Written By: Jean-Philippe L’Écuyer, Entrepreneur in Residence, Futurpreneur Canada, email@example.com
The Tailor2Go truck is a real attention-getter. While it makes those familiar with the brand smile, it piques the curiosity of outsiders. With that said, owner, Nathon Kong is finding that it’s becoming harder and harder for people to ignore the strong brand he has built for Tailor2Go.
The Tailor2Go brand is inseparable from its founder, Nathon Kong. A young, dynamic entrepreneur, Nathon exudes a vibrant energy, one associated with a deep meaning. Tailor2Go is the very expression of the education and fundamental values of its founder. Nathon easily navigates between Tailor2Go’s history and that of his own childhood, a naturalness that attests to strength of the connection between the two.
Nathon’s first contact with entrepreneurship goes back to his family. His parents owned a company that demanded a great deal of time and many sacrifices. Nathon remembers well how much this business monopolized his parents’ lives, his mother’s in particular. “All I know is that when I was young, my mother worked a lot,” he explained. In all honesty, he would have liked to spend more time with his mother. Yet he clearly acknowledges his mother’s contribution to his education. “She gave me so much more than everything I could have ever hoped for!”
Nathon’s mother was able to communicate the values of integrity and authenticity founded on “being” rather than on “having.” There was also an emphasis placed on community. “Success is not your title or what you have, but rather it is what you give back to the community,” he shared.
When Nathon describes his childhood and his education, we recognize all the cultural specificities that find their expression in his immense respect and endless gratitude for what had been passed on to him. Nathon says that in his case, his mother was his most treasured mentor.
As far back as he can remember, Nathon always wanted to be an entrepreneur. He quickly immersed himself in the milieu and today he capitalizes on the importance of achieving the full potential of what one truly is at heart.
While the existence of Nathon’s entrepreneurial spirit was never in question, the Tailor2Go brand was actually born of a combination of circumstances. After completing his MBA, Nathon began searching for a suit that reflected his personality. Proud and concerned about his image, he took six months to find a suit that he really liked. Having finally found that rare gem, he spent an exorbitant sum to purchase the suit in question. Despite the cost, Nathon felt that wearing a suit that truly pleased him was essential.
Although we can only guess how much Nathon spent on the famous suit, the amount remains a state secret to this day. It’s anyone’s guess! It was, however, only after spending this staggering amount that Nathon discovered the universe of bespoke suits. “Made-to-measure is more expensive but you get so much more for your money. That’s when I realized that there was an opening in the market.”
For Nathon, this was the “ah-ha” moment. To his way of thinking, men definitely wanted quality in their professional clothing. The question became how to offer them the desired level of quality and how much they were willing to pay for it. Nathon made two observations that are today the fundamentals of the Tailor2Go brand.
First, Nathon noted that the quality conveyed by a brand goes far beyond the simple product itself. It depends instead on the entire experience offered to the client. This is what allows a brand to offer its client more. Second, Nathon saw that a brand’s success was linked to the relationship it developed with its client. These two observations led to the establishment of the Tailor2Go brand’s mainstays. At that point, Nathon had to learn how to create a special relationship with the client, which would in itself be an experience.
This was the genesis of the idea to create a tailor who made house calls. Such a model would give the client a truly unique experience while focusing on the development of a special relationship between client and brand. In addition, this model addressed a desperate need among male professionals who want to wear made-to-measure clothing despite their lack of time. These clients would no longer have to go to the tailor because the tailor would come to them.
From then on, Nathon had his game plan. He would outfit a truck that would become his mobile boutique. This is where, Elizabeth, Tailor2Go’s mobile boutique, was born. Nathon laughs, adding that his truck is called Elizabeth Taylor!
Such are the foundations of Tailor2Go, an intelligent business model that is appropriate to the market it serves. That said, the Tailor2Go brand is much more than simply an effective business model that is well-positioned in the market. The secret ingredient is Nathon Kong himself! It is this young entrepreneur’s philosophy, attitude and openness as well as his discipline that serve as the bases of the Tailor2Go brand.
Nathon is an entrepreneur who knows how to pick a strong team and especially how to listen carefully to the advice he receives from the people who are with him on his entrepreneurial adventure. He has a true desire to learn the lessons provided by those who have succeeded. “I’m not good at everything and I want to learn from their success. I need to validate certain things, do the appropriate research and become informed.”
Nathon summarizes his need to learn, saying that he is a humble and insecure entrepreneur: “I make a distinction between confidence and insecurity. I am a very self-confident person. When I say that I’m insecure, I mean that I try to validate certain things. I’m not a jack-of-all trades and I need help with certain things. In the end, I will always be insecure and humble.”
Despite his thirst for learning from his elders, Nathon has demonstrated great generosity toward those who work with him. He is careful to acknowledge the time they afford him and so he tries to make the experience a pleasant one. He believes that a mentoring relationship is an exchange and that the mentor must also gain something from it. “They aren’t there to solve all my problems. That’s not what I want. It’s ultimately up to me to decide. They give me their time so I have to make the most of it. They also want to learn something in return and the encounter has to be pleasant for them too.”
What’s next for Tailor2Go? It goes without saying that the goal is to ensure the company’s growth. Over the next few years, Nathon’s greatest challenge will be to build a solid team that will allow him operate his brand on a larger scale.
But remember that the Tailor2Go brand is the perfect portrait of Nathon and replicating the business model would certainly be a challenge. How could it serve several cities while maintaining the same standards of proximity and quality that Nathon has established? The young entrepreneur has to teach his company how to do without him. He will have to share the entire essence of his philosophy with his team.
Nathon has created a strong and powerful brand. He will have some major decisions to make regarding the way the brand will evolve to allow it to continue to grow. The challenge will be transferring a strong brand’s secret ingredient, namely Nathon Kong himself!