Just one year on from setting up his Student Enterprise, 17 year old Aaron Leonard has sure come a long way in just one year. Read his story from student to entrepreneur below …
THE FUTURE OF SUSTAINABLE CLOTHING
Hi, my name is Aaron Leonard. I’m a 17-year-old student from Wexford. I began my entrepreneurial journey with the Student Enterprise Programme (SEP) last year. As a result of taking part, I have built a very successful sustainable business!
Back last November I launched my eco-friendly business called GoECO. It all started with dropshipping compostable phone cases under the name GoECO which was on the Late Late Show briefly last year. Dropshipping is when a customer places an order on your website and another company packages and ships the product directly to the customer and all you ever see is the profit! In hindsight this process seemed great, but quickly problems began to arise. Customers were complaining of delayed shipping times of 3-4 weeks. Quality problems with the design prints on the back of the cases which I had to replace out of my profits! This lead to another problem we were only making 20% on a 30EUR product, with these problems I knew I needed a drastic change or the business would fizzle out! Then in January, with profits that we built up I began to stock phone cases in my bedroom.
We were in the height of lockdown and I, unfortunately, got Covid!!! I remember creating the website in bed at 3 am in quarantine. I started then making TikTok videos, with many going viral, and the orders began to flow in. I quickly ran out of space in my bedroom and took over the whole house at the same time expanding our product range into bamboo fibre lunch boxes and travel cups.
In March 2021 I decided to get into Organic clothing that is fair trade as we don’t agree with the exploitation of workers. All our clothing is made on a wind farm. From there I decided to change the business name to OCEANERA which means “The time of the Ocean” which we are living in now with all the plastic pollution and the climate crisis. At Oceanera we are devoted to reducing the plastic waste that ends up in our oceans. That’s why we now have a range of organic clothing, plastic-free products and all our packaging, is plastic free and compostable. In June we moved into our 1st office which in my spare time I renovated myself with the help of my Dad, I would work all day on the business and at night paint walls and sweep the floors!!!
Now back at school, it’s my first time ever running the business as well as trying to manage 5th year. It isn’t easy, having a schedule and sticking to it really makes the difference! On October 1st we launched our new clothing collection with many custom club deals happening. In the past few months, the business/brand really took off with over 16,500 followers on TikTok.
My message to upcoming SEP participants.:
From day one it’s important to build the business around something you are truly passionate about, because that is what will get you through the tough days, when sales are slow or when everything seems to go wrong. I personally never liked the term ‘mini’ business it already puts an expectation as if it’s not going to be anything big. I always, from day one, thought about my business as a long term project that will hopefully turn into my future career! One thing about my generation is we are not afraid to say what’s wrong with the way things are done and you have all the ability in the world to create something truly remarkable!
More info on this exciting new Irish company is available at oceanera.ie