Tell me a little bit about yourself and your passions?
My name is Brandon Etheridge and I am an 18 year old freshman at the University of South Carolina. I was born in a suburb of Chicago and moved to North Carolina when I was in the 4th grade. I am an undeclared business major, hoping to be accepted into the international business school here at the Darla Moore School of Business, with a minor in French. I am a member of the Chi Psi fraternity. My passions include working out, SEC football, and the Carolina beaches.
Can you discuss the circumstances that led to your career and some challenges you have overcome?
I was a bow tie enthusiast in high school but it got to a point where I would wear the same bow tie over and over again, losing its unique appeal. Additionally, bow ties can be expensive but having several was just not an option for me, financially. Bow ties are a statement and meant to be noticed. I then thought of a way I could alleviate the problems of versatility and cost of traditional bow ties; make them in halves and interchange them. This idea allows the consumer to grow his bow tie wardrobe exponentially while keeping his look fresh in a cost-effective manner.
Some of the challenges I have overcome thus far have been securing manufacturing and getting my patent approval. Because the idea of interchangeable bow ties being sold in halves is a new one, several manufacturers were unable to make my product. It took some time but I finally teamed up with a great manufacturer who was able to not only create 100% woven silk fabrics specifically for Deck Head but also handcrafted the bow tie halves. As for the patent, I am very excited to be patent-approved on the idea of bow tie halves. It was a long road to get here, one that started while I was still in high school.
What are the best things about being an entrepreneur?
Being an entrepreneur allows for the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. You are constantly pushing your own boundaries and taking calculated risks. It’s very exhilarating. I would say, however, the best thing about being an entrepreneur is the ability to create my own future.
What mistakes have you made?
Mistakes are an integral part of the entrepreneurial process. The biggest mistake I have made is believing that launching a business can be a quick process. I wanted to attack the market with my brand at 100 MPH; however, I always had to catch myself because I was trying to do something I was not ready for. I have learned that patience is truly a virtue.
In your opinion what is the most important thing that an entrepreneur should focus on?
I believe the most important thing an entrepreneur should focus on is building and truly being in touch with your customer base. In order to do this, you have to be honest, genuine, and in this for the right reasons. As a wise man named Mark Etheridge (my dad) once told me, “people buy from people they like and are comfortable with.” I try to be that person for every one of my customers.
What advice would you give the youth out there looking to blaze their own path?
The advice I would give to anyone who is young and trying to “blaze their own path” would be that there are always going to be a million reasons not to do something, but if you have an idea that you believe in, go for it. The worst-case scenario is it fails, and you learn a lot more about the real world of business than anything a book or a classroom could have taught you. Of course, school is extremely important but real world experience is priceless. Something I have always liked to keep in mind is that there is always a next big thing, and your idea could be just that.
Now at UYD, we are always looking to find out different ways people use their difference to make a difference. How do you use your difference to make a difference?
I have just recently launched my company. I very much look forward to partnering with a charity in the very near future. I am interested in supporting efforts such as the Wounded Warrior Project among others.
Where can we find out more about you and what you’re up to?