A Chat with Joel Anthony
In our 2 part series of Meet the Directors 1 year on, we chat first to founder and director Joel Anthony on all things business and brand.
Q: One year anniversary! How does that feel?
It truly feels amaaazinggggg!! I can’t believe an idea that I had simmering in my brain a year ago is now a full fledged gentleman’s showroom servicing a fleet of loyal happy clients!
Q: So how did it all begin? What inspired Mr. Fierze?
The idea came one day when I was sorting through my wardrobe wondering what I was going to wear next for an event I had the day after. I had worn every suit in my cupboard, and God knows each suit of mine had been worn in many different variations and Instagrammed to death. I didn’t want to keep purchasing suits and wondered if there was another way. I started looking around for a men’s hire place and was so baffled by the hire options that were available. They were all basic designs and colours that I already had in my wardrobe – black/ blue and grey. By this time women’s designer hire places were booming, and the designer options women had to pick from was insane.
I got to talking with a friend of mine who had already owned a women’s hire boutique in Perth, WA just to talk through the business of hire and all the workings behind. It was then that I thought to myself why don’t I give it a crack and see if there was a market. So I started out with 20 suits with Noal, just going around shopping for suits that we thought were statement designer pieces that men would most likely hire but not think about buying. Little did we know 1 year later, we would be housing a whole showroom.
Q: How did you meet Noal and decided to venture into it together?
Noal and I go back approximately 10 years when we first met at Fashion Design School! He was my first friend all together in Sydney. I had just moved over to Sydney from Perth to venture into a ‘fashion design career’ or so I thought and Noal moved over from Nepal to study fashion design too. Day 1 of College and we became friends instantly.
I had already concocted the idea and knew the only person I would venture into the business was Noal as I had the business/ marketing mind whereas Noal had the creative eye and great styling ability. We decided to take a chance and give it a go! 1 year later… 😉
Q: How has the response to hiring designer suits been?
Nothing short of fantastic! Like I mentioned before when we first started we were taking a big risk not knowing whether guys were going to take to the idea of designer hire. I always knew the idea was a good one, but it’s a whole different thing to have an idea generate revenue and build a clientele. We initially anticipated guys would come in to hire statement pieces for the red carpet, but now we speak to a wide range of clientele including weddings, school formals, uni balls, corporate awards, last minute fixes due to suits not fitting someone anymore, corporate travellers, and even funerals! The list goes on!
Q: Who’s your largest market segment?
Definitely the wedding market! We have created a whole grooms styling package here at Mr. Fierze due to the demand. We start off by having an appointment with the groom and his fiancee to get an idea of their vision and wedding theme, followed then by a fitting with all the groomsmen. We even now offer a VIP service whereby the groom and his groomsmen can be styled at Mr. Fierze on the day of their wedding so that we can dress them up and ensure they look their best before hitting the altar!
Q: You’re now celebrating 1 year this October, how has Mr. Fierze grown?
From the 20 suits we started off with, we now house approximately 100 suits, with double sizing on popular tuxedos and even go up to a XXXL. We also stock shirts, ties, bow-ties, pocket squares, lapel pins, cufflinks and more. All this with an added personalised styling experience to help our gent be able to know how to pair their suits up. Most guys come in needing to be styled and guided and that’s exactly what we offer one-on-one!
Q: How do you select new suits and what’s on trend and what makes it into the store?
Noal and I keep very updated with upcoming trends and what’s in fashion. We select suits that we know will last the test of seasons and that will always looks trendy anywhere and anytime. For example we know off-white/ beige tones were going to make a big splash for the Spring season, so we started scouring various designers and lookbooks to ensure we got in the perfect beige suit. It takes a lot of discussion and editing on our part and going back and forth between the designers, agents and us till we finally decide on what makes the floor. We also get a lot of inspirations from social media and what celebrities are wearing or high-profile models/ bloggers – the list goes on!
Q: How does it feel to be a business owner and entrepreneur?
Entrepreneur…I’ve always liked that title! haha
I would say that it’s the most rewarding thing you can do! There’s no better feeling than working hard on an idea that you once had, and putting in countless hours, blood, sweat and tears and watch it all unfold! Also to know that in the end, you’re working for yourself and no one else!
However, it’s not for everyone. People love the glamour associated with having their own business or brand, but not many are willing to put up with the challenges and demands it comes with. You will see that even though I am photographed at events, and do the media and marketing side of Mr. Fierze, I am also the one running around dropping off the dry cleaning and alterations as well as deliveries to clients. You have to do it all yourself when you’re starting off, and it really takes up a lot of time. There are times the work load is too much you’ll question yourself as to why you’re doing it in the first place. That’s when your inner circle of people is so important to remind you of your original vision. In that sense I’m very lucky because I have a business partner who is also a best friend that can slap me back into place when I’m losing sight of my direction (not literally) and also a good circle of family and friends who believe in my vision.
I’ve learnt so much in just this 1 year alone, and I’m excited to grow even more in the future.
Q: Who are your business inspirations?
I’ve had many inspirations going up and in various sectors, but when it comes to business I’ve learnt a lot from my dad who manages businesses of his own. from a young age my mom and dad have always been hard workers managing high intensive jobs and also being a good parent and making sure we were always close. I think this really was the starting point of me observing and learning hard work, multi-tasking skills and more.
I’ve also learnt a lot over the years from watching business owners talk about their businesses on shows, podcasts and more. Funnily enough I’ve been really inspired by Oprah Winfrey, Beyonce and The Kardashians on how they actually manage their business behind all the glamour. I love listening to podcasts and interviews with entrepreneurs! This allows you to constantly be surrounded by like-minded people, and it in turn re-invigorates you in your vision.
I’m also continually looking at Business masterclasses and seminars to attend as you can never stop learning as an entrepreneur.
Q: What would you tell young aspiring business owners today?
There are a number of things I’ve learnt that I’d share –
Firstly, have a very clear vision from the start, and a detailed business plan that you hold on to it like a mantra. When the going gets tough, you’re going to constantly need to remind yourself of the original plan, why you started and where you’re heading.
Be prepared to put in the hard yards and really get into understanding every process of your business even if it’s not your arena. I hated accounting but I look at the business accounts myself now, and make entries myself because I like to know how we are trekking every month.
Also, don’t do it for the sake of money, it’s not the number 1 focus. Do it because you’re really passionate about something and the money will follow. If money is the main goal, then you will not succeed when the hard yards come through! On that same token, remember that you are trying to run a business and nothing should cost you in light of doing freebies and trying to make people happy. You will get a lot of requests for freebies and more, but in the end you are here to run a business and make money. On that note also remember to have a strong back end and be vigilant with financials and how you’re spending vs income etc.
And when you’re struggling financially, emotionally or with rejections – remember that every successful person has been rejected before, but they never stopped learning, refining and moving forward from that particular experience.
Also, be strong willed and have a positive mindset, as you will get a lot of negative comments and hate from all around you! Let it all pass as you know what you’re doing and you’re actually more skilled than you know. Let all the hate pass, and let it be a fuel to make you work harder to prove people wrong.
Personally, I find it easier for me to deal with such things as I have a strong faith in God and I never worry about things that are out of my control. I leave everything else that I can’t control up to God in faith!
Q: What’s next for Mr. Fierze?
Oh watch this space!
Ideally we would like to open our showroom next year, but in the meantime keep a look out for new arrivals each season on our homepage!