Branden Nelson, Founder/Owner of F.R.E.S.H. Apparel
I recently got the chance to catch up with Branden Nelson who is the founder and owner of the hot new clothing line F.R.E.S.H. Nelson, 25, is making some large waves in Long Beach, CA and abroad with his innovative apparel that has a spiritual twist to it. He graciously took some time to give us some information about his business brand and the contributing factors to his rapid success. Check out the interview below.
What is the most effective strategy or strategies you employ to reach your target market?
One of the strategies that we use with FRESH Apparel is that we use biblical references and scriptures to attract both our saved and non-saved customers. The theory behind this is that we make clothing that is appealing to people in general. Those who are believers in the faith will understand and appreciate the meaning behind the clothing that they are rocking. However the non-believer wins as well because they will most likely be advised of the meaning behind the piece that they are wearing and this provides an opportunity for them to be introduced to God. So the strategy that we employ to target our markets is to design clothing that's first appealing to the eye and then allow the spirit that is infused with each garment to do it's work on the customer.
That's really powerful. Your business has a sense of purpose beyond just generating a bottom line. What type of business entity did you choose for your company and why?
Upon establishing FRESH I set the business up as a sole proprietorship because initially it was just me who started on the journey. However through the course of the business year I picked up many business partners and now we have become more of a corporation. It is very true that if your vision can be attained alone, you are thinking too small. Therefore look out for FRESH Inc, soon!
I agree, a lot of entrepreneurs make the mistake of trying to go at it alone and their enterprises never reach the potential that is available to them. What entrepreneurial milestones have you hit and how did you accomplish them?
Throughout the first year of business we have accomplished a lot. Many of these things are accredited to the grace of God and others due to the partnerships that we have made along the way. These milestones include being able to successfully produce 3 fashion shows in both northern and southern California, being requested to be featured in 3 additional fashion shows with other reputable designers, receiving international exposure on American Idol, being guest hosts on Internet radio that reaches over 3 million listeners, receiving a consignment deal with a high end boutique after the first month of business, being infused in the corporate world and given the opportunity to dress the head organizers for their annual women's conference, receiving recognition as an up and coming brand to watch out for. All of these milestones are very uncommon to a new business and unheard of without substantial investors. I thank God for making it all possible and I look forward to what lies ahead.
That is big. Yeah that type of success for a 1 year old company is super uncommon. What is the most difficult part of being an entrepreneur? The most rewarding?
The most difficult part about being an entrepreneur would have to be the many sacrifices that have to be made in order to bring the dream to fruition. In embarking on the entrepreneurial journey you are going to loose a lot of sleep, spend a lot of your personal discretionary income, sacrifice relationships and be confronted with numerous obstacles that you more than likely won't know how to handle at first exposure. However, at the same time the most rewarding is when you can look back at all of those sacrifices and see how your perseverance and commitment to God's plan for your life has provided rewards such as brand equity, loyal and dedicated customers, strategic partnerships, an enhancement of your understanding of the business world or industry that you operate in and an increase in your faith. You sacrifice a lot to be an entrepreneur and those sacrifices come with a big cost; but the rewards are just as big.
So true, an entrepreneur has to be able to make sacrifices for long term rewards. Well said. So what does a regular “day at the office” look like for you in your entrepreneurial endeavors?
A day at the office for me is never regular (ha ha). But a day for me begins at 5:00a.m. I am at the gym by 5:30a.m. getting in prayer while on the treadmill and my devotional while on the elliptical. After completing my hour workout, I'm showered and off to Irvine, CA to my actual office where I am an HR Generalist at Glidewell Laboratories. From the hours of 8:00a.m. to 5:00p.m. I am handling responsibilities that include handling employee relations issue for over 1,300 employees, conducting management development training, working with executive management on organizational development planning, counseling employees and conducting investigations for complaints/allegations of harassment, discrimination and other areas of concerns brought to me by the employees of my company. At 5:00p.m., if I am able to leave on time, I am back on the road Long Beach bound. During the 45 minute commute ride I am usually engaged in conference calls with different vendors, FRESH staff or mentees. Upon arrival to Long Beach, I am off to have a FRESH session with one of my FRESH boys (each mentee has a specific meeting day). After those sessions are wrapped, it's off to the home office to finish up any e-mails that weren't able to be answered on the Blackberry. At that time while preparing the gym bag and picking out the work wardrobe for the following day, I am also organizing inventory, preparing orders or speaking with my designer and graphic artists about an idea that came to me throughout the course of my "regular" day. After all of these tasks are completed I'm usually winding down and preparing to do it all over again by 11:00p.m.
You are a machine man! That takes extreme dedication, focus, and discipline to do what you do on a regular basis. I know someone reading this will be inspired and want to emulate your success. What words of encouragement can you give to someone wanting to start their own clothing brand?
Don't ever place any limits on what God can do through you. If you aspire to do anything, make sure you seek God first and He will in turn open all of the doors that you will need to walk through. However be advised that this journey is not an easy one. But God gives strength to those whom He knows will endure until the end of the race; so press through the challenges, maintain a strong and consistent prayer life and trust that God will bring everything to fruition. Above all have faith in yourself and the unlimited powers of God.
Profound words from an equally profound entrepreneur. Tell us how can people connect with you and buy merchandise?
I can be reached via email: firstname.lastname@example.org, the FRESH website (iamfreshonline.com), Twitter: twitter.com/iamfreshonline, Facebook: I am Fresh Christian Couture. FRESH Apparel can be purchased online at iamfreshonline.com. Our exectuive team is currently working on in-store placement deals, so please stay tuned for FRESH in a store near you!
That's hot! Before you go, give us the information on any upcoming events for FRESH?
-The FRESH Connection-Business networking event with live entertainment, appetizers, fashion! Saturday, March 12, 2011 at 6:30p.m. at Cafe M (1535 Gundry Ave.Long Beach, CA)
-Rags 2 Rhythms Annual Fashion Show and Merchant Marketplace- Thursday, May 5, 2011 at 7:00p.m. (Cal State Long Beach Student Center)
-FRESHellence Scholarship Award applications will be available in two weeks for graduating seniors who attend Antioch Church of Long Beach and for graduating seniors from Edison High School in Stockton, CA. Applications will be downloadable on the FRESH website or can be picked up from Antioch Church of Long Beach or the Edison High School Counseling Center.
-Fashion Show hosted by the Edwin Hawkins Music Conference- Riviera Hotel, Las Vegas, Friday, July 1st! Show time TBA
Please e-mail us at Branden@iamfreshonline.com is you should have any questions or concerns!
Thanks for taking some time out of your busy schedule to converse with us Branden. We pray your continued success in your endeavors my man.