Shanghai is a city of entrepreneurship. In our series, 'Shanghai Entrepreneurs,' we talk to people from different backgrounds and businesses about their motivations, experiences and what they have learned along the way.
Founder and CEO of ROJO Clothing, Rónan Kent is a young Irish entrepreneur with an international background, having previously studied in the states and Europe before settling in China three years ago. With a passion for all things digital, Rónan seeks to meld the fashion and tech industries via ROJO Clothing.
What inspired you to delve into men’s suit industry in the first place?
I was inspired by a trip to the fabric market in Shanghai when a few buddies of mine from out of town wanted to get suits made. The fabric selection was terrible and finished suits were ill fitting. I’ve previously had some experience with tailoring and knew I’d be able to provide reasonably priced yet premium quality suits for guys like myself.
What sets ROJO Clothing apart from other bespoke menswear start-ups?
ROJO Clothing places a lot of emphasis on building a relationship with our clientele. We believe a personal connection goes a long way in customer service and, along with the quality of our suits, are key factors that keep our customers coming back for more. We’re also different from other bespoke menswear start-ups as we aim to scale our product range and services without ever compromising on quality.
ROJO Clothing has grown rapidly from a one man business to a blooming company in one year, a considerably short period business-wise. What is the secret behind this astonishing success?
I think the path to entrepreneurship is often much harder than what media perceives it to be. There has been a lot of low points, personal sacrifices and crazy, long hours that I’ve put into the company without knowing what the outcome will be. We initially started without any capital so I wasn’t able to have a team and had to build everything from scratch.
I would say perseverance is crucial and also to be willing to learn new skills, try everything and allow yourself to make mistakes along the way (because those are often the best lessons learnt). I came from a finance background previously, so learning about marketing, for instance, was something I had to stick my head in.
"There’s an ease of mind for consumers when they know everything that goes into the making of their suits."
What is the first and foremost factor ROJO Clothing place in terms of your service and products?
In terms of our service and products, we believe transparency is a key element for ROJO Clothing. This applies to our supply chain, which includes our fabric source, tailors and entire craftsmanship process, is open knowledge for our clients.There’s an ease of mind for consumers when they know everything that goes into the making of their suits.
You are working on a wider product selection already. Is it your intention to keep on expanding?
Yes, we definitely want to continue expanding our service offerings and product assortment as we aim to be a one-stop shop in order to better cater to our existing clients. We aim to include bags, shoes and a curated lifestyle section in our company by 2018.
You are a very young entrepreneur, what role does this attribute play in the course of building your own successful company?
There are benefits as my age provides me with more energy to juggle multiple projects at any given time. I’m also more open to taking risks and maintain very open communication with my team, who are about the same age as me. At the end of the day, sometimes it can be a challenge just to find enough time in the day for work life balance.
Can you give our readers a few insights into suit making?
I personally write a regular Suit Insights feature on our WeChat account (ID: TheROJOJournal), where I highlight details to look out for in a premium suit. It’s something I’m passionate about sharing, so I hope our readers are able to learn a new thing or two from there.
Visit rojoclothing.com for more information.