Meet Brody: Student Turned Retail Entrepreneur

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Brody Hatch has always had an entrepreneurial side.

When he was 18 he had the opportunity to sit down with Arlene Dickinson, venture capitalist from CBC’s Dragon’s Den, to talk about the future of his first company, Canuck Lacrosse, that he had hatched when he was just 15 years old.

Despite his success with his first company, Brody wanted to be sure that he was selling items that had been produced ethically and so disbanded Canuck Lacrosse in search of something new.

Now, Brody is CEO of his own retail brand of clothing and accessories: Nude Voice Apparel, a company that hopes to supply sweatshop-free clothing with 10% of sales going towards a variety of different charities.

Taking the first step to becoming an entrepreneur is a big one that might seem impossible at times. Balancing your own company with another job or school is another big commitment, but Brody looks like he’s got it covered. TalentEgg sat down with Brody to get the scoop on starting and owning your own business.

Q. First things first, why retail?

A. Growing up as a kid I was always the creative type – give me crayons, paint, chalk and you were guaranteed to have you walls covered in art by Brody.

I loved working with the tangible. There is something about receiving or buying goods that gives one a feeling of accomplishment and excitement – I wanted to give people that feeling through my art/work/product.

If I am to look at the reasons for Nude Voice in specificity it was simply because I had previous experience that I could harness to make it great. In addition to that of course I was passionate about creating.

Q. So what’s Nude Voice all about?

A. Nude Voice Apparel is an apparel and accessories company that provides socially responsible products. We gather designers from all over the country to design and sell through our brand giving them exposure, and in turn providing our Nudists (our customers) with a story to each and every product.

In addition, our Nudists choose which charity of our supported causes they would like us to donate 10% of their purchase to. We encourage our Nudists to wear their pride on their chest and become a more informed consumer in society.

Nude Voice Apparel supports many social issues such as: LGBTQIA equality, water development in third world developing countries and aid to help eliminate child exploitation in developing nations.

After all, we at Nude Voice believe clothing is meant to cover the body not the person. The problem is most products don’t have a happy creation process. The top you are wearing right now has a story, but could you bare to hear it?

Q. Why do you love retail?

A. I’ve had experience with owning ventures in both products and service.

With a product a consumer can look at it, understand it, know how it works, and make a decision to purchase it all without ever having a customer to business conversation, for the most part. However, the service industry requires constant communication and is heavily reliant on how the client receives that service.

Providing an excellent product with excellent service is a win and I love having both interactions together. You tend to only find this in retail.

Q. What’s been the best part of starting up a retail company?

A. Although our company is relatively new, launching back in February 2013, I previously had owned an apparel start up when I was in high school.

That being said, when I look at the two experiences then and now, the best part of both was that satisfaction of owning a business, more importantly, a business that created a tangible product that could be shared, worn, re-worn, handed down, etc. It happens today and I still get shocked when I walk down the streets of Toronto and I see a complete stranger wearing a Nude Voice shirt, or get random picture messages from friends with pictures of random strangers they took of in restaurants wearing the Nude Voice threads.

It’s incredibly humbling to know that someone woke up one morning and decided that his or her look that day was going to be a Nude look. A look that our team worked hard to design for them. That has to be one of the perks of retail by far.

Q. Any tips for aspiring retail entrepreneurs?

A. Do your research, ask questions (lots), and create the brand step-by-step (there is no fast-tracking this).

You should know what proposition value your product has in the current market, or perhaps you’ve created a product that is first to market – in that case know how you are going to leverage that product to ensure other entry products can’t compare to it.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you don’t ask them, those questions can turn into problems. Problems that could have been avoided if you had just asked in the first place.

Find a mentor or someone who is already in retail. Learn what line sheets are, what an MSRP is, etc.

Lastly, create the brand. Know what the values of the company are, what you are offering, and why the consumer needs it. Without a need, no one will buy it. Branding also enables your company to differentiate from the abyss of other products that are sure to either already be there, or are quickly headed your way.

Q. What’s the best piece of retail advice you’ve been given?

A. One of the best pieces of advice I have ever been given that relates to retail is this: “Make it more than about the product; people want to feel they are part of something.”

This was advice given to me from a mentor I had growing up and it’s true. If we look at brands like Apple, they create the product but they make it more than that. At Starbucks, they serve coffee but make you feel at home in the ‘third space’.

If you can offer more than just the product itself the chances for success are much higher.

Learn more about careers in the retail industry in TalentEgg’s retail career guide!

Photo credit: Nude Voice Apparel & Vogue Charity Fashion Show 2012-2013 

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