Tom Cridland is a young man on a mission to make fashion more sustainable. His clothing brand, which sells garments that last up to 30 years, has already been worn by the likes of Daniel Craig, Ben Stiller, Hugh Grant and Leonardo Di Caprio!
To build on his ethical business, Tom's next venture is 'The Entrepreneur's Shirt'. In partnership with Deki, Tom has started this campaign to support other entrepreneurs in the developing world. The crowdfunder campaign, launched on Indiegogo will donate 5% of all funds raised towards Deki, as well as 5% to charity Young Enterprise. We spoke to Tom to find out more about his passion for sustainability, his tips for entrepreneurs of the future and the shirt itself, plus why he loves Deki so much.
What led you into entrepreneurship?
We founded the Tom Cridland brand in January 2014 with a £6,000 government start-up loan. We wanted Tom Cridland to be the world’s number 1 maker of men’s trousers and were inspired by the great entrepreneurial scene in America to start a direct to consumer e-commerce brand that offered luxury clothing at an accessible price point.
Tell us a bit about The Entrepreneurs Shirt. Where did the idea come from?
We are keen to give back and support aspiring young entrepreneurs, as well as those in the developing world who deserve the opportunity to start businesses and work their way out of poverty. We also want to campaign for a greater focus on nurturing entrepreneurial talent and providing basic business training in our education systems across the world.
Where did your passion for sustainability come from?
It was inspired by the incredible film by Andrew Morgan, The True Cost, which unravels the grim world of fast fashion. The people who say that sustainable fashion makes no business sense are either stupid or insanely greedy. Some people in fashion industry use the fact that trends exist to try an argue with the business model behind the 30 Year Collection, taking a stand against fast fashion by guaranteeing our items to last for three decades. The fact that we care about making durable clothing does not mean we have no business sense. The rationale behind the Tom Cridland brand aiming to lead the way when it comes to sustainable fashion is two fold: firstly, the world needs to wake up and realise that fashion is the second biggest polluting industry after oil and, secondly, in business terms it’s a gap in the market like any other. I think the press coverage we’ve received demonstrates that people are interested in these sustainability issues but we need more brands making them more fun and accessible. Fashion is mean to be joyous, after all.
Why did you choose to support Deki?
Small businesses are the lifeblood of any healthy economy and, yet, in the developing world it is nigh on impossible for many people to have the chance to work their way out of poverty through entrepreneurship.
Deki is a revolutionary charity that changes that and a further 5% of The Entrepreneur’s Shirt campaign will also be donated to them to help them give people in countries like this the chance to create sustainable livelihoods by providing access to micro-grants and business training.
As a young entrepreneur how did you go about starting up the Tom Cridland brand? Did you use a loan model?
We started Tom Cridland with that £6,000 government start-up loan 2 years ago when we were both 23. We have campaigned extensively for sustainability in the industry with The 30 Year Collection and designing clothing is true labour of love for us. We were lucky and managed to pay back that £6,000 after a couple of months. We are truly blessed to come from a country where start-up loans are available to young people like us, though far more should be done in our education system to nurture entrepreneurial talent.
What business advice would you give to a Deki entrepreneur in the developing world?
We would, first of all, commend them for having the courage to be entrepreneurial, particularly when they might not have had the support and mentorship they needed if it wasn’t for Deki. We would give them some advice on how to gain more customers, by using techniques to spread the word about their business. Finally, we would advise them to be as lean as possible with their resources and to spend money wisely on the components of their business.
How would you describe Deki to your friends who don’t know about us?
A wonderful, innovative charity that does something we can relate to hugely and we immediately had the urge to support. Giving micro loans and grants to entrepreneurs in the developing world who want to work their way out of poverty is an amazing idea.
What advice would you give to a business looking to support a charity?
Give as much as possible, acknowledge it is a win win and that you benefit from the good PR, and choose something you actually care about. That’s why working with Deki is such a pleasure for us.
Love sustainability? Get involved with The Entrepreneur's Shirt, and support the Indiegogo campaign here. Remember, 5% of all sales go to Deki to help stop poverty and start changing lives.