CM® worked with Barclays on a Q&A session to help bring young talent to the fore. Recently, I answered questions by an audience of young entrepreneurs to unveil the truth about the fashion business and my journey. Barclays reveals that nearly half of Scottish school children want to start a business when they grow up, whilst the ambition is out there, Scotland and the UK needs to do more to ensure this transitions to young people starting their own business. Britain’s budding entrepreneurs could contribute an additional £23.3 billion to the UK economy by 2025; however, only 6% of UK entrepreneurs are aged 25 or under, showing more must be done to boost the next generation of wealth creators.
WHAT DID BARCLAYS HAVE TO SAY: When Christian MacLeod left school at 16 to pursue his childhood dream of becoming a professional golfer, little did he know that it was actually his dream of becoming an entrepreneur that would come true.
In his first year on the circuit he realised that golf wasn’t a particularly fashion conscious sport. With only a few brands doing luxury sportswear, he started to design his own to ensure he stood out from the crowd on the course, attracting attention and questions from fellow players as to where he got his kit.
A serious accident at 17 meant he was unable to play golf for two years so he turned his attention to his business full-time, focusing on producing luxury belts. His big break came when former Open Champion Paul Lawrie wore one of his belts on the Masters Tour. By the time he was fully recovered from his injury, sales were thriving and his passion for business had been ignited.
Christian’s belts are now sold across the world and stocked in quality retailers like House of Fraser. Around 87% of his sales are online.
But his path to success wasn’t easy. He faced numerous barriers because of perceptions about his age. When trying to secure professional support from lawyers and accountants he was forced to resort to conducting business by phone and email so his age wouldn’t count against him as it had in face to face situations.
He also set his sights high, targeting the biggest men’s fashion magazine in the world – GQ. Despite contacts telling him he didn’t stand a chance of getting his products into the hallowed pages at his age, he proceeded to pass the 16-stage interview process. He was the youngest designer by seven years to be featured in GQ. The fashion bible became a useful tool for adding credibility in meetings.
Christian started banking with Barclays around a year ago, impressed by the bank’s refreshing attitude and approach to supporting entrepreneurs.
While many professional advisers dismissed him as a young boy with a dream he would grew out of, his tenacity, persistence and subsequent success has proved them wrong.