Securing funding can be a game-changer in the business world. Whether you're an entrepreneur at the beginning of your journey or a seasoned business owner looking to take your company to new heights, having access to financial resources can make all the difference. In this blog post, we're thrilled to share the inspiring success story of Alder Apparel.
Alder Apparel, secured funding that helped accelerate its growth, and we're excited to hear from Naomi Blackman and Mikayla Wujec, about their experiences with securing funding and how it can assist you in achieving your business goals. You'll learn about the challenges they faced, the lessons they learned, and the benefits that came from receiving funding they needed to drive the company forward.
What was your initial reaction when learning you were a funding recipient & how did the funds impact your business?
“We were over the moon to find out that we were a funding recipient! It was the first grant we'd received, and it was such a vote of confidence. We called each other and squealed with delight as it was difficult to contain our excitement. The funds were integral to us at the early stage of our business. We put them towards bringing on a marketing coordinator, our very first hire at Alder.”
Have you received funding in the past, and if so, what was your experience like?
“The Founders Fund funding was the first grant we'd received, and we have gone on to receive other grants and investments. Raising funds as female entrepreneurs is extremely difficult. It's often fun to take a step back and have the opportunity to talk about the business and our vision for where things are going, but it's also a stressful process.”
Please share 2-3 major milestones/wins that you and/or your business has had in the past 12 months.
“In the past 12 months, Alder Apparel has achieved some incredible milestones. Last year, we raised our seed funding round of $2M - an incredible feat as only 2% of venture funding goes to all female founding teams. We are also the first direct investment into a brand by REI, one of the most influential outdoor retailers in the US. Their belief in our business and brand is an extremely high vote of confidence. We also opened our first pop up shop in Toronto last summer, marking Alder's first foray into brick and mortar. It was not only a dream come true to see our brand come to life in a store format, but also to connect in real life with our customers and hear about their experiences first hand!”
What do you feel are some of the challenges you've experienced in your business recently?
“There are a lot of challenges that come when running a start up, especially in this changing economic climate. Overall, our point of view has always been that challenges will come up and it's just as important to embrace the lows as it is the highs. It's all part of the journey! When we come up against challenges, it's helpful to remind ourselves how far we've come so that we don't get stuck. Always keep moving forward.”
How and where do you find inspiration?
“True to our belief in the power of outdoor recreation, we get inspired by nature around us and the great outdoors. Whether going on a long hike outside of the city or just taking a half hour to clear our minds on an afternoon nature walk, there's so much inspiration all around us when we have time to take a minute out of the everyday grind and take in our environment.”
“What values are you committed to? How have they changed since you started your career and/or business?”
“Our values drive our business. It was important to both of us to have a business rooted in values and having them fleshed out and articulated has helped us keep them central to our decision making since we started!
Our main four are:
- Leave it better than you found it: We have a responsibility to make things better for those who come after us. We work with environmentally friendly fabrics, ethical, transparent factories and give back to the outdoors we so love.
- Invest in the next generation: We are always moving forward to make things better for people, the planet, and our processes. Whether through innovation in manufacturing or the future of young female explorers, we believe in investing in the next generation.
- Demand equal opportunity: We support, feature and work with diverse voices. The outdoors should be for everyone.
- Go outside, have fun, get dirty: We believe that outdoor recreation = happiness. We're grateful for the ability to go outside, have fun & get dirty, so we honor that every day. We do this by celebrating the joy and freedom we experience from getting outside, both in how we represent the outdoors in our imagery and how we build our culture internally (Fridays = get outside days at alder HQ).”
Have you ever been faced with a time where you felt like a failure? How did you overcome it?
“Absolutely! Feeling like a failure may be part of the job description of entrepreneur. It's important not to let those thoughts take over. At the end of the day, reminding ourselves that starting a business is an incredibly brave and difficult thing to do and even in "failure", there is learning. It helps to hear other entrepreneurs’ stories as well, especially those who we look up to as being "successful". Almost everyone we've spoken with has felt like a failure at some point. We make it a point to be honest and transparent with those we speak with to let them know that it's normal to have doubts. Having tools in your arsenal to pick you up out of negative emotions is key!”
What advice do you have for individuals who want to start or take their business to the next level?
“Take the time to establish what kind of a business you want to run and how that will impact your financing strategy and your lifestyle. Not every business needs to be venture backed, not every business needs to grow fast, not every business needs to have the same goals. Knowing what you want and what will make you truly happy to run the business day in and day out will be key to keeping yourself going through tough times.”
We want to thank Naomi and and Mikayla, the inspiring founders of Alder Apparel. Their story is a testament to the power of hard work and determination when it comes to starting and scaling a successful business. We're grateful for their willingness to share their insights and hope their story will inspire others to follow in their footsteps.
Whether you're just starting out or looking to take your business to the next level, we encourage you to explore grants, awards, and other resources that can help you achieve new heights. Let Naomi and Mikayla’s story be a reminder that anything is possible with the right mindset and support.