Hiscox Courageous Entrepreneur Interview Series
This is part eight of the ten part series. Follow the Hiscox Courageous Entrepreneur interview series on Under30CEO.com.
Interview Series Sponsored by Hiscox Small Business Insurance. Hiscox specializes in protecting IT/technology, marketing, consulting, health and beauty, photography and many other professional services businesses, tailoring coverage to the specific risks in your industry.
“My dreams drive me. I’m from a place where people have to make their own opportunities. If they can’t find a way, they make a way. I feel like my dreams have driven me to create Nothing Nice New York and other brands.”
Bob Dylan once referred to New York as “a city where you could be frozen to death in the midst of a busy street and nobody would notice.” Nothing Nice New York(NNNY) founder E.K. Hormeku has made the most of his Brooklyn, New York roots as a fashion designer and young entrepreneur.
Nothing Nice doesn’t exactly make you feel warm and fuzzy on the inside. Curious about why someone would brand a line of clothing with this name, I asked E.K. about the reason he chose Nothing Nice. The name stems from his experiences in New York and what people perceive as the harsh and brutal nature of the city. E.K. describes his hometown as “fast paced and edgy,” and a place unlike anywhere else in the world.
E.K.’s Hormeku Group has seven brands in total, including NNNY, which is a bespoke (made to order) menswear brand that designs high-end custom suits. In bespoke jewelry and clothing, delivering on promises and the unique needs and requests of customers is a difficult but necessary aspect of doing business. When it comes to customer service, E.K.’s goal is “to make the customer feel as good as they’ll allow us to make them feel.”
The 28-year-old serial entrepreneur began his entrepreneurial journey in elementary school selling transcribed song lyrics to classmates. His interest in entrepreneurship only grew from that early first experience. “I was the kid that threw the parties before the pop high school party scene was really big in Brooklyn. Before that, I would find ways to do a homework service for some of my classmates and I would even record songs and sell CDs and draw pictures.”
In addition to the wide line of brands in the Hormeku Group portfolio, E.K. is expanding NNNY’s offerings to include school uniforms, athletic wear, ready-to-wear suits, and women’s clothing.
E.K. started his fashion line without any experience in textiles or custom-made apparel. He made a name for NNNY by honing in on what his target market was looking for and by ignoring the opinions and advice of others. His advice to other young entrepreneurs looking to build a brand is to “know your product, know exactly who you’re building it for, and know that you’ll get feedback from people who the product is not for, and you have to make your product say what you want it to say. If not, it’ll fade fast. Always listen to your target market.”
Although his success seems admirable for being under 30, E.K. regrets not beginning his ventures sooner. “I should’ve listened to my heart and started when I felt I needed to start. I should’ve started earlier.” He says that due to listening to the wrong people, he waited to begin Nothing Nice New York.
E.K.’s best piece of advice for young entrepreneurs is to not give up. “Keep going, keep going, keep going. You’re going to meet roadblocks, you’re going to have hurdles and so many challenges. There are going to be very, very bad days and very, very good days…just keep going.” Giving up is easy, but persevering in a tough city and a tough industry takes courage, grit, and the ability to never give up on your dreams.
Don’t be like a fashion fad and fade away, listen to the full audio with E.K. Hormeku below!
Additional Interview Highlights
– Do you consider entrepreneurs to be courageous? “Courageous might be an understatement. You have something that everyone tells you isn’t going to make it…There are a lot of naysayers and fake support. It takes some heart to do this and stick with it. To build it is one thing, but to protect it takes even more courage.”
– What sets you apart from competitors? “The service and the attitude of Nothing Nice New York.”
– Is insurance an important part of your business? “Yes, it’s very important. Anything can happen. Anything that can go wrong will go wrong. Make sure that everything is insured.”
– “If the idea is from your heart, you’ll find a way to make it work.”
– Advice to entrepreneurs looking to enter the world of fashion: “Don’t believe the hype. People say the fashion world is mean, shady, classless and shallow. The fashion business is a business. Make sure you have your business right and know that there are certain things people will tell you that you need — that you really don’t.”
Listen to the full interview here: