Whilst at its core We Are Gntlmen is a premium mens shirt brand, it’s more than ‘just clothing’. Matt says: “We make high quality, great fitting, versatile mens shirts, but it’s more than just a shirt on your back; its about a feeling, a lifestyle.
“We believe that every man should be a gentleman; honest, kind, well mannered, chivalrous and well dressed and we’re true believers that when you look good, you feel good and when you feel good, you will do good.”
Before starting We Are Gntlmen, Matt worked in music. His late teens were spent playing in bands, before trying his hand at management roles. The latter stages of this endeavour saw Matt touring with american rock bands like All Time Low.
“I think it was a case of necessity,” he says, when asked why he chose to start his own business – at the ripe young age of 26. “My music career had ended and I knew I didn’t have the formal qualifications to get a ‘proper’ job, so I had to think on my feet. I created the brand concept and found how I could apply that to my interests, and just went for it!”
And whilst he values advice from his dad, a fellow entrepreneur, joining the Entrepreneurial Spark programme in Manchester - after relocating from Shropshire - has been a huge source of help and support on his journey so far.
“I launched the business with £1400, from some savings and a little loan from my dad”, Matt says. “From there, we haven't accessed any outside funding and have really bootstrapped from day one. Right now, we’re in the process of raising investment which will allow us to scale the brand a lot quicker.”
To meet with large buyers and distributors, Matt took a trip to Japan and South Korea which he now recognises as one of his proudest start-up achievements. “As a small brand, this was something way out of my comfort zone but one that provided really positive results,” he says.
And having gotten over that hurdle, the challenging life of an entrepreneur is fitting Matt like a glove. “It’s great - I’ve always been quite independently minded and have always preferred to do my own thing so I’m enjoying every minute of it. I like having the responsibilities and knowing that the buck really does start and end with me.”
And so, to the future, where Matt anticipates seeing the brand create some traction both in the UK and in overseas markets. And in line with the ethics behind We Are Gntlmen, it’s hardly surprisingly that their growth plans aren’t quite what you’d expect.
“Our plans also include venturing outside of fashion,” says Matt, “opening ‘The Gntlmen’s Club’ jazz lounge and building our ‘Gentleman in the Making’ foundation - aimed to support vulnerable young males, growing up with no male role models.”
So the social conscience behind the brand is what Matt feels will be its success. But what of his own successes thus far – how can that be passed on to others? He offers a little wisdom from his journey so far: “Really make sure you love what you do. Being an entrepreneur seems glamorous lately, but there are a lot of tough times and you really need to be obsessed with your business to get through those.
“If you are, then just think big and dream bigger!!"
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