November 1, 2015
Fame Then Fortune
Innovator, self-taught designer, label maker, business owner and software developer Brad Pengelly is cut from a different kind of cloth; the epitome of a young entrepreneur creating success of his own design, all before he hits 30.
Clothing and garments have long been the fabric of 29-year-old Brad Pengelly’s entrepreneurial background. First was label Jamie Fame, refined garments of denim, leather and jersey; originally a menswear label established from a home garage that evolved into men’s and women’s wear, shoes and accessories.
Then, there’s ongoing success in the niche of screen printing; the takeover of a business that resulted in a turnover increase of more than 1300 per cent over a three-year period. And now, complementing the screen printing endeavour, is the ‘Silicon Valley’-esque tap into the Sunshine Coast’s wave of digital innovation – developing a software application. “To go from designing fashion and shoes, to looking at user interfaces and functionality from software, it’s an unexpected turn,” Brad laughingly admits.“I think if I could draw a parallel between the two businesses it’d be that I’ve managed to find a niche for both of them. “When I see a new feature put into the app, it’s the same feeling I used to get when my clothing samples came back.”
As an 18-year-old Sunshine Coast local, studying a business/marketing degree at university, Brad began designing t-shirts with ‘punk anarchy’ slogans, for “beer money”, before officially launching now-established label, Jamie Fame, at 22 years old. Initially a menswear line, Brad capitalised on the burgeoning success to launch a jewellery line, and after picking up that the line’s XS and S men’s leather jackets were selling rapidly to women, he diversified to include women’s fashion, and shoes, and began manufacturing in Bali, with a breakthrough season in autumn/winter 2009.
For eight years, Brad headed up the brand, with Jamie Fame at one point boasting just shy of 70 stockists internationally. That was until a slide in the retail environment and business turbulence, coupled with a desire to settle in Kawana with his girlfriend, Skye and their pet dog, saw Brad make the decision to let Jamie Fame run its course. “I still look fondly on that brand name … if I can take anything from the business as a whole, is that I learnt and it changed and bettered me,” he says.
As that chapter closed, another opened in the form of a screen printing business Brad had quietly owned in a partnership for years. Brad had already taken over two side-by-side warehouses and an existing screen printing business, rebranded and obtained a business partner, before investing his efforts into Budget Screen Printing nine months ago. “I’ve built and grown a screen printing business from the garage, to buying out another local printer and increasing the combined turnover by more than 1300 per cent in three years,” he says.
And much like the niche Brad identified in his Jamie Fame days, resulting in the womenswear line, his keen eye spotted another gap in the market.
“I found the way we were quoting was quite antiquated,” Brad explains.
Frustrated by having to manually quote a plethora of raw material and embellishment costings, and with much of his business originating in an online marketplace, tech enthusiast Brad brainstormed a spreadsheet concept in a Balinese hotel room on a Jamie Fame trip last year.
“I started shopping around to see who could turn the spreadsheet into a Html version so we could have it online, run via a Cloud base,” Brad says.
“Over six months we’ve built this application and we are now in the throes of creating a cloud-based application/CRM that I intend selling as a SaaS (Software as a Service) model into the garment decoration industry.
“We have a domain waiting for it, and plan to take it to market at the start of December and push it flat out from the start of 2016,” shares Brad; at the time of our interview the software is still under lock and key, only being used in-house at the screen printing business. “When you hear of Snapchat being worth over a billion dollars and a 21-year-old guy starting Instagram that are suddenly billionaires – that is so inspiring,” Brad says.
Software innovator in the making perhaps, but Brad credits his “circle”; the support and belief of his family and friends.
“Try and find people who challenge your way of thinking and spark that creativity,” he imparts.
“My mum and dad are just incredibly supportive, my sister is an incredibly successful girl – those things are the pillars of success, that is the reason I manage to get anywhere.”
All part of the threads of success, Brad considers what could be next on the drawing board.
“I have no idea where the future will take me – the want of money for beers when I was 18 years old took me into something that changed my life.
“I always say, just keep your eyes open and take a calculated gamble. I love rolling the dice on an idea.”