Dave always dreamt of building his own brand. Finding himself in the middle of London’s techno scene, the lack of authentic brands inspired him to start Nocturnal Creature. In this blog, you can learn about how Dave survived a near miss and turned what seemed to be a business plan destined for failure into London’s hottest nightlife style startup. Imagine walking into a club and seeing the dance floor packed with people wearing your product… A must read if you’re building an on-trend brand.
Dave, thanks for taking the time to talk over NC! Tell us how it started…
It’s a coincidence really, I’d known of Teemill for a while and asked a mate who worked there if they could help source a load of t-shirts. I was working in a bank doing business loans so I know what it takes to start a firm – also I’ve seen lots of businesses that have failed, so my priority was low costs and consistent margins so I was in profit as soon as possible to sustain the thing. But also I really wanted to make something authentic and cool that was the highest quality. It was a lot of work to do all of it, to be honest. I was working on getting a small loan so I could buy my first batch of stock and pay for my website stuff.
When I first started up, I nearly ploughed everything I had plus a big loan into starting up the dream. It kind of makes me feel sick thinking I was going to borrow all that money when I did the whole lot with Teemill for free, in a day. Actually, it does make me feel sick! Such a close shave.
The guys basically said stop – don’t get the loan – go get a Teemill account first and try that. I did that and I guess the rest is history.
Dave, such a funny start! Exactly the reason we built the tech – but the big story is how you’ve used it to create such an incredible following. How did you build your brand?
Well, I have no web developer knowledge or design experience, but I do know what I want to see. I know what looks cool and what was missing from the scene. I think that’s really important – you have to stay true to products that you like and make a brand that looks like stuff you’d like to buy.
If you’re not excited about the new products so that you can wear one yourself, you have to try harder!
For me that was all that I needed, I mean, Teemill is so easy that it takes five minutes to make the site look the way I wanted it. And it automatically works on mobiles and stuff. So the rest of the time I’ve just been working on my photoshop skills to get the designs right.
Seems like your approach is to solve the issue by getting stuck in?
Yeh, you can teach yourself so much these days on youtube you know? Knowledge is free. I learned through looking at other brands and reading Teemill blog photography tips, I always felt my brand was a bit basic or missing something – once I started putting my designs on people in the place where they’re relevant, basically on DJs in clubs, the brand just went mad.
So that’s what cracked it then, the pix?
Yeh, I obviously didn’t need to invest any time or money in stock or the site so I spent a bit on buying some of my own gear and getting the right people wearing it. I should say though if you don’t have a photo it didn’t happen. Nobody ever buys stuff just because someone else is wearing it – sponsoring people or whatever isn’t worth it alone – you need to get the shot and create great stories around it. And then I use that on social media, like having famous DJs or producers wearing product at big clubs. That’s what NCLDN is about.
It’s interesting how you invested in the brand, were you also mindful about that?
Totally, you guys set people up and get people started so they’re in a place where they can’t lose really, I mean you’re in profit from day one. But it is a business at the end of the day, so I needed to invest in growing it. Otherwise, I’d never make any money. Mostly I invest time, making great stories for newsletter content or social media.
The most important thing is about tracking my return, whether it is increasing my followers or selling more tees.
I pretty much reinvest everything to grow it. But only where I can track it. With Teemill apps like google analytics and facebook ads plugin I can learn what works – it doesn’t always, but the main thing is being able to learn from your mistakes like that.
So what’s next for NC?
Right now I am just having fun with it. I am not sure if Nocturnal Creature will ever be the biggest brand in the UK or if I’ll be able to go full time with it.
The great thing about doing it with Teemill is that I can pick it up and put it down whenever.
I had a mad month at work last month and then went on holiday. Because all the shipping and returns stuff is sorted automatically I literally don’t even think about it some days. Other times I get really inspired and I go an refresh the store. I think I might start another brand on Teemill soon to do with horse racing, my other passion. See how that goes.
Thanks for your time Dave really appreciate it, sure it will be super useful to other brand founders. Any last thoughts or shoutouts?
I guess I’m just glad I didn’t get the loan and do it the difficult way, so cheers for that! And thanks to my girlfriend for putting up with me going out to clubs and talking about it all the time… but you know, when the night falls, the dancefloor calls…
If you’d like to start a brand, check out Teemill.com, it’s free.