VANTOM is about to reach a milestone on the 20th of July and what an up and down first year it’s been – Part I of a 3 part series.
VANTOM Co Founder Tim Cram offers some insight into the realities of starting a clothing label and life.
I expected starting a new clothing label would be a breeze, but I could not have been further from the truth. The reality is starting clothing label is not as easy as anyone might think. The first year has been full of mistakes compounded by an initial brand identity crisis.
I see so many other new brands making the same mistakes as us, in that, we’ll get some t shirts and print a really cool logo on it and sell truckloads. Well, for us we learned the hard way, that just doesn’t work unless there is some form of community cult following already pre-built through other related business channels.
VANTOM was a t shirt concept often discussed over bevvies on the balcony of our Thursday Island home overlooking the magical Torres Straits. I worked for many years in employment and community services still always dreaming and chattering with my partner Vanessa about a clothing business.. and of course nothing ever happened.
Then one day a medical situation arose that scared the living bejesus out of me..a neck tumour. We had to leave Thursday Island quickly and head for the Princess Alexandra Hospital, Brisbane, where I spent a couple of months being tested and finally operated on. After the scare we never returned to Far North QLD becoming residents of the awesome Gold Coast. I decided that life was in fact too damn short, so I targeted and got my dream job working for the Commonwealth Government as a public servant. But in all honesty I hated it and quit within 10 weeks to my families shock.
The day after quitting I got straight into setting up the clothing business full time. I taught myself how to build a website in wordpress, photoshop, social media, IT and studied many new skills, but it was the simplest areas I really struggled. It took two months to come up with the name VANTOM, because every brilliant name Vanessa and I came up with was trademarked or already registered business names. I thought I’d nailed the best clothing name and logo in the entire universe but soon realised that without an identity and a solid marketing plan it meant nothing.
The business started using 100% Organic Cotton fabrics only, targeting 25-50 year old surfers looking for that minimalistic style. Organic cotton products are amazing quality, eco friendly but somewhat cost prohibitive compared to regular cotton. Our friends and family were brilliant, supporting the business massively by buying our products initially, but that soon dropped off, to the point of going for weeks without sales. The business strategy then required a rethink and reset, however, we as a family hit another hurdle..
Vanessa a qualified fashion designer got her dream job working in administration at the local Gold Coast Hospital which she loved. But throughout 2016, I witnessed a distant and deteriorating Vanessa suffering from lethargy and what I thought at the time was just the blues. She started reducing her hospital hours coming up with strange excuses as to why. Finally a breakthrough came when she was diagnosed with the disorder Post Traumatic Stress from an event she witnessed at the hospital. She then started the uphill journey fighting her own personal battle including stints in her own hospitals mental health unit and separations from her family….
Read Part 2 HERE