Being a Graduate Business Owner: How to run a sustainable business

Being a graduate in business where do I start. Looking back now I was probably crazy to of just finished university at London College of Fashion, moved home because of lockdown and thought you know what I can start a business. But a year on and Beatrice Bayliss is growing in every way, shape and form. My business is my baby and I have seen it grow from a simple idea to a fully fledged business with a companies house registration, VAT number and everything. 

Has it been hard is the question I get a lot.

Yes, when I say the low moments have been low damn have they been. I have struggled all the way through but every low moment is forgotten when you get a new sale or follower or a happy customer, to put it simply, my business has been worth every damn tear!

I had always wanted to start a business but did I think it was going to be this soon after graduating? No way. But here we are. Beatrice Bayliss is genuinely like my child and its a British, born and bred sustainably focused slow fashion clothing brand. Our ethos is all about enhancing the natural environment around us through our design and fabric selection, yet still keeping our prices affordable. When I was studying at university I wanted to shop sustainable but there were so many sustainable brands out there which were massively out of my price range. So that is where my idea formed to put it plainly.

When starting out you need to simplify! 

Something that’s incredibly common when starting a business is having to do multiple roles, often requiring completely different skillsets, this allows you to develop your knowledge of many different aspects of the business and even if you more on from your business you will have gained more idea of what aspects of the business you like and don’t. For me, setting up a fashion line in the middle of the pandemic I had to do everything, from the making to the marketing and the packaging. But by far, the marketing was the toughest side as things that would normally be easy to sort out, like booking models, suddenly became impossible. Basically I had to get creative; I used friends and family members who felt comfortable in front of the camera, as well as asking customers who sent in photos of themselves in my designs on Instagram.

For every business to succeed you need to build brand awareness and for me as for many founders it’s one of the hardest challenges, to get your business in front of customers. Instagram is an unrivalled tool, and not just for selling. I use Instagram to find magazines and different platforms that match the ethos of Beatrice Bayliss. One of the main issues I came across was, however, you can’t ensure the people you approach to promote your brand share your core principles in sustainability. I found the best way to avoid any problems is developing a relationship with influencers and editors initially, rather than just asking for support.

Always make sure to develop and maintain your network as this will be crucial now and you will most likely rely on it in the future. Building these relationships is all part of developing your network and support system, something which is so important whether you’re starting a new job or setting up your own business. Talk to people! Another great way to develop your network is to find a mentor, find someone who’s in a job similar to you or who’s in a role you want to get eventually, who can coach you along the way. Just reach out to people and ask, a lot of people will answer and help you, the worst thing that can happen is that they won’t reply or say no.

I can’t say enough to just trust in yourself and your abilities, because you’re simply amazing and you can do anything you put your mind too! It can be incredibly hard not to compare yourself to others. If you’ve just graduated, want to set up your own brand it can feel like everyone else knows what they’re doing, but half the time they don’t trust me. Learn from others, from their content, their website, from what they’re doing and harness it rather than be intimidated by it. There’s always going to be someone who’s better than you, and that’s not good for your mental wellbeing. It’s not about being excellent at everything or immediately, it’s about both speaking and knowing where you can improve your business and just keep telling yourself that you’re good at what you’re doing. If you think there’s room for improvement, which there always is, then work on that and work on your skillset, because ultimately that’s what’ll get you where you want to be.

Overall it takes time and you have to be aware of that, a successful business doesn’t happen over night but it will happen if you believe and love what you’re doing. Being a sustainable business often means that things are likely to take longer than you maybe want them to. But within the fashion industry there are clear signs that change is happening; the whole industry is shifting and there has definitely been an increase in demand for sustainable fashion overall. You can see it on Instagram, with fashion bloggers, sustainable brands are getting more of a platform and audience. But like every change, it happens at a really slow pace, which sometimes can be super frustrating. You just have to stay determined and passionate about what you’re doing because believe me it will pay off!

Don’t panic! Don’t force things, keep at it, things will happen when they are meant too!