For entrepreneurs who want to venture out on their own, success can be as simple as having an idea and the willingness to sacrifice. At least that was the case for Sadie Beaudet, 33, and Jeremy Roberts, 35.
The concept was straightforward: Clothing for women made from fabrics for men. “I like the way women’s clothing fit, but I liked the patterns and prints of menswear,” Beaudet said.
That was the beginning of Tradlands, the couple’s menswear-inspired clothing company.
In 2011, the pair quit their desk jobs in San Francisco. Beaudet had been working as an office manager, Roberts as a photo retoucher. Both were eager for a change. “We wanted to think of something we could love and do together and we decided to start a business,” Beaudet said.
But Beaudet and Roberts only had $10,000 to start. “We knew we had to bootstrap it, which meant we had to cut all expenses,” Roberts said.
The pair, then engaged, sold a lot of their possessions, including their car, so they could move to Maine to live largely rent free with Beaudet’s brother.
They started with a website selling a simple button-up shirt in a few fabrics and colors. In that first year, they made $40,000 in revenue, Beaudet said. Looking back, “it felt very touch-and-go, but we were really committed to trying to make this thing work,” she added.
The same could be said for their relationship: In 2014, they tied the knot in a small ceremony at Beaudet’s parents’ house (she wore a J. Crew shift dress off the sale rack.) From there, the future started to look brighter.
A loyal customer base followed and the business grew 100 percent to 150 percent year-over-year, Beaudet said. Eventually they moved back to California and now operate Tradlands, which is almost exclusively online, from home (or wherever they chose.)
Although the line has expanded to include t-shirts, tunics and soon-to-be-introduced pants, “our bread and butter is our button-up shirts,” Beaudet said. She predicts the business will do $800,000 in sales by the end of the year.
They have since bought a car and hired a few full-time staffers to help with the brand — two milestones not lost on the couple who so recently had nothing.
And according to Beaudet and Roberts, that in itself was the key to their success.
“Having no backup plan gave us the fire to make it work,” Beaudet said.
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— Video by Sophie Bearman, Qin Chen and Kyle Walsh