Did you always want to run your own business?
I actually always thought I was always going to go work for a big company and that is what I was doing in my final year of studying Business Marketing at University. I had essentially achieved my dream by age 19 but I quickly realised that working for a large company wasn’t for me. I wanted to be involved in all aspects of the business instead of just Marketing. I made the decision to go work for my parents small business while I worked out what I wanted to do.
When and why did you start Exodus Wear?
I started Exodus Wear in August 2009 while I was working for my parents and it was actually by accident. One of their employees had a cousin in Year 12 who was organising the leavers jackets for her grade so we decided to take the order; how hard could it be right? Well it turns out it is extremely hard and the whole order stuffed up. It was a nightmare and so embarrassing because our employees poor cousin had to cop it from the rest of the grade for ordering through us. We had to find a factory to replace the jackets because the initial factory refused and so all in all it took us nearly 6 months from when we first took the order to successfully delivering it.
Despite all that I felt that there was a business opportunity in Year 12 Jackets if we could just get them right from the start. Because I was fresh out of University I put together a business proposal for my parents and presented it to them one night. They said no. That order we had done was such a nightmare that they wanted to steer clear from doing custom jackets ever again. Something inside of me wouldn’t give up and so I just kept nagging and nagging them. It helped that I lived with them and worked with them so I could nag and nag them 24 hours a day. Eventually my parents agreed to invest $6,000 into the business mainly so it would shut me up. I used that $6,000 to launch Exodus Wear and the rest is history. Check out Elyse telling this story on Youtube:
What do you in your free time?
I am not good at sitting still so I don’t really watch TV or spend much time just chilling out. I thrive off being around people so a lot of my free time is spent catching up with friends and family. I absolutely love Sydney and think it is one of the most beautiful cities in the World with so many wonderful events always happening around the city. I get inspired by going on a ferry ride around our beautiful harbour or going to an art gallery.
What have been some of the best and toughest moments running your own business?
There is a quote about startups that I really love by Marc Andeerson the founder of Netscape. He said “You only ever experience two emotions: euphoria and terror. And I find that lack of sleep enhances them both”. This has definitely been the case for me. One day Justin Bieber might wear one of your jackets and then the next day you find out a huge batch of fabric can’t be used because it was damaged in the treatment process so we are going to have to air freight 1,000 jackets to get them delivered on time. It is a really emotional journey which is sometimes hard to manage. I think I have gotten better at knowing ways to reset myself if I am ever having a really tough day.
What is next for Exodus Wear?
World domination. No really. I have this audacious goal to be the leading custom jacket company in the World. I want to be walking down the streets in New York and see somewhere wearing one of our custom jackets. This year we will add a few complementary products to our range but we don’t want to steer too far away from our core product range of custom jackets. This is our strength and I don’t want to lose focus by doing too many things.
What advice would you give to someone starting a business?
Just start. I think a lot of people spend too much time planning and thinking and not enough time doing (I obviously spent very little time planning!). I am not saying to go quit your job and run a business full time but whatever your idea is start working on it in your spare time, see if you get traction and then slowly build from there. You don’t want to look back with regret that you didn’t even try.
Check out our YouTube channel to see more videos by our Founder sharing business advice and more about Exodus Wear