by Alex Feechan
FINDRA turns 5 on the 1st of December. In some ways it feels like only yesterday that I started this crazy journey and in other ways it feels like a lifetime ago!
One things for sure it’s been one hell of a roller coaster ride! There have been ups and there have been downs. There have been unbelievable highs and horrendous lows, but no matter what each day brings I have always believed in FINDRA.
There is no doubt that reaching this milestone is quite an achievement given the statistics around start-ups and their failure rate. So taking the time to stop and reflect on this journey has been good for me as generally I am always so focused on the next steps and the future plans.
Looking back, how did we manage to build FINDRA from me at my kitchen table to the brand and business we are today?
Way back at the start pre-launch I joined an entrepreneurial accelerator program in Edinburgh called ‘Entrepreneurial Spark’. I distinctly remember the first piece of advice I was given was to ‘get comfortable being uncomfortable”. Little did I know then just how often I would find myself having to get comfortable being very uncomfortable!
I always knew in my heart I wanted to run my own business. At the time I didn’t think of myself as an entrepreneur I just liked the idea that I could do my own thing, It was a thought process that was always there, something that was within me an itch I had to scratch, as they say!
The first memory I have when the seeds of entrepreneurship goes way back to when I was 13 years old, I can clearly remember this moment: it was a Sunday afternoon and I was lying on my bed looking through a catalogue which came with the Sunday papers. It was ‘By Mail’, a mail order collection created by the designer Jeff Banks. As I looked through the booklet I clearly remember being more interested in the design of the clothes, the layout of the pages, the photography, the styling and the models. I had no idea then, but in that moment I was actually working through a whole thought process that I would become very familiar with in the future.
Fast-forward many years! And that 13-year-old girl now reviews images and layout of her own designs and brand for a living!
When I started FINDRA, there were 3 key aspects that I wanted to weave into the brand DNA: good design, consideration to the planet and a strong desire to encourage more people to get outdoors and reap the benefits of being in nature.
Having an idea is one thing though; bringing it to life is another. It takes a great deal of hard work, commitment and more than anything it takes courage. If you have ever heard of, or read, any of Brene Brown’s work then you will know to have courage means ultimately you have to be vulnerable
“Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.” “People who wade into discomfort and vulnerability and tell the truth about their stories are the real badasses.”
Whether I am a real badass is debatable but I am ok with being vulnerable!
When you start out on this type of adventure there is no guarantee that it will work, having the resilience to cope with that uncertainty and wake up everyday and keep looking ahead and believing in what you are doing is crucial.
In the last 5 years, there have been some monumental challenges and very dark days, but in these moments I always return to my vision. A vision that I set out to achieve several years ago, it’s this vision, my passion and determination to fulfil it that drives me forward, it’s what gets me out of bed every morning (well after my morning cup of tea!)
But this is only part of the story, a fellow entrepreneur of mine once stated ‘it takes a village to raise a start up’ and I couldn’t agree more.
The support I have been shown along the way has been at times utterly life affirming. From the unswerving support of my partner (in crime) Roddy, my family, friends, my team and ultimately you, our customers. The interactions and friendships we have made over the last 5 years have made this journey so much richer and so worthwhile.
My team has worked tirelessly to support my vision and fulfil those three core goals. From designing stylish, sustainable, functional and highly versatile garments to winning awards and selling FINDRA to many happy customers all over the world.
Our brand ambassadors have consistently inspired many people to get outdoors by sharing stories of their own everyday adventures and through active participation in the FINDRA social rides, runs and walks.
My partner Roddy has always been there to cheer me on, and to pick me up when the tough stuff gets too much, always supportive, always encouraging, always believing.
I have met some fantastic people in the last 5 years, but none more so than our amazing customers. You are the ones who have taken the chance on us as an unknown brand, spent your hard-earned cash on our products time and time again, championed us to your friends, engaged with us on social media, come to see us at events and even baked us some cake!
And it’s because of you that we continue to exist and grow! And that’s really how we have got to be 5!
So a massive big THANK YOU to all you truly lovely ‘Friends of FINDRA’. Without you we really wouldn’t be here and my vision would be just an idea!
Here’s to our next adventure together!