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The Falls Apparel
Age is no barrier for Lucas
While his friends were doing their homework, Lucas Cook was starting his own business.
Lucas was in Year 8 when he combined his schoolwork and basketball with creating The Falls Apparel, which sells locally designed street wear.
“When I created my first T-shirt, I saw potential for this to become a business,” Lucas says.
“Originally I started with T-shirts and then once that generated enough profit I was able to branch out towards many more products. Most importantly, this has become my passion in life.”
The Falls Apparel sells a range of garments including headwear, long sleeves, tees, tall tees, singlets (tank tops), shorts, hoodies and windbreakers.
Lucas designs the clothes and all but the customised T-shirts are made in Melbourne. Customers can order them on his website and find him on Facebook and Instagram.
“I try to differentiate the products from other brands in the street wear scene, and sell quality products at an affordable price,” Lucas says. “The customer service we provide is like no other, I would usually respond within the hour.
“Another major key with us is creating a connection with our customers. We believe if you’re engaging with your customers and make sure they are satisfied with every product they buy they will be a life-long returning customers.”
Now 16 and in Year 10, Lucas is extremely focused but as an inexperienced sole trader thought he would benefit from the insight of a business mentor.
“With the opportunity to connect with a mentor, I am able to earn from their past experiences to avoid making their same mistakes and pick their brains for great advice,” he says. “This is going to add another edge to your business.”
After discovering SBMS on the Maroondah Council website, Lucas was matched with mentor Erik Rubens, an international trade and travel expert.
Erik has started businesses that were later sold and still owns an independent retail travel business. He also provides bookkeeping and financial management services and helps Not-for-Profit organisations.
SBMS is a non-government, non-profit organisation of volunteer expert mentors who give their time and experience to help small business. It is supported by Small Business Victoria, which refers clients to it.
Lucas has had several mentoring sessions, including one so far with Erik funded by Maroondah City Council through its Small Business Clinic.
Erik helped him to recognise what he was doing right and what he could improve. He suggested Lucas focus on time management, go to sleep earlier and wake up earlier.
“Lucas, understandably, misses the business fundamentals and managing his movements so far he has focused on creating, ordering and selling his products,” Erik says.
“I showed him what to look for, compare and draw conclusions on his achievements to date and understand how to read into the performance statistics.”
Erik says Lucas is now more conscious of his business results and focused on expansion. He has an improved understanding of running his business and is determined to grow while focusing on time management and balancing his work and social life.
“Lucas has a very clear mind, is cost conscious and identifies his target market,” Erik says. “He operates from home, turned his bedroom in a warehouse and with the assistance of his father executes the orders and his father drives him and delivers them to the post office.”
Lucas hopes to grow his business and maybe employ someone to help him with time-consuming tasks such as postage. He is glad he sought a mentor and says the process was really easy. “It has made me think of several other aspects and assess my progress,” he says.
Eventually Lucas hopes to be a full-time businessperson. For now, he is happy to work as much as he can while completing his high school studies.
“I enjoy what I do and feel that many business people get too caught up in the money and don’t focus on what they love and what they're passionate about,” he says.
“Starting up a business is looked upon as age restricted. I believe anyone of any age is capable of starting up a business, all it takes is an idea, execution and perseverance. My suggestion for anyone with an idea is to go out, try it and give it your all.”
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