Founder & CEO of Gilbano
Tell us about how you launched your brand Gilbano:
I’ve always had a passion for travel and good design. After selling an accessory company I was running in Asia in 2014, I decided travel the world and brainstorm what business I could launch next. Combining my skills, business contacts and passions it seemed logical to start a “travel accessory” brand. I decided to settle in London and to start Gilbano from scratch.
How did the course at the Condé Nast College help you build Gilbano?
The course gave me precisely what I was looking for: It’s an intensive programme with great insights into all aspects of the modern fashion industry, with valuable contacts to industry leaders and helpful lecturers. London is still the number one fashion start-up city so the location of this course was a terrific opportunity to take advantage of.
Is setting up your own brand harder or easier than you expected?
Gilbano is my second business. It has been much easier compared with my first endeavour as I could draw from all experiences. However, setting up a business in fashion is certainly harder than I had expected. In particular the design, manufacturing and logistics process can be very time-consuming and require plenty of blood, sweat and tears.
Describe an average day as founder of a travel and fashion brand.
My days are usually packed with all aspect of running the business: product design, sourcing, production, marketing, sales, social media, and finance. I try to maintain a good work-life balance: I plan my day around a good night’s sleep, healthy food and exercise. Without these I don’t think I could operate well.
What’s the most exciting thing you’ve done in your role so far?
Being in control of your own company and having the freedom to decide when and where to work is one of the greatest rewards as an entrepreneur. So in particular during the pre-launch phase, I have worked from several different city offices including in Hong Kong, New York, London, Brussels, Berlin and Saigon. These city trips continue to be my single biggest source of inspiration.
What are the key qualities you have to have to be founder & CEO of your own brand?
Founding a company and running a company take two totally different skill sets. As a founder, I believe you need a lot of ambition, perseverance and patience. If you are not 100% passionate about your business you will find it difficult to succeed. As a CEO, your focus is on coaching your team members and on facilitating communication between team. Setting the overall vision and strategy will furthermore influence the brand’s success.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of starting their own brand?
When you think you are ready, take action! It’s never been easier to launch your own brand. Many European cities have vibrant start-up communities with healthy eco-systems comprising venture capital firms, co-working spaces, showrooms, pop-up stores, incubators and governmental support schemes. To mitigate risk, I’d suggest working on something as a side project whilst having a regular job instead of going “all-in” right from the start.