Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneurs are Shane Vitaly and Jason Readman, the duo behind Toronto-based unisex contemporary lifestyle brand Vitaly. We caught up with the pair to find out what inspires their work and how they would define success….
Describe what you do in less than 140 characters. Go.
We’re the founders of Vitaly, a lifestyle brand producing unisex jewelry, watches and men’s contemporary clothing.
What was the inspiration for your career route?
Shane was inspired by silversmiths and carvers while on a backpacking trip through SE Asia about five years ago. Having no plans to start a brand, but a simple goal to make himself a two-finger ring he’d wear, he designed and sourced a manufacturer for his first piece – the rest is history.
What is the most memorable milestone in your career so far?
We’ll never forget the day we found out we landed our first investor. We hate to get too personal or business-y, but the fact is that we had very little money to get things rolling and when we knew it was what we wanted to do, we risked everything by quitting our jobs to develop a business plan with the goal to get funded.
We had enough money to survive for three months and needed investors to propel the concept forward. By the time the first investor came on board, we had enough money to live for another three days and there was absolutely no chance of making next month’s rent. His investment would have only spared us for another few weeks, but it was the catalyst for the interested investors to move forward. There have been a lot of stressful moments in our lives, but nothing compares to those four months.
When that first investor came on board, we can say without a doubt there has never been a greater weight lifted (thanks, Jim).
Where do you see yourself in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years?
We’re just trying to make sure we live to see tomorrow!
5 years: Setting up offices and flagships in countries around the world.
10 years: Guiding young entrepreneurs on how to launch their own projects.
20 years: Opening stores on Mars and competing in zero-gravity.
Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
We won’t take credit for this, but we saw this motivational speech (we believe by Mohammad Ali) where he explains that you should always “know your why.” We don’t think anything says it better. It’s all that should be going through someone’s head when they decide to start climbing the career/entrepreneurial mountain.
Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is it (or they) important to you?
We recently started working with A Day in My Shoes. It is a brand new charity focused on creating once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for terminally ill young adults – a category of individuals often overlooked within the charitable sector. Our friend Alex Vincenzi started the charity and his compassionate story for how it came about was enough to shatter even the iciest individual. I don’t even think we had a choice; it was just the right thing to do.
What is one major challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your career? How did you overcome it?
Letting go of control was definitely a challenge. Over the last couple of years our team has grown rapidly, but it was the first few hires that proved the most challenging. It’s scary to hand over responsibilities that could hurt your baby, even if in the smallest way.
What does the word notable mean to you?
Someone who has earned and maintains the respect of others by doing something standout.
Where is your favourite place to wine/ dine in your city and why?
Frankies Diner. We get the chicken souvlaki dinner there about once a week – we’re not going to tell you we’re fancy folk over here at Vitaly. We’ll eat at Canoe if you’re paying though 😉
What’s the most visited website on your Internet browser? The most played song on your phone?
www.tdcanadatrust.com to ensure we haven’t fallen off the dangerous line we tend to walk. We listen to a lot of jazz and trance (I know, right?) at the office these days, but picking a song might be impossible.
Who’s one person you think everyone should be following on social media?
@PashaTheBoss. He’s a freestyle runner/parkour professional we admire not only for his incredible athleticism, but also his incredibly creative use of architecture to push the limits of his craft.
What’s your favourite country to visit and why? And what’s the next one you plan on travelling to?
Bali is practically our second home. It can be hectic in some areas but when you know it the way we do, you’ll find it can be tranquil, inspiring, and the perfect place for a workation. And if you want to party like a maniac, that’s there too.
Outside of work-related business trips, the next country we’ll be hitting up will be Nicaragua to visit the good folks at Maderas Village.
What gives you the greatest FOMO?
People who can take a vacation or time off work and actually shut off. It’s hard to escape the feeling there is something wrong with us because ‘work’ never leaves our minds. That inability to shut off is probably both a blessing and a curse, though. We don’t lose sleep over it because this path has opened up a million doors that we’ll never have FOMO over.
What’s your guiltiest pleasure
Food… always food. But not really. We love food. Love’s an understatement.
What’s something you wish you didn’t spend so much money on? What’s something you wish you spent more on?
Parking. We wish we spent more money on Mexican food.
And finally, what does success look like to you? Work, play, or otherwise…
Eating at a restaurant (probably a sweet taco joint) and not looking at the prices on the menu.
For us, success was the moment we stopped waking up wondering if it would be the day the company imploded, and started waking up excited about the day would bring and what new opportunities would be put in front of us.