Recently I met PJ Sherman of Designr. This is a recent one man venture of his where he aims to sell designer fashion at great prices.
Where were you born and raised, what was childhood like, and what did you want to become when you grew up?
“Born in Southampton, raised in Pembrokeshire (West Wales). My childhood was tough – I grew up on a council estate, so we barely got by on Mum’s benefits (it’s a social scheme for the unemployed in the UK). I got used to working since I was 13, going door to door trying to sell products from a catalogue. I was also entrepreneurial from a young age, taking YuGiOh and Pokemon cards from my friends that they no longer wanted and selling them to other friends. It paid for my lunch. As did selling video game cheats at 20p a pop. I wanted to become a Human Rights Barrister growing up. I read a lot. A LOT!”
What did your parents do for a living, Was there any entrepreneurship in the family? Are your family and friends supportive?
“I can only remember my Mum doing some cleaning for family and friends and working as a night cook at Tesco. She did what she could, raising two children alone. My Dad used to run a publicly listed Bingo company, but that hit hard times before I was born thanks to the global stock market crash. He retired as a Security Guard. They’re as supportive as they can be.”
What does fashion mean to you?
“It’s what’s in right now. It’s completely different to style, which is unique to an individual. The two combine to create someone that you want to look like… an influencer.”
Describe your personal style. Are you a t-shirt and jeans kinda guy or a dapper fellow etc?
“Depends on my mood or where I’m going. I like to look dapper, but I also enjoy being comfortable and wearing a hoodie.”
Who is your favorite designer or what is your favorite brand? Why?
“Hugo Boss for clothes and Mont Blanc for accessories. Both brands are subtle, understated and carry a powerful sense of style and luxury. Beautiful.”
How did you get involved and interested in fashion? Have you worked in the fashion industry before? Did you study fashion at school?
“I first entered fashion in University when all my other friends were working in bars or shops. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I was never content with a 9-5. Repetition bores me. We were called Ageha Mansion and specialised in importing Harajuku Fashion, which is well known now thanks to Christina Aguilera. I spotted a gap in the market as my friend’s friends were spending hundreds of pounds on a single item, so did some research and found out that I could provide the same, for less and still make a 60% margin.
I’ve got no formal training in fashion. My training was on the job with my own business. It’s how I’ve always done it.”
What did you study at University? Do you think your classes prepared you well to be an entrepreneur in fashion?
“Screenwriting. No, not at all.”
How did you get involved with entrepreneurship?
“Strange one. Entrepreneurship is in you or it isn’t. It can’t be trained. You either have the mindset or you don’t. Being a business owner isn’t the same as being an entrepreneur. A business owner has a specialism. Entrepreneurs spot gaps in the market, regardless of whether they have lots of experience. They’re solution finders and they do it better than others.”
What do you like most and least about being an entrepreneur?
“Most = Freedom. Wearing multiple hats – you have to be Sales Director, Finance Director and Head of Customer Service at the same time. Until you scale of course and bring on suitable replacements that are better at that stuff than you are.
Least = Lack of security. It’s always a worry where the next pay cheque is coming from. You have to keep a cash-rich business.”
Talk about your business. Is it just you or do other people help you? How did you get started? How did you learn how to run a business? What have you done in the fashion industry? Do you have any businesses or jobs in other industries?
“Our aim is to be the ASOS/Boohoo of the designer fashion market. Similar to Farfetch, but at even better prices. That’s the goal in 5 years. We care about our customers and want them to have the best for less. Simple philosophy.
It’s just me. I built the website and got on with it. No fluff.”
I like the products you have in your store. What factors go into choosing a product for your store? Like to you want to appeal to people with a certain style, or provide deals on designer looks and appeal to people on a budget?
“The products must be high quality and made with the best materials. We don’t want high street brands on our store. We want it to be aspirational, but accessible. We are appealing to those on a budget that doesn’t include designer fashion, but we also want to attract those that do buy designer, but would rather get more for their buck/pound/euro/yen (you get the picture).”
I know there are a lot of brands that are popular worldwide and some UK brands in your store. What do you think stands out the most in UK fashion versus European (continent) fashion versus USA fashion?
“Who is wearing what. It’s about celebrity culture now. That’s why trends change so quickly. We want to be right at the top of those trends.”
Most internet savvy people are able to learn about designer fashions by watching the various fashion week shows around the world? Do you think people are dressing very similar to each other or are there still a lot of areas that have a style of dress unique to their country/culture?
“There’s still a lot of unique styles, but that tends to be in the more remote places. It’s like with the fashion industry – it takes about a year for something on the catwalk to filter down to high street stores. We want to be right there to capture the next style as it appears.”
What is your favorite book right now and why?
“I read a lot, so couldn’t narrow it down. They change so often.”
Do you have any hobbies outside of your business? What are they? What do you do for fun? What are some things that are important to you in life?
“I like to exercise and spend time with friends. It’s important to unwind and not think about work, which I’m terrible at. It’s why I enjoy writing so much. It’s my one true passion in life, so it’s a fantastic excuse to get away from work.”
What’s the one thing you’re most passionate about?
“See above. Writing is my jam!”
What are your goals for the rest of the year? What are some of your long-range business goals?
“Rest of the Year are to get a steady sales flow in. Long Term business goals are to build the brand into a recognisable, global brand and eventually look at going public or an M&A. We shall see what the future holds, but lets deal with today and tomorrow first.”
What is your favorite quote and why?
“I can’t think off the top of my head. I’d be lying if I said I had a favourite. I have a very personal view of the world and live by my own means. There are some amazing quotes, but none of them affect me. It’s already programmed into me.”
Check out PJ’s website at www.designr-fashion.com for designer fashion at great prices. To save you even more, he is generously providing a 15% discount to Fashionable Entrepreneur readers off their first order. Use code FASHDESIGNR2018.