it constructively. Chloë is my right hand girl, an absolute dream of a partner. She made SIBUI become a “we”. Giving our brand that all important woman’s touch. She made my very structured approach, a lot more natural and warming. Lifting my vision of minimalism from almost dull, to exciting. Credit goes to her for stitching all of the above together into a true brand.