In the heart of the entrepreneurial spirit, there exists a captivating tale of two brothers who turned their shared passion for Appalachia and fashion into a thriving business venture.
Nestled within the mountains of Morehead, their clothing store stands not only as a testament to the power of familial collaboration but also as a beacon of inspiration for aspiring entrepreneurs.
With a vision fueled by creativity, determination, and a commitment to quality, these siblings transformed their dream into a reality, proving that the journey of building a successful small business is not only feasible but can also be a deeply rewarding endeavor.
Their story serves as a source of motivation for those with a shared dream, illustrating that with a blend of innovation, resilience, and a touch of familial synergy, the entrepreneurial landscape can indeed become a canvas for the manifestation of dreams.
In this month’s Meet the Client blog, we share the story of New Frontier.
Q&A Session with New Frontier
Q: Provide an overview of your background and what inspired you to become an entrepreneur and start your own company.
A: Jared and I’s story begins with us being local high school janitors wanting to create something big for Appalachia. We were just fresh out of high school and college and did not want to move away from home to pursue a career. We each saw the vision of there being an apparel brand from EKY & Appalachia that resonated globally and wanted to fill that void that did not exist.
Q: What was the initial idea or concept behind your business, and how did it come about?
A: We saw other brands out west that celebrated the region or state they were in, brands that made apparel for their community, and then very corporate brands that felt like a disconnect to our neck of the woods – so we set out to create a brand that we wanted to see emerge from Appalachia and represent the values we hold dear here.
Q: Can you describe the early days of your startup? What were the biggest challenges you faced during the launch phase?
A: Early days were hustling and selling merchandise out of a jeep and meeting customers by word of mouth, anything we could do to spread the word. Going to events, fall festivals, setting up and shows, anything to continue to raise brand awareness. The biggest challenge was having a large enough megaphone to share what we were doing, but word of mouth spread quickly and we hustled to make up for that.
Q: Were there any key moments or experiences that motivated you to take the leap and start your own business?
A: Key moments come in the day-to-day, it could be a charitable event where we have the opportunity to give back, to help somebody out, or to inspire others to create something of their own – I do think Channing Tatum wearing one of our hats in 2017 gave a jolt of confidence though early on.
Q: What were the first steps you took to turn your idea into a reality, and how did you secure funding (if applicable)?
A: Sounds cliche but just doing it with what you have around you at that time and not being afraid of the no’s or mistakes. Funding was organic early, hindsight we would have leaned into folks like SOAR and others to explore funding or loans designed to build and grow a business.
Q: Entrepreneurship often involves taking risks, can you share a significant risk you took early in your journey and how it turned out?
A: The biggest risk was the decision to go all in on this idea right out of high school for me, and college for Jared, but at that moment of being all in on a mission, it holds you accountable – and we have not looked back since
Q: What has been your most rewarding accomplishment as a founder so far?
A: The most rewarding moment as mentioned earlier is the opportunity to give back. We just recently spoke to a group of 1st-grade art classes about designing clothes and being able to represent our town/state, and maybe one day those kids (or some of them) will remember that and they will go on to do something big. That is fulfilling for us, and at the end of the day is what it is all about.
Q: On the flip side, can you talk about a specific setback or failure you encountered and how you overcame it?
A: When we first started our business we had to deal with trademark issues that could have closed the doors, instead we used it as an inflection point and made it better.
Q: Building a business can be mentally and emotionally taxing, how do you manage stress and maintain your motivation during the tough times?
A: Golfing, family time, friends, exercising – business and entrepreneurship are only at their peak when your mind is at its peak, it’s all about balance, and taking care of your mental health first.
Q: How did you go about assembling your initial team, and what qualities do you look for in the people you work with?
A: We wanted to focus on local talent, and harnessing our regional network. We started by leaning in with Morehead State University to source talent
Q: As your business grew, what were some critical milestones or turning points that shaped its trajectory?
A: The biggest milestone that turned the corner for us was never one thing, but the continual pursuit daily of the mission even when times are tough is what I think makes NF who we are.
Q: Can you share a few examples of the most valuable lessons you’ve learned as a founder and how they’ve influenced your approach to business?
A: The most valuable lesson is to not forget being in business is not all about money, it’s about being a steward of the community and serving those around you at all times through what you do.
Q: How do you stay innovative and adaptable in an ever-changing business landscape?
A: Keep an open mind and a macro view, as things change, your business can do, just be sure the change is aligned with the value metrics your business is founded on.
Q: What role has mentorship played in your entrepreneurial l journey, and do you have any advice for aspiring founders on seeking mentorship?
A: It is important to always ask for help and seek advice from those around you only if they have experience in the field you need help with.
Q: Can you talk about your company culture and the values that drive your team’s success?
A: Our values are built on authenticity and resilience, we have an underdog spirit at NF being from EKY that keeps us going every day and gives us a burning desire we have something to prove to the world.
Q: How do you prioritize work-life balance as a founder and what strategies do you use to maintain it?
A: Everything must be in balance (or the best it can be) it will never be perfect, but in my experience family, friends, and spiritual relationships are first and business is something we do with our time on earth – it should never consume you or take away from the priceless things in life, and if it does, it’s time to change the routine.
Q: What do you believe sets your business apart from competitors, and what is your long-term vision for the company?
A: Being from Appalachia, a place where you would not expect to see an apparel brand come from, is doing just that – we like doing things differently – and leaning into what makes us different. The outlook of NF is to be a household name in the apparel industry from Kentucky and represent the heartland.
Q: How has the COVID-19 pandemic (or any other external factors) impacted your business and how did you adapt to these challenges?
A: COVID exposed us as a business to lean into our social media and online store to connect with our customers.
Q: What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs who are just starting their journey?
A: Every day is a new opportunity to do something good.
Q: Looking back, is there anything you wish you had known when you first started your business?
A: I think it’s important to figure things out on your own and have your own experience, if everybody read the same 10-step guideline to start a business we’d all be the same.
Q: As a business built in Appalachia, what is your favorite part of being a business in EKY? What barriers have you faced and how did you overcome them?
A: It makes us proud to represent the region and the folks in it, we owe it to them to do our best and showcase to the rest of the world that there is much more to offer from this neck of the woods – and it can be done.
Q: What advice would you give to those looking to start a business in Eastern Kentucky?
A: Start building with conviction, and treat people right along the way. The rest will fall into place
New Frontier Recognition
- 5 Businesses to Watch in 2023
- New Frontier featured in SOAR Holiday Gift Guide
- 2023 KY Inno Fire Awards, Disruptors: New Frontier
- Christ Stapleton’s bassist partners with New Frontier for Hat Charity
Maybe you don’t have your business idea plan set in stone or maybe you’ve been wondering if your business is ready for the next step.
You can reach out to our SOAR Innovation Team to help you find out your next steps.
Our Innovation team members, appropriately called Champions, begin to identify challenges small business owners or entrepreneurs might be facing. Just as important, they help identify and seize opportunities WITH small businesses and entrepreneurs.
This is done through a variety of direct services and 1:1 coaching.
- Business Ideation
- Financial Forecasting
- Google Verification
- Website Fundamentals
- Digital Media and Marketing
Reach out to our SOAR Innovation Team members today!
Ready for the next step?
Apply for the 2024 Startup Appalachia Pitch Competition!
Do you have Appalachia Kentucky’s next big idea?
We want to hear it… and we want to fund it.
Thanks to the generosity of Community Trust Bancorp, we will award nearly $20,000 in cash prizes with first-place taking home $10,000!
Finalists also get to take home $500.
Who is eligible for the competition?
The business must be a startup based in one of the 54 ARC KY Counties.
- A Startup is defined as a concept or existing business financed by its founders that is attempting to attract outside investment.
- An existing business cannot be more than 5 years old.
- Must have a product or service that has an e-commerce or exporting focus.
The competition is planned for April 11, 2023, and the location is yet to be determined (TBD).
But don’t let that date fool you, the deadline to APPLY is coming up soon!
The deadline to apply is December 31, 2023. We know that applying for a pitch competition can be a little intimidating. It doesn’t have to be and we are here to help.
You can apply HERE.
A quick note from Director of Business and Innovation, Sabrina McWhorter.
“Jared and Josh have an amazing story we are honored to share this month. From bootstrapping their business to thinking bigger and outlining goals for their future, they have stayed authentic to their mission. Their story is a great source of inspiration to other regional and beyond founders. We look forward to walking alongside them in 2024 to see what’s next!” said Sabrina McWhorter, Director of Business and Innovation.
For more information
Got questions? Contact Sabrina McWhorter, Director of Business and Innovation, at email@example.com.