Name: Tom Cridland
D.O.B: 1st October 1990
Parsons Green in London, Lilford in Northamptonshire and Campo de Ourique in Lisbon
Did you go to university?
If so.. Where did you go, what did you study and how did you do?
I read French and Portuguese at the University of Bristol and got a 2:1.
Was it necessary in hindsight to what you’re doing now?
No, but my four years at Bristol were some of the best of my life, where I met my girlfriend, Debs, who I’ve been together with for over six years now and with whom I run my businesses.
Was it a clear-cut path after you left in terms of what you wanted to do?
The one thing that was clear cut is that I didn’t feel I would be suited to a 9-5 office job. I wanted to do something entrepreneurial, so I just went for it!
What pressures do you think many twenty-somethings are faced with?
Money is the biggest pressure for most people in their twenties, coming out of University. You no longer have a simple lifestyle, limited expenses and access to Student Loans. If you’re in London especially, the cost of living is exorbitant, and you’ll either be starting at the bottom for a company or you’ll be starting your own company, which pays even less initially than the former. Staying afloat financially is what’s most challenging for the majority of twenty somethings starting work.
How did the idea for your company come about?
I wanted to create a direct to customer e-commerce luxury menswear brand that specialised only in trousers, offering a huge a variety of colours and fabrics, all in one signature, elegant cut.
Exactly what is Tom Cridland and what is the 30 Year Story?
Tom Cridland, as well as being my own name, is also the name of our brand. We’re now one of the world’s leading sustainable fashion brands. We started out, as planned, specialising in trousers, which we’ve had the honour of making for Leonardo DiCaprio, Daniel Craig, Hugh Grant, Ben Stiller, Jeremy Piven and Brandon Flowers. I then diversified our product range with The 30 Year Collection, which comprises sweatshirts, t-shirts and jackets that are so well made we guarantee them for three decades to lead a fashion industry trend to protecting our natural resources by making truly durable clothing.
What have been the biggest challenges you have faced in setting up Tom Cridland?
I started the brand with a £6,000 government start-up loan and no income. Debs worked as an accountant at Moore Stephens and then for Universal Music on starting salaries, and we lived off that and maxed out our overdrafts. We poured our heart, soul and every last limited penny we had into setting up the brand and it was worth it, as it’s a labour of love for us.
Who did you seek advice from and who really helped you in the early stages?
My Dad is my business mentor. He’s never offered us financial support but I speak to him every day for advice. It’s great to be in touch with him so often, as family is really important to us.
What do you have to remain consistent about in running your company?
Consistency is crucial to quality control of our garments, logistics in sending them to customers, social media and keeping on top of correspondence. That said, it’s the variety of what we do that I love most. We run Tom Cridland, our clothing brand, a PR agency, Tom Cridland Public Relations, and we’ve just set up a entertainment company that’s producing an album, organising a charity concert, making documentary and planning a music festival for 2017. It’s hard work keeping on top of everything but we love it.
Do you ever doubt yourself?
I’ve only ever had confidence in my vision, I’ve just doubted, at times, whether my limited financial resources were going to be enough for me to pull it off.
How do you market yourselves?
As the world’s leading sustainable fashion brand and designer of The 30 Year Sweatshirt.
What do you wish you had known then that you know now?
That there would come a point where I knew I’d be able to afford my next Nando’s without grimacing at my bank balance!
Any mishaps along the way?
None that stand out. The grass is always greener, so I find plenty of things to whinge about, but the only thing that’s ever held us back has really been our limited financial recourses when starting out.
What advice would you give other twenty-something’s who are thinking of pursuing a career in this field?
Our next project, The Entrepreneur’s Shirt, is going to campaign for more support and education of young people who are thinking of starting businesses. Any twenty something who is trying to start a business should be encouraged and commended for doing so. They’re the lifeblood of any healthy economy and it’s quite simply disgraceful the lack of support currently available to young entrepreneurs in Britain. My advice would be, don’t listen to any negativity about your idea, if you believe in it yourself, just go for it! Simple, but valuable for many people who doubt themselves I think.
What do you think the next steps are for you?
The Entrepreneur’s Shirt will be released on July 1st, so do keep an eye out for it if you’d like to buy a sustainable luxury shirt with a 30 Year Guarantee, whilst supporting entrepreneurs in Britain and in the developing world through 10% of the purchase price being donated directly to Young Enterprise and Deki by my brand.
What has been your best moment so far?
Making trousers for my hero, Nigel Olsson, who has been Elton John’s drummer since 1969, making friends with him and his lovely wife, Schanda, and going onstage with him and the band in Las Vegas as a result!
What’s the dream?
I love living and working with Debs, so I’ve already reached it!
Tom Cridland Facebook page can be found here
Tom Cridland store site can be found here