Coolibar President and Founder, John Barrow, was honored to be selected as a finalist for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award and was surprised when his name was called as the winner of the consumer products category.
John thanked the judges for recognizing him among such an esteemed group who are making tremendous changes to improve our world and acknowledged the work and dedication of his team at Coolibar. John said, “I would like to say thank you to the people at Coolibar. In truth they are actually a lot more talented than I am. The success of Coolibar, is really your success, and I will forever be in your debt for that.”
Hard work, dedication and collaboration were common themes throughout the evening as Midwest entrepreneurs accepted their awards. We had a chance to catch up with Mr. Barrow, seeking advice for young entrepreneurs.
1) How hard is it for young entrepreneurs to make their mark in the fashion industry?
I would say it is probably easier than some industries and harder than others. On the one hand, there are not large barriers to getting into the business in terms of capital or intellectual property. On the other hand, obtaining access to distribution channels, or building your own, can be a challenge. On the positive side again, it’s a very large, global industry but on the other hand it’s quite price competitive. So, I don’t think it’s easy but I certainly think it is possible for talented and hard working individuals to make their mark.
2) Normally, what challenges make young entrepreneurs give up?
The biggest issue is probably being able to generate sales of their products. Another one is obtaining adequate financing for their business. And finally, I think that the opposite side of the coin of being young is that young entrepreneurs typically don’t have extensive experience or management skills that would help them be more successful in building a business.
3) What is the eligibility criterion or qualification required to make it big in apparel and fashion industry for young entrepreneurs?
I would say the qualifications are parallels to those challenges I mentioned above. I think young entrepreneurs need a strong vision of their product, they need a lot of energy to work long hours, they need selling/communication skills and enthusiasm to convince people of the attraction/benefit of their product/company, and they need some resilience in their personality to accept some setbacks but still bounce back and follow their vision.
Read the full press release for Mr. Barrow’s award. Watch Mr. Barrow’s acceptance speech below.