What's your business, and who are your customers?
Livelihood helps nature lovers in the city look and feel good by making sustainable clothing and goods using only natural, recycled, and eco-friendly materials and investing 25% of profits in planting trees and building parks in American cities.
Tell us about yourself.
I was raised in the piney woods of Houston. Throughout my childhood, I saw how our forests were paved for profits without caring about the environmental or societal impacts they could have. In 2017, we flooded for the first time during Hurricane Harvey. The forested lands that once soaked in the water and protected our livelihoods were gone and replaced by impervious surfaces. I realized pretty soon that nature is the solution to many of the issues we face today, and if our cities were a little bit more natural, the quality of life in our cities would significantly increase. This beautiful vision of a world where the city and nature coexist as one is what motivates me to do what I do every day.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment as a business owner is creating a profitable business model that has helped plant over 6,600 trees in American cities in just two years. That is roughly 130 acres reforested to help improve the quality of life in urban areas. We hope to continue planting many more trees as we continue to grow.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
The hardest thing about being a business owner is marketing. Although our model is unique, we compete in a heavily saturated apparel industry. There are thousands of clothing brands worldwide, and getting a person to notice you and choose to shop from your brand over an established and recognized brand is very difficult, even with a fantastic mission. In addition, standing out is more difficult when one, your marketing budget is tiny, and, two, when others have the marketing budget to silence you.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
As a small business owner, I know first hand how tough it is to compete with limited resources. In my case, I started Livelihood with less than five thousand dollars. Here are my three tips:
- Put your efforts into creating a product you love that is of the highest quality. This is how I've approached competing. If I cannot outspend them, I can outwork them with premium fabrics, customer service, attention to detail, and creating a story that not many others can tell; in our case, we use premium cotton sourced from Texas to support cotton farmers in the state we are headquartered in.
- Create a community. We have our tree planting events where our customers live so they can come volunteer. This allows us to connect personally with our customers and have them complete their journey from when they purchased from our store to when they see the impact their purchase has made in their community.
- Most importantly, never forget your "why." Being an entrepreneur is tough and there will be hard times. Constantly remind yourself of your "why", because it is what will get you through those times.
Where can people find you and your business?
Interview performed by Team Subkit