Typically, getting a high-end garment custom-designed or tailored involves visiting a physical store. Syed Obaid, CEO and co-founder of The Jacket Maker, is working to change that paradigm by allowing customers to design bespoke custom-tailored jackets from the comfort of their home. Currently, the company offers high-quality leather jackets, outerwear, and bags on its website.
Why did you start your business?
Right after graduating, I started my career at one of the world’s largest e-commerce incubators. I spent most of my time in online marketing. I always had ideas about customer support and innovation. I wanted to give those ideas a chance, and that’s where The Jacket Maker was started. Why leather jackets? I started looking at different business models and found that leather jackets were very overpriced. It’s mainly because the supply chain is really long. I decided to cut the supply chain and go for a direct-to-consumer model.
How did you fund the business at the start?
I used my personal savings.
Managing the Business
How do you manage cash flow?
I believe in the power of technology. We’ve developed this website and content management system to manage everything. Within that custom-designed portal, we’re also managing cash flow.
What’s the most challenging thing about running the business?
The hardest part of being an entrepreneur is creating an eagle-eye perspective. There are so many things to do. More often than not, you get obsessed with a particular operation and tend to ignore some others. Developing that eagle-eye perspective so you can look at multiple things is one of the hardest things, I find.
What’s the most rewarding thing about running the business?
In general, creating value is the most rewarding thing for any entrepreneur. In our case, looking at people wearing the product we create is the most rewarding thing – Especially the custom products we make for our customers. The happiness they get from wearing it and looking at their pictures and reviews is the most rewarding part of doing this business.
What’s the biggest mistake you made when you were starting out?
There were days when I was working day and night to craft marketing campaigns and I was obsessed with improving the user interface of the website. I would get obsessed with one particular problem and get totally engaged in that, leaving other parts of the operation to suffer. Over time, I was able to develop a clearer view of the big picture, which I call the eagle-eye perspective.
What’s the smartest thing you did when you were starting out?
We didn’t have human resources at the start because of budget constraints. This was really a problem. Despite budget constraints, I always wanted to hire the best of people. The solution we found was to hire people on a part-time and consulting basis. This meant that we had a lot of good people working for us, even if it was just part-time, and we got a lot of good advice from them.
What advice would you give to a new entrepreneur?
Always have your contingency plan ready. In the world of startups, no matter how much you plan, things can go wrong. Your ability to respond to problems or crises becomes as important as mapping your roadmap.
What’s next for The Jacket Maker?
We want to offer the best experience on the online platform. We’re developing an online tool that will let people design their jackets online because right now, the process is manual.