For Turks and Caicos native Lee Ingham, starting his own clothing line had nothing to do with a deep love for the fashion industry but rather a passion for his native land and a vision to showcase and represent the Turks and Caicos Islands in a cool and exciting way.
And so, in 2009 Lee embarked on a journey launching his first brand 649ing Threads. This line focused on mainly on witty native sayings, slangs and imagery. Despite the popularity, Ingham realized that in order to grow the brand he needed to not just cater to the local market but also the international market. "It was a good idea and sales were steady but I had to take a break to refocus and come up with an idea that would appeal to a wider audience, I wanted to have an international reach and impact".
Ingham went on a hiatus for a few but tells Karib that he was eager to explore other avenues to showcase his creativity and love for his beloved country. And that is where the story of Konk Apparel begins, with just $200 dollars and a dream: Ingham launched what has quickly become one of the most recognizable local brands. "It was just enough to get a few shirts and snapback hats," Ingham recalls.
Konk Apparel is a Caribbean lifestyle brand with designs and elements inspired by and featuring the conch shell. Ingham stated that part of the reason he named his line after the Conch was because the conch shell is such an iconic image in the Turks & Caicos and worldwide, when you think of the conch shell you think Caribbean, food, vacation, sea, sun and fun. "I always wanted people to look at it and know that it was not just a generic brand with mass produced designs but an authentic Turks and Caicos Brand with quality and unique designs.
Today because of Ingham's creative marketing tactics especially via social media using platforms such as Instagram and Facebook, Konk is no longer an unknown line but has grown popular amongst locals and tourists alike and has started to generate a buzz in the international community especially amongst watersport and active sports enthusiast.
"The right hashtag can take your image and message around the world and seen by new and potential customers so be mindful and make sure your hashtags relate to your business." Also remember to always post new content on a daily basis, sometimes the same picture you posted yesterday if you repost today will reach another set of potential followers.
All of Ingham's hard work has paid off as he continues to expand his operations. He tells Karib that the growing popularity and demand from the international market made him decide to take Konk Apparel to a wider audience with the launching of the official Konk Apparel website www.konkapparel.com. The website allows people to purchase Konk Apparel gear with the click of a button. Locally Konk Apparel items such as bamboo shades, snapbacks, buckethats and shirts can be found in Providenciales at Blue Surf Shop in Salt Mills; and in Grand Turk at BK Urban Wear.
"For me it's not about just having a brand but more about being able to represent the Turks & Caicos Islands on an international level, with Konk Apparel | pride the brand on being a premium brand with quality products that can be compared to any international brand. It makes me feel proud especially because I know that currently there is an exciting surge in local entrepreneurs in the Turks and Caicos Islands that have some exciting ideas, products and talent so whenever I make a step or I break new ground as I always say I Do it for Yinna (slang for you all)."
With the launching of a new marketing company which he co owns Outside the Box Advertising, Ingham stresses the importance of being resilient, believing in your brand and always putting God first in all you do. He tells new business owners that it's all about prioritizing, budgeting, having a clear vision to achieve your dreams and most importantly...sacrifice. Sometimes it's about how you separate yourself from the crowd, if everyone around you is selling oranges sell apples and if you have to sell oranges make sure that your oranges are the sweetest and shiniest around.
"Everybody sees the nice pictures when I post them to social media but nobody sees when you're up two o'clock and four o'clock in the morning, nobody sees when I'm pulling my hair trying to come up with new ideas."
As a marketing guru, he also shares some very insightful tips on using social media to promote your business.
Article courtesy of KARIB MAGAZINE