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Adam Mikkelsen - The Ordinaries Underwear

Adam Mikkelsen - The Ordinaries Underwear

 

Our project is The Ordinaries Underwear. The idea started when my girlfriend basically laughed at my underwear collection. Why so many colors? Why poor quality? Where are they even made? Under what circumstances are they made? What’s the fabric? Why so expensive? We soon realized that ordinary guys could do better and should do better. The Ordinaries is the perfect underwear for ordinary guys. Fair labor. Organic cotton. Colors: all black or all white.

 

Adam Mikkelsen, 25 years old, born and raised in Lund and been doing my master in business (marketing) at University of Lund.  I had several part time jobs during my study time and been doing an internship at an ad agency which all have been giving me knowledge that hopefully will be useful during this project. I’m also the co-founder of Wheely’s Café (bicycle café) that a friend and me started about 1,5 years ago. 

 

We have been getting underwear samples from a number of fair labor and organic apparel manufacturers and will hopefully put down the first order soon – launching with the boxer brief in black. A part from getting product we will work on preparing everything from marketing material, webshop and expanding our network in the industry. We will also work on designing the first women’s underwear model that we aim to launch as soon as possible since The Ordinaries is both for men and women.

 

We expect to prepare everything (marketing material, webshop, legal stuff, press release etc) and to launch our first model and be able to start selling (starting of with our own online shop) and to plan for the next steps for the project – such as start contacting retailers.


The Ordinaries Underwear #2

 

We’ve been re-designing our first model (trunks) a bit and got samples from 2 American and 2 European factories that meets our requirements – depending on if the initial launch would be made in U.S (for Americans) or made in EU (for Europeans). We’ve been designing and ordering samples for packaging and such and been working a lot with the story/branding (photo sessions, copywriting and marketing material). We have also been working on the website together with a programmer friend of ours. A lot of time has also been spent networking to find as many ways of proceeding as possible (depending on what our scenarios would be). We’ve also conducted a market research to find out more about preferred models for women’s underwear.  Time has also been spent to get gain knowledge about the textile industry, sustainable fashion and a lot of legal stuff (import/export/shipping etc).

 

The feedback about the project has been really good. More people than expected are willing to help out with what ever they might have to offer – so some parts are easier than expected. The only unexpected thing is that the manufacturing partnership is a bit harder than expected. Our 1st choice of manufacturer (in L.A) unfortunately got over-booked for the summer.  Fortunately we’ve got samples from a number of factories and since the plan is to let the customers buy undies that are made as close as possible to their region, in ‘worst’ case we’re able to do it the other way around: start with European made undies for the European market instead of U.S made to the American market. This would also be a bit smoother from a legal point of view and would fit the story with a few adjustments.

 

We will aim to follow or original plan even if the manufacturing seems to take a bit longer than expected. There are still a lot of things to do considering preparation for a launch so that’s not really a problem. Even so, we should be focusing on ordering the first batch of undies as soon as possible (without changing our values/requirements).  We will put together the more ‘serious’ documents such as a presentation, proper business plan etc and try to pitch the concept for an additional partner trying to get an early investment so we’re able to order a bigger order/ more models that we’re able to right now. Matilda will also been focusing on market research and gaining more knowledge about sustainable ways in the textile industry and Adam will focus a bit more on the design part.


The Ordinaries Underwear # 3
 

It has been a lot of fun to be able to focus on our project and to be able to do it together and learn from each other. We’ve learned a lot of new things about a lot of different stuff (from different stitching techniques, the most popular women’s underwear model to the American legal system and different organic cotton certifications). At times it’s been challenging, especially when things don’t turn out as we’ve planned.  Even so, when meeting a lot of other people working with their projects and discussing ours we’ve realized that almost nothing seem to be impossible. To conclude; it has been fun, rewarding and sometimes frustrating (but that’s a good thing too?).

 

We both agree that the hardest/most frustrating part is when you’re not able to take the project to the next stage until someone else delivers what you’ll need (for example getting the samples in time etc). Learning entirely new things that are totally out of your field is also a hard, yet rewarding, part. The time difference to the U.S has also been a bit frustrating both for us and the Americans involved in the project. The most enjoyable has been every time we managed to complete a step (even tiny one’s like reaching the right person) and presenting the project for someone that haven’t heard about it (hopefully with positive feed-back).

 

We would say that nothing ever goes exactly as expected and believe that you’ll have to be a bit naïve/setting high goals in order to at least get halfway. We have started with everything that we planned to start with- some of things are done and some are not- mainly because some things are taking longer time than we expected- which on the other hand gave us time to focus on other parts in the meantime- so, after all we’re satisfied. We will continue working with the project after summer as well and put in as many hours we can afford.

 

Tips for new entrepreneurs:

Matilda: That it’s very important to have a strict schedule including all to-dos (both big and small) in order to get things done and to prove for yourself (keep yourself motivated) that you actually have done things even though you don’t always see an immediate result of your efforts. 

 

Adam:  That you shouldn’t be scared of asking people for help and feed-back. In the beginning I thought that no one would offer his or her help so we wouldn’t even ask and instead tried to learn everything by ourselves. When starting to ask people (both small and rather big favors) you realize that most people are more than happy to help you out.

 

Don’t just think about an idea- talk about it to friends and family (and no matter the feed-back, if you believe in it- try it out!), Even if you somewhat fail it’s still a win in knowledge. Talk to people, be friendly and helpful and you’ll probably get the same help back. Take some risks but not too big one’s (at least not money-wise).

 

Leapfrogs Working Group
LU Innovation, Sölvegatan 16
Box 117, 221 00 Lund

info [at] leapfrogs.se