Launched in 2017, Cow Hide Co. specialises in designer, natural and exotic hides, either designed using an acid-wash and foil-, stamp- or dyed technique. Alternatively, a print is directly printed onto the hide.
To extend the brand offering, founder and designer Jordyn Pollock recently introduced a sister brand called &SEEK which produces luxury genuine leather accessories with printed, metallic and acid-washed hair on hide detailing for a cheeky flair – a first of its kind in South Africa.
Jordyn’s bold journey in the creative industry started from a fashion line for her childhood Barbie dolls to a collection of home and fashion essentials that emerged traditional hide and exciting design.
1. What do you wish you had known before you started your business?
I don’t feel like there is anything I wish I had known because I’ve learned as I moved along. If there was something I didn’t know or was unsure of, I studied, asked around and researched until I was clued up.
I initially thought I didn’t have enough “business knowledge” so I enrolled in a GetSmarter course through UCT in Business Management which helped a lot, but at the end of the day the best place to learn is from action, others and your own mistakes and failures.
2. Given hindsight regarding your start-up journey which areas of the business or launch preparation would you spend more time, energy or resources on and why?
Over the last couple of years of starting and owning various ventures I think what I have now learned to focus more on is timing and brand management.
In the past, I didn’t spend enough time on researching my target market and the actual voice of my brand. Bit by bit, they each garnered their own voices, but I would have wanted to establish the voice from the beginning and being certain about who the brand was and who it was marketed towards.
Obviously, the brand will change over time, but starting a brand that is unsure of itself or who the market is will make your life that much harder and add a whole new set of pressures playing catch-up.
3. What have your three most valuable learnings been from mistakes made during the planning and launch phases?
Research was definitely the most valuable tool I think I underestimated. Really understanding your market is such an important, if not the most important, aspect of a business of this nature.
For &Seek I am finding a constant need to be designing new collections, with new voices, interests and inspirations. Each of which require thorough research into who, what, where and most importantly, why.
Timing is everything. Slow down, take each step carefully and purposefully (things I did not do). With a previous clothing label, I had fresh out of college, I completely jumped the gun with most aspects of the business planning.
I was so ecstatic to get to the “land and run” part that I completely forgot about the “plan and aim section”, including all the vital bits in between almost working backwards. You can only imagine how that turned out.
My mentor has told me often not to sweat the small stuff. By sweating the small things, you aren’t able to focus on the bigger picture.
4. Knowing what you know now – what would your best practical advice be to new entrepreneurs?
Don’t try to do every job in the business. A huge lesson I learned was to slow down and stop trying to be the accountant, social media manager, designer, manufacturer, logistics, etc.
I always thought that I wouldn’t have a choice in the matter and that I would need to be the best at each category in order to succeed and I learned that is not the case at all.
In the beginning, sure you’re going to find yourself being spread over various categories, but there comes a point where your brand will get too big for you to handle every aspect alone and the cracks will start to show.
You will realise there are many people out their more than qualified to do what you are attempting to do with very little knowledge in that field.
Your business is your baby and it will be difficult to trust another person with it, but in order to succeed you will need to share the workload.
Don’t be so hard on yourself when things don’t work out, and when they do, celebrate every tiny milestone to remind yourself how far you have come. It’s so easy for us to focus on the negative when that’s all we seem to think is happening. But focusing on every successful step is a great tool in keeping your belief strong.
5. What lessons have had the greatest impact on your start-up journey?
Honestly, realising how important your mental strength and self-belief needs to be. Becoming an entrepreneur is not for everyone and that’s okay! It is tough. When you think about how tough it might be, just know it’s even tougher than that.
But, if you constantly take time to check in with yourself, do things that keep you inspired and motivated and believing in what you set out to do I don’t think you could ever lose. But that is your job alone, nobody else is going to be as excited about your venture as you and nobody else is going to keep you motivated.
Learning from every experience is so important and to not take things personally when they go south is a skill that some people have or don’t have, but if you’re willing to learn how to overcome that (what I had to do) then you are always winning.
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For further information about the brand follow Cow Hide Co. and &Seek on their social media channels: Instagram | @cowhideco_sa; @andseekoriginals Facebook | @Cowhideco.; @AndSeek