Ok guys, this one is especially for you! I recently had the opportunity to conduct an interview with the founder of TUKZ - Darnell Jones. TUKZ is a special style of underwear that keeps you looking sharp all day long. The underwear is equipped with four elastic straps and clips to neatly secure tucked shirts for a crisp, professional appearance. How ingenious is that? You can check them out and pick up a pair online here.
Well, this entrepreneur took some time out of his busy schedule to share his experiences and his journey. He shows that great ideas and a keen business sense can take you far. Yet, he really has some sound advice about being passionate about what you do. He also proves that hard working single mothers really do breed hard working young people! So, don't let your circumstances ever dictate your future. Read on after the jump for the full interview!
1. Can you tell me a bit about yourself and how you got your start?
I was born in Salt Lake City, UT and raised by a single mother who worked several jobs to make sure my brothers and I had all of the things we needed and wanted. She taught me by example that hard work was something you had to do to separate yourself from the rest of the pack and so whether it was in my athletic career or in my work environment I’ve always tried to outwork my opposition and/or coworkers. Growing up my mother and grandmother worked in the retail clothing industry, which is probably what led to my passion for fashion.
2. What led you to start your own business and has your past experience helped with this endeavor?
I’ve always been a deep thinker and I’ve always been intrigued by business and entrepreneurship. Growing up I would sell pencils and erasers in grade school. I would also sell baseball cards and pretty much all of my old used toys to make money. So my past business experiences date back to grade school, when I figured out that if I bought something for $1.00 I would have to sell it for $2.00 to make a worthwhile profit.
TUKZ Underwear were created as an idea to fix a problem that I had, not for an actual business. After realizing how good of a product the prototype was I decided to turn it in to a business to help other people enhance their appearance and solve the hassle of continually tucking in their shirts.
3. How did you discover your passion and can you give tips to young people trying to find theirs?
I think discovering your passion is the easy part. Most people can tell you what their passion is but turning that into a business is where it gets a little challenging. I have a few passions. One is fashion and the other athletics. My advice to young people would be find your passion -- That thing you love and can’t live without, Find a mentor who you trust and who wiser than yourself, If you can find a mentor in your field of work or business, that would be ideal, Think about how you can offer your service or product to others and, with your mentor’s guidance, formulate a plan. The last and most important piece of advice would be when the going gets tough go harder. Everyone gets the same 24 hours in a day. What are you going to do with yours?
4. What is the best part about your job?
The best part about being an entrepreneur for me is being able to create a company that helps someone or solves a problem, and knowing that success is just around the corner. It all rests on your shoulders and what you do with your 24-hour day.
5. What is the most difficult part about being an entrepreneur?
The most difficult part about being an entrepreneur is probably turning the idea into a viable business that’s profitable. As a startup you have to have a broad knowledge of many different business functions because it’s too expensive to pay several different people or consultants.
6. What does a day at the office look like for you?
Initially the days were pretty hectic. I would wake up around 6:30 am and start my email and phone blast to potential retail outlets, get all of the orders packed and shipped, answer phone and email questions, and continue to prep for the next day until late in to the night. It was an around-the-clock job, unlike a 9-to-5
7. What was the process like starting your business and how did you learn the ins and outs of running a business?
The process was longer than I initially thought it would be, however, I think it is very important to have mentors. All in all, I think starting a business is a great learning experience. I learned from my mentors and by making mistakes.
8. Can you highlight a bit about your brand and who the customer is that you create for?
TUKZ Underwear are specialty underwear used to keep your shirt tucked in. These underwear are for anyone wanting to improve their appearance by keeping their shirts nice and neatly tucked in, so whether you’re 17 and riding a skateboard or 70 and running a Fortune 500 company, TUKZ Underwear are a product you should own. We don’t want to replace all of your current underwear, we just think everyone should own a couple pair.
9. What is your creative process like when it comes to creating your product?
I’m always thinking about how I can improve it; it’s a continual thing. I hear people say they do their best thinking while on the lake or driving, but I feel like my creative juices flow at different times.
10. What advice do you have for budding entrepreneurs out there?
Don’t start a business to just own a business or to work for yourself; make sure you enjoy it or you will end up being miserable. When you do start your business and things get tough, push through and work harder. Don’t give up. Everyone gets the same 24 hours in a day, make the most out of your 24 hours.