A young talented 24 year old Bain & Company employee recently threw down his job security in strategy consultancy to setup a new apparel business. His vision: making the dusty overall a trending item and fashion statement for the modern individual man.
Sometimes the white-shoe firms are not a good fit for the entrepreneurial spirit of young professionals. Working to fulfil the strategic goals of other businesses, and their ideas, may involve some creativity, but the fruits of the labour aren’t one’s own, the success isn’t yours to realise and the competitive atmosphere can be stifling. As a result, a change of clothes may be required, illustrated by a recent, remarkable change of career by a young Bain & Company consultant. "There is this feeling that fashion should be fun without taking itself too seriously. It’s building versus planning," says Matt Jorgensen, who left his consulting job at the global American consulting firm (Boston office) to build a start-up with his friends. "I wanted the opportunity to build something tangible where I had the responsibility and ability to f*** up or make something fly.”
Matt Jorgensen, Ben Waller, and Aidan Nelson were undergrads together at Dartmouth College, the three friends have joined stitches to create a new product, called Rousers, which they're calling overalls for the "modern urban man." These aren’t the ubiquitous labourer’s overalls nor the practical overall for children. They are slim, made from premium chino fabric and have an artistic cut. "Overalls, to us, embody a lot of what clothing should be: fun, practical, and versatile," says Jorgensen. "There is this feeling that fashion should be fun without taking itself too seriously.” So far the reaction has been positive, "Seeing that overalls can be stylish is, I think, surprising for a lot of people," Jorgensen remarks.
To receive the capital to turn their idea and design into reality, the three turned to Kickstarter. The socially driven peer funding site heard their idea enthusiastically, with 75% of their funding target of $25,000 met within two weeks of posting the project online. In the meantime the project has been fully funded, with production starting in January 2015 and people that donated to their endeavour will be able to pick up the new creation at a bargain $98 over the expected $145 retail tag.
The move by Jorgensen and his partners embodies a trend that is increasingly impacting the employment marketplace. Employees increasingly are seeking manners to blend entrepreneurism with the security of a full-time job, for organisations the drive brings along significant challenges to HR and performance management, yet if managed well also provides large potential for fostering innovation. To capitalise on the opportunities, and in addition retain top talent, consulting firms globally are widening their HR policies to allow for flexibility. Deloitte UK for example earlier this year announced plans for a £25 million fund to support its staff with ‘intrapreneurship’. While there is a commercial impulse behind their decision, in that profits from successful enterprises are shared with their creator, it too recognises a trend which seems irreversible. "We have some of the most entrepreneurial minds in the country right here in our organisation and we want to give them the opportunity to develop in unique ways,” said Simon Owen, managing partner for innovation at Deloitte.