Donovan Faranando (DF) had a chance to sit down with Bradley Eaton (BE) a young entrepreneur from Cape Town South Africa who owns a sock brand that is invading the clothing market due to its quality, authentic design and loyalty to its customers. Get to read the chat below:
DF: Who is Bradley Eaton?
BE:I am a 20 year old entrepreneur who sees the world as an opportunity to become a part of something bigger than myself. My sole purpose is to be a example for those wanting to squeeze every last drop of opportunity from this life. I aim to do this by conducting myself professionally, being relentless in my pursuit of knowledge, and maximising every opportunity that is presented in front of me. I am constantly in search of new perspectives and ways of thinking that add to my overall understanding of the world. I practice patience, diligence, and optimism in every aspect of my life.
DF: What do you do?
BE: I am currently finishing my undergraduate degree at Vega School in Cape Town, studying brand building and management. I am also working 2 jobs as well as running my company Eaton Threads Co. For the business I run all operations; from sourcing manufacturers and designs, to social media strategy and content creation, as well as everything in between.
DF: The sock industry has grown rapidly in Africa and in Cape Town there is Nic Haralambous who is also making an impact with his brand, what makes your brand unique?
BE: I’ve always prided myself in producing the best quality possible for my customers, and the socks we create at Eaton Threads Co are far superior than anything else in the market right now. Everything from the white text on the top cuff, to the embodied logo stitched into the front was specifically crafted with the end consumer in mind. I wanted to produce something that felt authentic and could show-off the effort that went into producing the product. I wanted the sock to act as a physical representation for those wanting to stand out & leave their mark on the world. The manufacturing process we use is also something that cannot be performed anywhere in South Africa as the process is extremely costly and complex to perform. Because we are a brand new startup, we are also able to formulate relationships with our customers that feel more like a friendship rather than a monetary exchange for goods. Delivering as much value as we can, in every interaction, is something I will hold myself and the brand true to until the day I die.
DF: What challenges have you faced while establishing your brand?
BE: Wow! Too many to actually count – I feel like when you’re running a business everything becomes a challenge (those who run their own will know what I’m talking about). But, to be more specific I’d say finding my manufactures was quite a struggle and after pricing my first samples from one of the ‘best factories’ in South Africa I felt extremely disappointed. So after that I continued my search for the best quality and roughly 3 months later found a supplier that fitted the mould of what I wanted. Everything from knowing what to ask suppliers, to making sure my finances and brand message were always in check has been a consistent challenge, but one that I am eternally grateful for because it has kept me on my toes and has allowed me to learn more than a textbook ever could in this past year!
DF: Young entrepreneurs are considered to be the backbone of the economy, what’s your take on the issue of lack of resources from the government when it comes to startups?
BE: This is a tough question, and one that I cannot answer to the full extend of my ability because fortunately for me I never struggled with finances before. I currently work 2 jobs and use a portion of that income to pump through into my business, especially in these early stages. When I started up, the capital that I initially used was from my own savings in a unit trust that had been set up for me in the years prior. However for the individual reading this right now, I will give you an answer that I think will be of most value to you. I understand that not everyone has access to an internet connection but if you do then you have no excuse. Don’t rely on other third- parties such as the government to provide for you. We are living in a world that allows you to start anything you want, FOR FREE on Instagram, Youtube, Facebook, Snapchat etc. If there’s something you love then make a page and start producing content for it. If you deliver enough value, people will follow you. Get out as much as you can and form relationships with people that can take you places. It’s never about WHAT you know, but WHO you know. If you have an internet connection then actually have no excuse in 2018.
DF: Why are you creative for Africa?
BE: I am creative for Africa because I feel my message has a place to live on. By standing out and leaving my mark on the world, I aim to inspire those wanting to do the same, but might not have done so previously. I want to open myself up to those wanting to hear more, always giving as much value as I can along the way. I am always willing to sit down and have a chat with those that are serious enough, whatever it may be. I have a relentless thirst for new perspectives and different ways of seeing the world. I am passionate about business because I believe that mans greatest burden is unfilled potential – and I want to expose it.
DF: Future plans for Eaton Threads Co?
BE: Without giving away too much, going into 2019, Eaton Threads Co will be producing a variety of other fashion pieces, running a podcast series which will aim to enhance our brand message, working towards a placement in the SAMFW, as well as collaborating with at least 3 famous local artists on some limited addition collections. By the end of 2019, want to have product in at least 40 stores across South Africa.
DF: Any advise to those young aspiring entrepreneurs who would want to follow in your footsteps?
BE: DEFINE YOUR WHY – I’m starting off with this because without it, you will lose. Your ‘reason for being’ needs to be at the core of everything you do in your business. Wavering from it will have serious repercussions. As Simon Sinek once said, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” This is important to remember because sharing in a common belief system is what makes people stick together.
GET ORGANISED – From your bedroom, to your desk that you do your work at – keep everything in order. Make notes on things you don’t understand and things that turned out to be successful. Keep documents, receipts and invoices in safe spaces and file them according to the month that they occur – it’ll help you one day when you need them again and relieve a lot of stress going forward.
HAVE A STEP-BY-STEP PLAN – Similar to the point above, but slightly more detailed. Keeping a constant to-do-list that changes as you go along is vitally important. You can even categorise things into short, medium and long-term priorities if you want to get super detailed! Doing this is important because it also gives you the ability to track progress as you start to tick off bigger an better goals as your journey goes along.
DON’T COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHERS – Period.
CARE – Something that breaks me to my core, is when people couldn’t care less for those supporting them. You have the audacity to ask people for their money, yet you can’t even show support to those doing the same for you? It doesn’t matter if you have 10, 5000, or 7 million customers, your attitude towards them should remain the same throughout.
FOCUS ON WHAT’S IMPORTANT – Logos, colours and icons are have some weight, but they are not the be-all-and-end-all. The product and business model that you build is what counts. Quality, customer service and professionalism will heavily out weigh any fancy logo a 10/10. Care for the people around you, your customers, employees and most importantly yourself. Any business with a ‘silly’ logo can be successful if they’ve got an exceptional business model and product. On the other hand, a business with a beautiful logo, poor product and little care for their customers has no chance for long-term sustainability.
BE PATIENT – Don’t get caught up in the hype, the money, the cars, the watches or the yachts. I say this because people like to front, especially young people thinking they’ve now ‘made it’ because they’ve got a new car or a fancy watch. None of that matters and 99% of it isn’t even real or owned. Stuff takes time, and a lot of it. If you think building a business or making a million Rand comes overnight, this game might not be for you. Start building day by day, brick by brick and don’t look up for 10 years. Find your balance between being hard on yourself while still allowing yourself to grow and make mistakes – I think that’s very important. Nothing happens overnight. If it does, it usually never lasts.
JUST START – The best way to learn is to actually DO, and to take action. Reading a book or watching a video doesn’t count. Go out and talk to people, network and learn through trial and error. If you try and fail, who cares, it’s your lose and no one else’s. But if you succeed, make sure to use that energy and sense of fulfillment to set your next goal (which should always be slightly more nerve racking than the previous one) – that’s how you grow.