Ryan Hewitt: how I funded my clothing company with a Virgin StartUp Loan

If you were going to pick one of the hardest industries to break into, fashion would probably top that list. Yet, funding from Virgin StartUp meant that Ryan Hewitt could steam straight in. He launched Dirty Rich Apparel this year and is hoping to build an army of followers. Here’s how he realised his dream.

My Name is Ryan Hewitt, I am 24 and I'm the owner of Dirty Rich Apparel, a clothing line I started from the ground up last year and have just launched the website.

My journey started at the end of 2013 when I decided I wanted to fulfill a life goal and create my own clothing line. At the time I had no job, no money and no base to work from, I had quite the mountain to climb to say the least.

I started by looking for a shed I could work from in my garden. My dad helped me buy a summer house we found online and two weeks later, what we now call, the ‘million dollar hut’ arrived in one big stack!

While building the hut I was working on a small project to earn some money. I’m a fan of Breaking Bad, (the TV Show) and designed a Breaking Bad t-shirt for Christmas. I made the design and out sourced a screen-printing company to do 100 of the designs I had made. I created a website, and I got my first sale in the first second of the launch! The t-shirts then continued to sell, worldwide.

After Christmas was over I had built a base from selling Breaking Bad t-shirts, but I still had the goal of creating my own clothing line and felt the only way to achieve this would be to screen print t-shirts myself. I managed to find a great company called Wicked Printing Stuff who had a monthly payment scheme to allow me to start a small company with the equipment!

This allowed me to switch my focus onto my clothing line, which I called Dirty Rich Apparel. I decided to stop selling the Breaking Bad T-shirts and work out how I was going to build a clothing range from scratch, I already had about 20 designs I had been working on but I realised, I’d need stock and a long list of other essentials!

I also wanted to promote the new clothing line and a friend offered to create a short advert to get the name out there. I just needed models, location, travel a photographer and of course, all the clothing. So I came across Virgin StartUp on Facebook and signed up, I then received a call to attend a workshop in London.

At the workshop I was given help on how to write a business plan that would be at a higher enough level to apply for funding. A few weeks later, after a session with a business advisor my application was accepted and I received a £6,500 Virgin StartUp Loan. ( I originally asked for £17,000, it seems to be a common theme that us entrepreneurs think we need more than we actually do!)

With the Virgin StartUp Loan, I bought all the fabrics and styles I needed. Five large boxes arrived and took over the living room until everything was printed.

On top of this, I’ve bought equipment, paid for website costs and used the loan for inks, labels and  embroidery. Allowign me to use other funds to make this video:

I believe my journey is only just beginning and I am so happy with the way the site looks with all my designs now on there! I’m also ready to fail, failing is wonderful, and dreaming is everything.