March 1, 2017
Riding the wave of success
He’s just 18 years old, but Jayden English is already making waves in the surfwear industry. Tayla Arthur sits down for a chat with the enterprising teenager behind a rising brand to uncover the secret behind his success.
Jayden English’s triumph in the business world is proof of the power of social media, and with his generation leading this cultural shift – the world is their oyster, if they are brave enough to take the chance.
The land-locked town of Gatton, two-and-a-half hours south-west of the Sunshine Coast, is the last place anyone would expect a surfwear entrepreneur to blossom. As an agricultural hotspot, it’s as far removed from the beach as it gets. But it is in this small country town that a then 17-year-old Jayden started his surfwear label, Turtl3 Co., back in November 2015.
Approaching the final weeks of high school, Jayden’s decision to take the plunge and start his own business was born from a combination of a need to fulfill his creativity and the growing pressure to decide what he wanted to do with his life.
“Towards the end of school, I didn’t know what I was going to do. I didn’t even know if I was going to go to university and I realised I needed a job or something to fall back on, so I started trying to think of ideas,” Jayden explains.
“I’ve always been into clothing and I did a few designs here and there, although I had never really thought about making a business out of it. But one day I decided to get one made and wore it, and a couple of mates asked to buy shirts off me. And once I saw them wearing them I realised I might be able to make a bit of money out of this.”
Jayden began feeding his designs through website The T-Shirt Mill, but has since gone on to manage the multi-faceted production including designing, ordering and shipping stock, to accounting, marketing and managing his online store and its social media accounts.
If I didn’t have social media I don’t think it would have made it this far. It lets me reach people on the other side of Australia, which I didn’t think it would go that far.”
While it took some convincing to get his parents on board, with Jayden saying they originally thought he was joking when he floated the idea, it was with their support that he moved to the Sunshine Coast, taking up residence in Kings Beach in early 2016 to study a Bachelor of Marketing and Design at the University of the Sunshine Coast.
It proved to be the launching pad he needed – his brand has already cultivated a loyal client base including the likes of NRL players Suliasi Vunivalu, Aaron Gray and Kyle Feldt, and more than 11,400 followers on Instagram.
“It just took off,” Jayden smiles in disbelief. “I think it’s mainly because customers are sharing their photos – I like to show an authentic view of the product as it’s seen by them.
“If I didn’t have social media I don’t think it would have made it this far. It lets me reach people on the other side of Australia – I didn’t think it would go that far. A lot of my customers come from Perth and Port Macquarie, which is how the stores found me – through Instagram.
“Getting the stores on board is probably the biggest achievement for me,” he grins. “It’s a pretty surreal experience; seeing my hats on the rack is a pretty cool feeling.”
Not bad for a self-taught teenager who admits he wasn’t the best student in school.
“I was a good kid, but I wasn’t a huge achiever. I was more sporty than academic,” he confesses.
“I made a lot of mistakes when I was starting out. I should have researched it, but I just had it all in front of me. I was making silly mistakes like not being professional, but I’ve learnt a lot of lessons.”
While the road to success hasn’t always been easy, his dedication to his brand and his determination to make it work has seen him continue to chase his dream of surfwear domination.
“There have been moments where I’ve thought maybe I should give it up and try to get a ‘real’ full time job – like if I don’t make a sale for a while – but I’ve learnt you just have to stick it out and not give up,” he says.
“You’ve got to believe in yourself and back your product all the way, as if it were a brand like Billabong. You can’t short-sell it. This flows onto your marketing too – the way people see your brand and what they think of it is the most important thing, and you influence that.
“You could have an average product, but if you market it well and people have a good view of it, they’ll support it,” he says with wisdom beyond his years.
Jayden’s advice for Instagram success
When it comes to running a great business Instagram account, Jayden says first impressions are everything, which is why it’s so important to only upload great, high quality photos.
“You have to showcase your product well, so it has to be visually pleasing. When someone opens your Instagram account, you want them to see it and think, ‘Wow’ and follow you straight away.”
Encourage customers to send in photos of the product and upload them to the business’s account. This draws followers and customers, as it is involving the customers, while authentically marketing your products.
“It makes it more of a ‘raw’ shot when it’s an actual customer’s photo, so it comes across as more authentic.”