Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneurs are brothers Alex and Ben Cole, originally of Vancouver, whose vision to open a tailoring shop in Bangkok has catapulted them to success in Thailand’s sartorial world after a gripping journey full of ambition and struggle…
1. Describe what you do in less than 140 characters. Go.
Alex & Ben: We create beautiful bespoke suits and shirts, from our store in Bangkok and through our online store.
2. What was the inspiration for your career route?
Alex: I saw an opportunity and took it. Low-grade suits were being produced in Thailand, the reputation wasn’t good, but all the factors were here in terms of material and expertise. So we just put it together to create a fantastic product, and delivered with great service. No one had done it right before!
3. What is the most memorable milestone in your career so far?
Ben: When our first return customer came in a few years ago. It was such a validation of the business. Now, we have regular clients from all around the world who even fly in just to see us, and it’s still extremely satisfying building long-term relationships with clients.
4. Where do you see yourself in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years?
Ben: In five years we’d like more shops, in 10 conquer the world, and in 20 be happily retired.
Alex: We’d love to open in Vancouver and Toronto, but we already have a great online store. Drop us an email and we’ll set it up for you, as it’s invite only at the moment. But in 20 years we’re expecting the whole world to be shopping via our site!
5. Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Alex: Get it done. You can sit and procrastinate, plan and worry about problems, or you can just go and do it and solve issues as they come up.
Ben: Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Don’t look for perfection – you can improve later.
6. Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is it (or they) important to you?
Alex: As young entrepreneurs most of our money goes right back into the business, but we still support some local charities, like Camillian Home, mainly working with underprivileged children. Supporting charities is a great way to do something good while getting some publicity, so it’s a win-win.
7. What is one major challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your career? How did you overcome it?
Ben: Bangkok’s tailoring world didn’t make it easy for us. We were outsiders from the beginning and there was no desire for innovation in the market, which was saturated with bad practice. But that meant there was space for our business to do things differently.
8. What does the word notable mean to you?
Ben: Notable to me is something remarkable, something that makes you look twice.
1. Where is your favourite place to wine/dine in your city and why?
Ben: Thai food is delicious and and my favourite place is Baan Glom Gig on Soi Ruam Rudi. The space is nice and I like the terrace.
Alex: We actually have a whole section about our favourite Bangkok hangouts on our website, covering everything from sky bars to street food. In fact, the street food on our street is not to be missed. And when you’re here, make sure you come down and have a beer with us at the shop. We always love welcoming fellow Canadians.
2. What’s the most visited website on your Internet browser? The most played song on your phone?
Ben: I read a lot of news and I follow all the major outlets, like BBC. Music-wise, I have been stuck on a few Miguel Migs tracks for a while.
3. Who’s one person you think everyone should be following on social media?
Ben: I like to follow The Sartorialist for great street style and beautiful photography.
Alex: Donald Trump, wink wink. He comes out with some hilarious stuff. No, but seriously, I genuinely look at Notable a lot!
4. What’s your favourite country to visit and why? And what’s the next one you plan on travelling to?
Ben: One of the countries I visited that left a mark was Chile. I loved the food – the steak and wine were incredible – and the outdoors were breathtaking.
Alex: Canada really is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. I enjoy the nature and I appreciate coming back there even more now that I’m not living there full-time. I haven’t explored the East Coast yet, which is next on my list.
5. What gives you the greatest FOMO?
Ben: I am afraid of missing out on life outside of the shop since we put in so much work. Lots of good stuff comes out of it, though, as many clients end up being friends.
6. What’s your guiltiest pleasure?
Ben: Rick Astley.
Alex: I like drinking whisky. It’s a new passion, though, as about six months ago I hated it… but decided I wanted to like whisky. So I forced myself to finish a big bottle over a few months, and now I love it! I’m quite stubborn and always get what I want.
7. What’s something you wish you didn’t spend so much money on? What’s something you wish you spent more on?
Ben: My other guilty pleasure is eating out, and I spend a lot on that…
Alex: I wish I didn’t have to spend so much on software development!
8. And finally, what does success look like to you? Work, play, or otherwise…
Ben: Success for me is having a good life balance, leaning towards play, and slowly I think I’m getting there.
Alex: Pina colada, a Caribbean beach and a notification on my iPhone that the month’s profits from Tailor On Ten have been deposited.