Alexander Aquino is the founder and clothing designer for Barnabas Clothing Co., a Los Angeles based startup. Aware of the inevitable challenges of running a startup, Aquino is quite clear about how to continue successfully running his company. He’s an inspired entrepreneur who is interested in challenging himself and not settling for anything less than what he envisions. This includes donating 10% of profits to charity. That’s entrepreneurship and giving back in a good way.
We had a chance to speak to Alexander recently and here’s what he shared with us:
How’d you come up with the name for your company?
“Barnabas” means “son of encouragement” and the tagline of Barnabas Clothing is “live a life that’s worth imitating.” When you have a life that’s worth imitating it creates ripple effects. The idea is that if you inspire one person then there are many around that person who get inspired as well.
What’s the very first thing you do at work everyday?
The very first thing I do at work every day is check all our social media. Every day presents new topics and trends. It’s like picking up the paper.
How many people did you start the company with and how many people work for you now?
When I started the company, it was just me. Now we have up to 6 people on the team.
How do you handle frustration?
Frustration is inevitable in the game of start up, so the first lesson was to expect it. How you deal with it is a different thing. I deal with frustration as temporary obstacles. The analogy of a river comes to mind. No matter what gets in the way of river, the water continues to flow by going around or over the obstacle in front of it.
The last frustration was the falling out of two major international investors for Barnabas Clothing Co.. We could’ve thrown in the towel and left, but we didn’t. We downsized and kept it moving.
What’s your office environment like?
At the moment, our offices are virtual. With our team currently being small, we are able to utilize technology and work within our respective spaces.
How do you picture your company in 5 years?
I picture an evolved clothing brand making great strides in fashion with more cut and sew garments with solid distribution domestically and internationally. I also see a brand continuing to give back especially with our philanthropic partners The Living Room in Kipkaren, Kenya.
Who or what inspires you?
Great question, too many to list, but there are many things that inspire me. I am inspired by those who are courageous enough to go against the grain of what society says is “normal.” It inspires boldness.
How’d you fund this venture?
This venture was funded mostly by myself. A long the way, the company has brought on one partner who’s investment has helped grow the evolution of the business. Depending on the investor, I am looking for the right strategic investor to help grow the company. We also will be accessing financial opportunities through creative outlets like kickstarter.com and Indigogo.com to supplement what we are already doing.
Got any great bootstrapping tips for the lean startups out there?
‘LEAN’ is the operative word when bootstrapping. Every cent needs to be accounted for as well as return on investment considered before applied. The needs of the ‘now’ are more important then the perception of what ‘might’ come. Only spend your valuable startup funds on the task at hand. Otherwise, you will bury yourself in a mound of debt and your business will not have a chance to grow. Lastly, be patient.
What would you be doing if you had one year off and $500,000 to spend?
I would definitely spend it on Barnabas Clothing Co.. I would spend it on our continuation of a solid team to support the growing needs of a social-brand. Invest it in the evolution of the brand and line by traveling the world for inspiration and research. And lastly, donate a portion of it to our philanthropy, The Living Room International in Kipkaren, Kenya and establish a consistent give back component to their annual needs.
Do you consider yourself a successful entrepreneur right now?
Yes I do, because I stepped out of my comfort zone to build something I am passionate about.
Website you couldn’t live without and why?
At the moment, facebook.com, twitter.com, skype and BarnabasClothing.com!
Mobile App you’re in love with and why?
- Instagram – I’m a photographer as well, so photos are just part of life.
- INRIX – because I live in traffic hell – Los Angeles. It is part of my survival guide
- Twitter – the constant conversation
- Flashlight – always handy no matter where you are.
Dogs or cats?
Hands down DOGS.
iOS or Android?
Number 1 country you’ve always wanted to visit but haven’t yet?
Number 1 on the list right now is Greece. Santorini and Mykonos.
What’s the greatest thing about your company/website/idea?
One of the things is, when you purchase Barnabas Clothing you’ll see how a portion of your purchase will support a specific project for our partner organization Living Room International, which helps people who have been impacted by HIV/AIDS in Western Kenya. We connect the dots by really equating what that percentage is on each purchase, and explaining how that money can help, whether it’s nourishment for a child, or a new pair of shoes, or a day’s worth of HIV/AIDS treatment over there in Africa. It shows what your impact is.
Connecting that dot with consumers is what I believe is huge. It’s important because a lot of companies say that they are donating to certain charities but you don’t really know where your dollar is going or how far it is going. So when I started Barnabas I wanted to change that.
Where can our readers get ahold of you?
Courtesy of startup founder and BarnabasClothing.com