incu - the retail store created with nothing but a good idea
Author: Vincent Wu
I wanted to have stories about lunches with the Tsubi guys, dinners and drinks with the girls from Sass & Bide, followed by a raft of parties starring that Ian Thorpe guy and sponsored by some huge cosmetics brands. Travelling around the world and attending fashion shows in Milan, Paris and New York. Well, 6 months on, I haven't net any celebrities as yet and have no stories like that to tell my friends. So I tell them what it's really like to start your own business.
I never imagined I would be in this position at the age of 25- about to open a retail store with my twin brother that will hopefully fill a gap in the premium street wear market in Sydney.
One year ago, I was quite happy working in a large IT multinational, kicking back and making the dollars. My whole academic life was based around the assumption that I was going to end up behind a desk working 9 to 5 (on a good day!).
If I stayed with it, I would have been able to make a six figure salary in 2 years time, sign up for an expensive mortgage, receive substantial pay rises thereafter and live in financial comfort for the rest of my life. There are a thousand reasons why I shouldn't' have left this pre-determined life and I'm sure my parents could think of a thousand more. "You need retail contacts and you need to know the clothing industry back to front if you want to start your own business", they would say. Mother dearest almost fainted when her private-school educated, squeaky-clean son quit his high paying IT job for an industry that she never understood or cared about. My dad thought it was my "quarter-life crisis" and insisted I should take a holiday. As if a week of lying in the sun was going to erase my desperation for the unknown. So this path wasn't a choice because to me, there was no choice. I was going to go all the way with nothing but a crazy idea and see where it leaded me. To tell you the truth, I've loved every second of it.
My dream was to open a little shop stocking clothes that I would wear or what I would like to see other people wear. I don't know if I have an authoritative fashion sense, but I do know that people will always love the feeling of wearing something that is not only comfortable but also gives them more confidence. I know I hated wearing a suit in the office…I mean, what's with the tie? It's just a subtle way of slowly strangling someone, which is exactly how I felt in my old job. I like to think that opening this store is my chance of giving people an opportunity to feel the same way I do when you're wearing a nice pair of jeans and a great t-shirt.
Running my own company has been something else. I've learnt business skills they never talk about at university. I've learnt:
Sometimes its about following your gut feeling, and other times it's about ignoring your churning stomach telling you to stop right now and just going out there and doing it anyway
Its about not being afraid of falling or being put down.
The scariest part is facing the reality that you're investing a huge chunk of money (often a loan from the bank) and don't know whether you'll ever see it again.
When making tough decisions, follow the opposite strategy to what everyone else in the industry would do because that's what differentiates you from the pack of competition.
The possibility of failure is what scares most people from starting their own business. My philosophy is that I've already succeeded because the amount of knowledge I have gained. I quit my day job to start this project 6 months ago so there's still a long way to go, but I'm ready for the challenge. It's the prospect that whatever the result: spectacular failure or success, it is nobody's fault but mine - and that is what excites me the most.
Vincent & Brian Wu opened their retail clothing store 'incu' specialising in 'street couture' at the Galleries Victoria, Sydney back in October 2002. Their clothing and accessories are sourced from up-and-coming international and Australian designers. www.incuclothing.com
'Copyright 2003 Youth 2 Youth'