I wanted to be a pilot, I always loved flying; to go after that career I was studying Maths, Physics and Business at college, which I did enjoy, yet by that stage I felt I wanted my own thing – my own business. I loved fitness and training, making it easy for me to decide what business to start, and what to call it.
I decided to start Pursue Fitness, a gym wear and lifestyle brand. A key factor for me was the brand name making sense.
Back in 2012, while I was still at college, I bought the domain name (pursuefitness.co.uk) and set up the social media accounts. That was the easy part. After this, I found myself searching for suppliers online, trying to find someone who was willing to take the risk and offer super-low MOQs. I had saved up £300 from my part-time job a Nando’s – not much for a production run of clothing, the website and marketing.
I had to re-think. I decided to start small, without business partners, without investors and without debt. I managed to find a supplier who completely removed any minimum order quantity stipulations, this was great news, as it meant I could design a number of products that I thought might sell and order each in really low quantities. I spent the rest of 2012 liaising with my new (and first) supplier. I remember sending him £300 by Western Union for my first order and wondering if the clothing I ordered would ever show up. It did. One small box packed with a few t-shirts, a few stringer vests and some shorts.
Then came the website. Fortunately, there was a platform available called BigCartel that was around £10 a month. In 2013 I launched the website and I sold out, although it took a few weeks, it was an unbelievable feeling.
Over the next few months, I spent every penny on stock – doing what I could with what I had. By this stage Pursue Fitness was my full-time job, I was all in.
It was time to move the business away from my bedroom and look for a warehouse, hire staff, and start applying for trademarks. This was a challenge as I was young and, in all honesty, I didn’t know what I was doing.
The most difficult part during this period was trying to juggle all aspects of the business by myself: products, suppliers, marketing, packing orders, post office trips, returns, customer service, photoshoots, the website and everything else that comes with running a business. It’s cliché, but it really was 24/7. I’d often be at the office until 3am working on something that I hadn’t had time to do that day.
In my first full financial year from Sep 2013 – Sep 2014 I turned over £395,000 with a £99,000 profit. All of this was from that initial order and utilising cost-effective ways of marketing. Instagram was chronological at the time and paid adverts did not exist on the platform; this was a great way for me to get my brand out there at a low cost.
Fast forward to 2015, we had settled into our first warehouse and by this stage I had built a small team. Over the next few years, I worked on expanding the business and its product offering, whilst keeping the business profitable.
Pursue Fitness is now a multi-million-pound brand and in 2020 we dispatched orders to more than 130 countries.
Starting a business is not for everyone. However, I still believe that this is a great way to start one – by yourself with little capital. It forces you to find ways to make it work and you never forget when you’re learning from your own mistakes.
My advice to anyone thinking about starting a business is to find something you’re passionate about, you will have to dedicate your life and soul to it, so you can only do that if it’s doing something you love.