Welcome to my Crowdfunding page for Vypex, here is our story so far.
My name is Tom. I'm 23 years old and I am a Computer Science teacher from Leicester, now living in Nottingham.
Back in 2015, as a Business & Marketing student at the age of 20, I wanted to be able to make money for myself and not rely on student loans. With bills to pay throughout the summer, the student loan did not cover this.
I love going to the gym, the lifestyle, and I recognised how important it is to look good in the Gym; if you look good, you feel good too.
So, I took both of my passions, fitness and fashion, and combined them. Within 1 day I had set up the name, a quick website and the social media pages ready to promote.
I also registered the trademark 'Vypex' in the UK, and this is registered for another 7-8 years.
I spent lots of time researching product manufacturers, and unfortunately I had some bad experiences. The main problem was that the quality was not what I wanted, and I didn't want to sell products for the sake of it. I eventually found a supplier I wanted to work with in China, but they only worked in minimum order quantities of 100 per product.
So, I made (what in hindsight) was a pretty poor judgement. I borrowed money from friends, family and my savings in order to buy all of this stock. But there was a problem - yes, I have the stock, but I have no-one to buy it, and no money left to spend on marketing the brand!
This was a steep learning curve for me. I had spent over £4000 on stock and had nothing left. Now obviously these products were made in 2015, and now they would be 'out of fashion'. So since then, I eventually got some sales and managed to shift a lot of it and get some money back to re-invest.
I have never paid myself from this business; yes, never. As I've grown older and now worked in other industries, I know how to do this properly. As I now have a house, a mortgage, a car and other bills to pay, living is expensive, and the only way I fund this business consistently is through myself; I just don't make enough money, the last 3 years have all been losses.
However in March of this year I hit a big turning point and had my best month ever, but haven't been able to re-create that. Due to the lack of funds, I have been unable to create the ideal brand experience in terms of marketing, showing the lifestyle that comes with the brand.
There are many other learnings I have made and are still to make, but I am here on crowdfunding to raise some capital for this business as I truly believe it could be the next big thing. I still run this from my little office at home, but I'd love to be able to pay myself one day.
Unfortunately, my Mother passed away from Cancer in August 2017. This hit me hard, and the business suffered. The Women's range was inspired by her, it was actually her idea. But, because I haven't had the money to market it, it's still in my stock room 3 years after I ordered it from our supplier, and I want to change that.
Our customer base is split about 40% UK and 60% Rest of World (mainly North America and Europe). The apparel market, specifically gym wear, is highly competitive. We started as this, but now I want to shift it to 'athleisure'; clothing that is worn in and out of the gym and is just as comfortable and stylish.
I know what the business is capable of. Here is what I managed in March. This was our best month ever, and I want this and more for every month:
So, here is what I intend to do with any capital I raise:
1. Spend more money on content marketing - create videos and real images that show the culture, the lifestyle and the ethos of the brand. This would be done through full-time videographers and photographers who are artists of their trades.
2. Utilise influencers more - influencers are expensive. Any I have used have been free, as I don't have the money to pay them. I know that they have a big ROI as they reach so many potential customers. The average influencer I wish to use costs anywhere between £250 - £500, but the ROI could be big on this.
3. Invest in better products - I will freely admit that my current product range needs refreshing. New ideas, innovation and excitement is lacking; everything is bog-standard as it's cheaper. Therefore, I want to re-invent the product range and really be seen as an innovator in the industry.
4. Invest in back-end and customer support systems - I currently use Shopify but would like to upgrade to a better package for it's reporting and customer relationship tools. I also want to be able to provide better customer service to my customers as I feel that's lacking, and it's probably the most important thing in retaining customers and creating recurring revenue. I also want to offer better, cheaper and quicker shipping options, specifically for international customers, in order to increase AOV.
I hope you enjoyed reading. If you want to ask any questions, please do feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can take a look at our website here: www.vypexapparel.com and search 'Vypex' on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to find our pages.
You could change my life and my business forever.
Many thanks for reading, hope to see you soon.
Owner of Vypex