• j u s t s t a r t

I get a lot of questions about how I started TRU; how a young girl from Barbados started her own clothing brand and sells it Internationally online…

My answer remains the same... ⁠I put my head down and I found a way. There is no easy way to start a business or brand and it sure isn’t smooth sailing from the get-go. It takes time, money, self discipline, drive and obviously you need to have a really great product.

In the beginning ing when TRU was just an idea and I was trying to find a way for a small brand from Barbados to be seen and heard as an International Brand. For me, being an International Brand means being sold online, shipping worldwide, being seen in different markets overseas and being competitive with them also! Now, in my time trying to work out how I would be able to achieve this, it became quite clear to me, that to do everything from Barbados is possible, but you need to have endless funds and an absurd amount of patience, which wasn’t quite cutting it for me.

So I really had to put my head down, start to focus on what my goals were and do a hell-of-a-lot of research on how I could get all this done. I made it my mission to put all my research together and come up with my business plan on how TRU would become an International brand.

So after trying, trying, and trying again, I came to the conclusion that I had to think like an International Brand to be an International Brand. So I began outsourcing, going overseas for different aspects of the business, starting with the registration, now those from Barbados know what I mean when I say it’s a ‘p-r-o-c-e-s-s’ to do anything official in Barbados, I’ll have you know though, I registered my company within a few hours, get this - online (mind-blown 👀). Plus I registered for a VAT number, opened a business bank account to be able to accept payments online, and this was all completed in a 5 day trip to the UK. For me, this was like magic ✨ - because this is how it should be, but I was just used to things taking forever and a day to do in my home island, that I was TRUly shocked and how quick and simple the process was. Even for trademarking! Side not: I am a UK citizen, but I was told that even if you aren’t you can set-up your business in the UK, my advice is to do some research, make some calls and get all the information you need before moving forward.

Naturally production came next… I had a great team in Barbados that I was working with in producing my luxury tees that were for sale in Barbados, but I needed to be export ready, affordable and have room to grow the product portfolio - which, when analysed properly, it made the most sense to source manufacturing outside of Barbados. So with the connections made through a fellow, very talented designer/good friend & #hotmama, I managed to head over to Colombia and meet my new manufacturing team and I have to say that I couldn’t be working with better people. They’re passionate about what they do and we work well together in bringing each collection to life! The growth has been swift to say the least! From our very first collection just being 3 styles in a few colour-ways, now producing tees, athleisure, premium denim and other good essentials.

Next came the website and domain. This usually freaks people out because they think it’s super hard to do on your own or they think they need to hire someone to do it from scratch. Well get with it! Now they have such great choices of platforms to choose from, there’s Squarespace (what I use) and Shopify & many more! (but these are the two that were researched the most by me and my top two choices). Now I have my website up, I designed it myself and I have the option to work on it daily - (shout out to my homegirls who always send me screenshots of my typos to fix, you da real MVP(s)). I can accept all major credit cards online without insane transaction fees - YAY! AND everything links to an accounting app so all my books are in order - talk about a one-stop-shop for all your business needs! It’s super handy for me to be able to just log on, fix my typos, freshen up the homepage, add new photos, add event dates and products all by myself! No need to hire someone to do it for me and be charged by the hour $.$

So that’s business registration, production, online store, now comes the interesting part…. Distribution of the orders! I’m working with a fulfilment centre based in the UK who genuinely, I will recommend to anyone because they really are such a great team and are willing to go above and beyond for you in the many situations that arise in day-to-day business with an online store who ships Internationally. No I’m not bothered about ‘sharing this information’ because I believe this world is big enough for everyone to go after their passion. However, if you’re a copycat, that’s a different story for a different day 👀

I could never forget my accounting team who are so in love with TRU. They are just as excited as me for all my pop up shops and other plans for the brand that I have going on! It’s so refreshing when we chat about new projects and getting things in place, because they are thrilled to be working with ‘a trendy brand from Barbados’ - yes, that’s a quote and yes I am beyond happy that people in Spain think TRU is trendy, especially people that I work with on a daily basis:))

In terms of in-person sales…. I get asked all the time in Barbados ‘when are you opening a store??’ and to be quite honest with you, no time soon! For me personally, I get a thrill in planning and prepping for a new project so my pop-up shops that I’ve been doing in London are really what makes me feel fulfilled. So much so that I’ve got two planned for this summer! If you haven’t already, check our events page to get the exact locations and dates! Also stay tuned for some cool things coming to Tel Aviv later this year 👀

It’s amazing how this small brand has outsourced all aspects of the day-to-day runnings in more than 5 countries and we continue to grow everyday when new opportunities arise! I have also taken small steps towards #SustainableFashion with all luxe essentials (tees, sweatshirts, denim, joggers etc.) being made from organic fabrics like #pimacotton - I’m also testing new fabrics like linen and other blends for the new collections that I have planned!

As for growth in new markets - this will come in time, when you have a really good message and product. I’m working with a few new companies that have grown not only my brand awareness, but also online sales and in-person (at my pop up shops) sales in new places. Just remember to always read your contracts fully, because some companies trick you, while some (the ones I am working with right now) are amazing and are really there to support you and help you grow in the best way possible! If marketplaces aren’t your thing, then Facebook Ads are for you! My advice here is get to researching and find what will work best for your business and product/service.

I know, it’s a lot to take in. I wanted to share this blogpost with you because I know that some people might be scared or maybe think it’s super easy and that anyone can do this ‘entrepreneur thing’. The reality of it is, if you have the passion and the self dedication then you’ll do great because you’ll always find a way, but if you lack those qualities then you might run into some problems down the road. You also need to have some faith and just move forward with your plans, it’s easy to get lost in the planning and never execute, but stay driven because you can do this! It’s a balance that you have to have daily.

I am lucky because I have a strong support system of family, friends, other local designers and of course, my TRUPERS who always motivate me and inspire me to keep going!

All this being said, you can plan and prep as much as you like and there will still be situations that arise out of thin air, but you’ve just got to handle it. Some people think that you have to have all your ducks in a neat and tidy, perfect row - well breaking news, ya don't. Having a business isn't easy, and running it alone is even harder, trust me I would know. The behind the scenes is insane sometimes, but I have to say, without every problem I've had to face and find a solution for, I would not be where I am today and I am beyond grateful for the lessons I've learned along this journey. With a bit(lot) of coffee and persistence, there’s nothing you can’t do. Just start small and work your way up!

⁠If this inspired you enough to have a look and support my brand, then give this post a like, share, comment and if you need a new tee or denim jacket or dress or…you get the point- then you can hit up that shop page ⁠& if you've been debating whether or not to start that thing you’ve been constantly thinking about, why not just do it? What’s the worst that can happen? If you’re passionate enough, you’ll do the work and get it done, I can promise you that. So put that pen to paper or your fingers to those keys and get to work! You can actually do anything you set your mind to.

love always,

em. x

ps. I’ve attached some images to see the transformation of TRU throughout this crazy journey, have a browse and let me know what you think!

Emilee Troulan