Founder Advice on Starting a Brand

Starting an e-commerce business is one of the most exciting experiences an entrepreneur can go through. However, finding the right path to success can be difficult, especially in the early stages of growth. With so many voices online telling you how to run your company, it’s helpful to cut through the noise and get straight to the signal. Here are some key insights from the founders we’ve worked with who found success online. 



Cate Holstein, founder of the breakout New York fashion brand Khaite, understands the financial realities of the modern brand ecosystem. 

Understand how capital intensive this business is. While social media has created opportunity for many designers and leveled the playing field, a small brand is competing for the same amount of mindspace as huge brands under multi billion dollar conglomerates. Today, a thriving brand needs 5x more capital than a brand 10 years ago.

An understanding of the media market will be crucial if you’re starting an apparel company, especially with so many digitally-native vertical brands in this space. Cate understood the necessity for elegant, high-quality clothing, and let the market speak for itself. Read about Cate’s founder journey here.


Chris Markham, founder of Blue Tees Golf, has simple yet effective advice on who you surround yourself with in the early days. 

Build a team of people that are smarter than you with different yet complementary skills and then get out of their way.

Taking a cue from the Steve Jobs playbook, Chris understood that building his team for Blue Tees means trusting your team to do the job you hired them for, and giving them breathing room to perform at their best. Read about Chris’ founder journey here.

Market Fit

Allison Moss, founder of Type:A Brands, built a respected health and wellness brand, generating a lot of buzz in a hyper-competitive industry. Her advice to founders: find the space where the opportunity isn’t being fulfilled by the major players in the market.

In the deodorant category, consumers have been seeking aluminum-free deodorants for decades. But at the same time, consumers expect long-lasting odor protection and are disappointed when they find current offerings don’t deliver. The gap between demand and performance is where Type:A comes in to fill the void.

Type:A Brands came out swinging in a niche category, and due to their growth has extended into other personal care products. If you’re building a wellness brand, it’s helpful to focus on where customer needs aren’t being met in the market, and using that framing to set your product strategy. Read about Allison’s founder journey here

Brand Ethos

Tim Morse, co-founder of Richer Poorer, gives advice on sticking to your brand’s vision, and never swaying.

Make sure to go through the process of understanding what your brand stands for and why you do what you do. As I look back to our original brand ethos from 2010 it was to deliver well-designed, high-quality products at an attainable price point. Although our product line has evolved quite a bit from the days of simply selling socks, we’ve always maintained an unwavering approach to the original ethos. 

Strong brands evolve with time, and pivoting to a different product or wider market can be key to growing your brand, and customer base. Read about Tim’s founder journey here.  

Balancing Vision and Speed

Jake Miller, founder of Fellow Products, has lots of honest advice for startup founders: it’s a marathon, not a sprint, so don’t sacrifice your vision for speed of execution. 

First-time founders need to understand that brands take a long time to build. Don’t sacrifice your vision for speed! During our pursuit of acceleration, we never lost focus on our original customer, a specialty coffee lover, and the insights that made that first product so appealing.

Passionate founders want to move and build quickly, but Jake understands the value of patience in the startup journey. Always keeping the customer in mind is key to building a great product. All your hard work to find that initial product-market fit will be worth it once your sales start taking off. Read about Jake’s founder journey here.

If you’re building an ecommerce brand—whether it’s apparel, personal care, or sports equipment—there are many ways to take advantage of growth opportunities in the early stages of your company. One of the quickest ways to secure some liquidity is by leveraging your current inventory for an inventory-based loan. Assembled Brands is here to help – get in touch today and see how we can support your growth, and help you realize your brand vision!

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