Entrepreneurship is what some people desire now, but the journey to make it a success is a hard one. There are several challenges, sleepless nights, and years of hard work required to be called an entrepreneur. Paint Your Own Canvas founder Alihan Beba, experienced it at an early stage of his life and now is a young entrepreneur, motivating people around the globe.
Here is an exclusive interview with the 18-year-old designer, sharing some of his life experiences and future visions.
What’s it like being a young entrepreneur, at an age where most people don’t know what they want to do?
I believe that creating and running a business has its own challenges in every age, however, it is rare for someone my age to take such a responsibility and dedicate myself to turn my dream into reality. I grew up following my parents around the world as they had to switch one city to another for their work; Istanbul, Dubai, Hong Kong then New York. The exposure to many different cultures gave me my first inspirations to design patterns.
Initially they were my comfort zone to express myself, however, as I grew up, I realized there could be more into my passion. Being an entrepreneur and creating the brand by taking my patterns into designing a collection have showed me there is so much more than just creativity to be able to run a business. From design to marketing, to sales, connecting with the right audience and content creators, finding ways to benefit other young talents and attending events to promote our collection takes a lot of hard work, but they also teach me the power of creating impact.
When I look at our products now, I think beyond the designs. How could we be better for other young people who wants to reach their dreams like I do? How could this brand be a catalyzer for them? These questions go through my mind daily. So, I would say being an entrepreneur is not just about creating the idea but learning every single step along the way to make sure the idea becomes beneficial for the world, and not just for you.
What do you hope for the future of your company?
Two months ago, we launched our first design contest for other young talents to submit patterns and design 3 items that we are launching with our fall collection. The submissions were very inspirational from very talented people. We are now designing our new products with 3 winners and getting ready to launch them soon.
Our brand was created with the mission to be a welcoming space for all young talents, helping anyone and everyone to reach their goals. We will be launching more projects and contests as our brand expands and continue our dedication to our core mission with everything we do. My biggest dream is to become a very diverse talent pool.
What’s it like being your own boss?
Being my own boss is a different experience compared to the things I have done so far, either which was being told what to do by my parents at home or by my teachers at school. Having my own schedule and assigning myself things have also been a little more difficult. As I struggled with procrastination, this especially makes that harder as I don’t have anyone motivating me to telling me specifically to do my work.
Although it has been challenging, I believe it was also something valuable in my journey of becoming who I am, and who I want to be. It teaches one not only to try and keep themselves determined/continue pushing forward, but also makes one encourage others to get out there and do the same. It is something that builds confidence, and a sense of entitlement, which is especially important nowadays.
What challenges or accomplishments have you experienced and how did you handle it?
I believe that the biggest accomplishment has been turning my lifelong patterns into real products and seeing them worn by many people. It took us trial and error to figure out how to create a unisex collection and the right sizing to fit everyone. I really love seeing people mix and match my patterns, the colors we choose and look so good spending their daily lives waring them.
Another major accomplishment has been growing our audience and getting our mission out to the world. Building a brand does not happen overnight. There are so many steps, so many lessons and feedbacks. The biggest challenge has been understanding and learning the right methods to promote our brand. Even though we have been selling through our online store since the beginning, I believe that buyers love touching the products and seeing them in person.
We have been attending fairs and shopping events to connect with more buyers and connect about our mission face-to-face. It takes a lot of time and effort to learn how to sell your brand, but all the process is teaching me a lot and I am grateful for it all. I remind myself why we started the brand and that the mission is bigger than my personal goals, or financial goals, to keep going with my dream to help other young talents find their safe space with us.
What’s something you wish people knew about you?
I wish people knew more about my background and personal journey. I believe I have a unique story, which I would like to talk about more often. I want people to really understand all the different cultures which I have partaken in and all the things that I have seen which have both influenced and inspired me along this ride. From the colors of my designs, to even the specific patterns on them, my background has been one of the main reasons for my colorful creativity.
What advice do you have for entrepreneurs who are just starting out?
My biggest advice is for them to always believe in their talent, never question it and keep going no matter what. There will always be other people with many talents, and it is important to not compare yourself and be dedicated to your own lane without getting stuck at imposter syndrome.
I believe in supporting other creators and becoming successful all together instead of competing. Everyone wants to climb up and become known for our talents, but the summit does not need to be an alone place. We could all celebrate and rise each other up, rather than comparing our talents. Community and supporting each other are the biggest power.
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