“The Best Thing about a Selfie Year is How Much you Learn, Fast”
Samuel Cornelius-Merrell (pictured above) is studying BSc Marketing and is currently taking a Selfie Year. He was inspired to launch a fashion business by his father and gained confidence with the help of ASPIRE.
“Growing up, I watched my father run a media business and fashion company, learning how business and creativity work well together. I also inherited his entrepreneurial spirit and passion. I applied for BSc Marketing at Kent, but what really drew me in was the option to take a placement year to gain vocational skills.
I didn’t attend the university’s Business Start Up Journey (sadly it clashed with my other passion in life – rugby!) but was always really intrigued by ASPIRE. I contacted the team directly and Rebecca listened to my ideas for launching a fashion business one day. She gave me really constructive, positive feedback and suggested I go for the Selfie Year.
Street fashion was the area I wanted to delve into and through lots of research I discovered simple ways to create stylish and unique designs and an excellent quality end product using Printful who can offer embroidery and graphic printing.
Over the summer, I made a business plan for my company – Calibre Clothing – to develop my own personal artistic designs into T-shirts and hoodies to sell online.
Come September, with the help of entrepreneur in residence, John, I investigated graphic designers that work independently to develop the branding. We made some great connections, and I was really pleased with the scorpion design for the company logo.
Pricing structure was one of the hardest things. My brand has a premium feel, but I knew I could not price students out, as they were likely to be my customer base. Former Selfie student Giovanni really helped me with final price points of £40 for a hoodie and £25 for a T-shirt.
I started to sell through e-commerce platform Wix which is simple and easy, and my website is up and running. The best moment for me, so far, was the feedback I received on it from friends and the team at Aspire. It gave me validation.
I am currently building an Instagram presence, something that my course has helped me to hit the ground running with. Sustainable innovation is really important and I hope to soon change supply to organic cotton and more environmentally friendly options.
The best thing about a Selfie Year is how much you learn, fast. I apply the business theory built in my first year to absolutely every part of my business and the experience is priceless.
It takes focus and commitment, but the sense of success and achievement overrides the pressures. To fund my Selfie year, I work three days in a supermarket so one of the most challenging things is to get the motivation after a heavy day at work, but I see it as short-term pain, long term gain.
I’ve sold around 20 garments just to friends and family so far, I have over 250 followers on my Instagram which I’m proud to have reached.”
See https://www.calibreclothinguk.com/ and follow on Instagram at @Calibreclothing_uk
“My business will help companies meet sustainability goals”
Joshua Mills is also studying BSc Marketing with a Selfie Year. He came up with a unique and timely idea for a sustainable business with the help of ASPIRE officers and entrepreneurs in residence.
“It was joining forces with the staff at ASPIRE which helped to nurture my idea of carbon offsetting – creating a marketplace where businesses can purchase things that give back to the environment. The concept was a bit ‘out there’ but I could see how it might appeal to companies who are under increasingly intense pressure to meet sustainability goals.
I decided during lockdown to take the idea and run with it as a Selfie year project, and it’s been my passion ever since then. I called the business Offset the Carbon and set up a website. It’s all very new to me and one of the biggest challenges is ensuring we don’t get scammed and that the suppliers are genuine.
Some of our suppliers work out in Africa and fund better cooking stoves to stop heavy pollution, others offer tree planting options. We are aiming for small and medium sized businesses to take advantage of the services we offer.
John is entrepreneur is residence at ASPIRE and has been helping me with all the technical side so I can focus on branding and PR, his assistance has been so valuable.
ASPIRE have been such a source of support, particularly in areas such as identifying customer needs and innovation. It was really incredible to attend the Kent & Medway Business Summit, I learnt so much about economic trends and was able to network with some major business players in the region.”
See Home | Offset The Carbon or follow on Instagram @offsetthecarbon