How entrepreneur Rory Westbrook launched True Vintage from his bedroom
Graduating just a few years ago in 2015, Business Administration alumnus Rory Westbrook is going places with his company True Vintage: a vintage clothing retailer. We recently caught up with Rory to discover how he launched the company whilst studying and how it’s going from strength to strength.
Can you tell us how True Vintage began?
I had always had a keen interest in fashion since my teenage years, I worked in various clothing shops and to be honest was a bit of an online shopping addict. My love of vintage clothing came in my first year of University. The loud stand out designs really grabbed my attention, and I liked the fact you wouldn’t see anyone wearing the same t-shirt or jacket as you. The other great aspect of vintage is that the items hold their value; you can wear it for a few weeks and sell it for the same price. I started selling my unwanted vintage items on eBay and quickly saw there was good profit to be made. One morning whilst in bed I decided to start my own Instagram page selling a few vintage pieces, and that’s when True Vintage was born. Followers grew and I quickly realised the brand had potential with there being very few vintage retailers offering quality branded vintage clothing. With the funds from my part time job I expanded the stock and built a website, and the orders soon started rolling in.
Have you always been interested in fashion? Or did you have another career direction in mind before joining University?
My first job was fashion-focused. I worked for a men’s clothing store in Guildford selling premium branded wear from the age of 16. Then, during my first and second year at Portsmouth, I worked at Bored of Southsea. So yes, I have always appreciated good fashion and studying business at University set me in the right direction.
You have come a long way since those early start-up stages. Can you offer more information into the journey you have taken from start-up to your current success?
The business was rapidly growing from very early on. My university bedroom was taken over and soon turned into a stock room & office and I had boxes of clothes coming in every week. It was difficult to juggle studying whilst running a company full time, but luckily I had help from friends and family. After University I moved the business to my family home for a few months and had both my brothers working with me, before then moving to London.
As True Vintage went from strength to strength, I was soon employing friends to manage the work load and we moved the business to its own south London warehouse where we still are today.
The key to our success in my opinion comes down to my hard working team, our efficiency, our working relationships, and our passion to keep growing and offer the best possible service to our customers.
What makes True Vintage Unique?
We specialise in high quality branded vintage and offer unique clothing that no one else has. We add fresh pieces on the website & app every day and understand what our customers want.
How has the University of Portsmouth helped your journey? Did you use any of the services on offer either during or after your time studying here?
My time at Portsmouth played a key part in building my business experience. It is where True Vintage was first established and our team is now made up from good friends I made at University.
Have you faced any challenges on your journey? If so, how did you overcome these and what lessons have you learnt?
As with any business, one of the main challenges is keeping our brand exciting for customers and standing out from competitors. Standing out has been difficult over the past few years as many of our added features and decisions have been imitated. There are many daily challenges with running a company, with many decisions to be made, but this makes work exciting. The competition only makes us more determined to remain the number one online vintage retailer.
Who or what inspires you?
Fashion and business combined. The fashion industry is one of the biggest in the world and will always be relevant and full of inspiration. We aim to lead the way for vintage clothing brands and designing our own clothing line is also something we are working towards. We are learning more and more everyday within the industry.
What advice would you give to students and alumni who are interested in starting a business within your industry?
The clothing industry is a very competitive market, but one that will always be around. So there’s plenty of opportunity there as long as you can offer a valuable product/brand. Only start a business if you are passionate in that area and are motivated enough to work through the everyday challenges.
What does the future hold for True Vintage?
We have some huge plans coming up in terms of pop up shops, collaborations and starting our own clothing line. We have just launched a new website and a True Vintage app. We are always looking to expand what we can offer and stay true to our customers.
We would like to thank Rory for sharing his inspirational entrepreneurial journey with us. Find out more about True Vintage and purchase your own unique vintage clothing item by visiting the website and Instagram.