Since its launch 3 years ago, Band of Boys clothing range has gone from strength to strength with demand increasing the range of boys clothing to include organic baby wear and organic boys staples. Kiwi business woman, entrepruener and ultimate boss babe, Susan Vaz shares some business insight.
Band of boys clothing rules!! How the idea of starting up a boys clothing brand came about.
The idea started small and at the time I felt a really clear sense that it was now or never to start something. All I really knew at the time was that I wanted to begin and the idea has really evolved and grown so much from that first moment that I put something out there! I have always loved fashion and after finding out that I had my second boy on the way, and knowing what a huge gap there was in the boys fashion market it just seemed like the perfect space for me to be in.
What was your background before you launched your company and did this experience help?
My background is corporate marketing. I got my degree and then spent 10 years doing my thing until I had my first son. At this time my husband and I had been running our first business for nearly two years and had been juggling full time work with a start up at home. Once our son was born I stopped working to focus more on the business as it was getting to much to do everything, then a few years later I decided I needed my own challenge so I started Band of Boys. My marketing experience and of course the small business experience has definitely been fundamental to how I’ve been able to drive Band of Boys forward. I feel fortunate that I have had these stepping stones leading me to where I am today and as unplanned as it all was, it has been almost perfect!
Where does your entrepreneurial drive come from? Have you always had it or did it develop from a need you wanted to fill?
I have always been a hard worker and I think that is the key to making a small business work. I have had a job since I was 15 and often had more than one job at a time so I am used to being busy and I just love being busy! I have also figured out that I love a challenge, and with me being a perfectionist I am constantly striving to do things better than the last time and to do things well so the drive is so natural to me, it really is just a part of who I am.
Who has influenced you in your business?
My husband has definitely been the biggest influence in my business. We work together as a team in everything and the thing we talk most about is our work which is always my favourite topic! His support, experience and business mind has been amazingly valuable and I love that we are on this journey together. I have also made some great friends in the industry and we catch up as often as we can to chat about how we juggle everything, what we are up to and we help each other out when we can. I always come away feeling inspired and encouraged and I am really grateful for these relationships.
You have recently released a range of organic baby clothes. What led you to this development and any other ideas brewing that you can share?
We are so excited about our new organic baby collection! Being a boys only brand I really just want to provide something cool for boys of all ages so getting in to the baby space allows the brand to extend our boy gang to include all of the cute babies out there! We decided to use organic fabrics because as a brand we always want to be responsible and conscious of the impact we are having on the environment. Our next move which hopefully you will see within the next couple of years is to put a cool range together for the older boys.
There are so many components to starting and running a company. What advice would you have to someone launching into or planning a start up?
My advice would be just to start the wheels turning. Don’t wait until things are perfect because you could be waiting a long time. I believe that once you start moving forward with your idea then things will more easily happen naturally to help drive the momentum forward; there is nothing more encouraging and motivating than feedback from your community but you aren’t going to get this if you aren’t out there giving it a go.
What do you find most challenging about running a business?
The constant work load is definitely the most challenging. The sense of responsibility for every part of the business is huge; if I’m not driving things forward then no-one is and that is what causes the stress for me as there is never a sense that everything is sorted. But I do love it!
What do you find most rewarding about running a business?
The flipside to the workload is the fact that I can do what I like! I love the flexibility, even though I usually I don’t have time to take advantage of it, I love knowing it is there. I also find it hugely rewarding knowing that my boys can be part of my business and can gain a unique life experience through coming on work travel with me, modelling the ranges and being regular fixtures at the office seeing me do my thing. They are very aware of Band of Boys and I do think they are very proud of the brand – they know it is their family business.
Running a business can be all consuming. How do you manage stress and maintain a work life balance.
I don’t really do a great job of this, and to be honest I don’t even know if there is such a thing as work life balance on a daily basis! I try to work it so that when I’m in my busy season at work, then work gets more attention and when I’m in my not so busy season at work then the kids get a lot more attention so that overall there can be some sort of balance. I have a long term vision rather than a short term one and having this doesn’t make me feel guilty about the days when I’m working too much. What I do to manage my stress is make sure that I exercise in the early mornings so that I am getting time to myself as well as doing something proactive for my mental health – believe me, this makes me a much nicer person! My husband and I also make sure we get out for dinner or away for a mini break on our own as much as we can and are fortunate that my mum is an amazing support.