Jarryd Haefele created Zayn Underwear earlier this year after deciding to follow in his mother’s footsteps and open his own business.
The men’s underwear range has become a way for Haefele to give back to a charity he’s passionate about, with a piece of each sale going to beyondblue.
Dynamic Business had a chat to Haefele about how Zayn came to be.
Where did the idea for Zayn Underwear come from?
My mum used to have a clothing store, and we were going to branch out into doing our own gym fashion wear and we started on that, but it just got over our heads in terms of the science behind it, so I left that for a few years. I’ve always wanted to be my own boss, and have my own business and be successful. Obviously I can’t start at the top, so I thought I could start with men’s underwear because it’s so streamlined and hopefully I can make it really good and then branch out.
You studied film at university rather than business or design, so what was the process of designing the range like?
In my course I picked up a graphic design elective and ended up majoring in that, so I didn’t end up doing much film stuff in the end. It was pretty simple, all I had to do was make designs I liked, draw them up, then send them off to the manufacturer. We went back and forth with designs and patterns and materials until I found what I liked. It was a lot easier than I thought it would be. The main barrier was dealing with the manufacturer in China, because of the language. But I’m still learning, for example I didn’t know you could get an import agent, I didn’t know what they did, and now I have one who’s local and I don’t have to deal with the language barrier anymore, so it’s a lot easier now.
Australian personalities like 2Day FM host Angus O’Loughlin have been wearing the brand, how did that happen?
Most of them are contacts I have. I’m still working full time at my current job at a radio station to support myself. I’m from a small country town so we don’t get a lot of people or big bands in to perform but when we do get people in I ask them, like Sam from Big Brother, and Angus from the radio show. I just got to them directly through Facebook and asked them to give us a shout out. I’ve found that most people are happy to get free underwear and then say nice things about it.
Do you have plans to take the brand into stores?
I’m not too sure with the move on that front, but I’m coming out with a new range early next year. It will be a men’s range, because even though I’ve only had one range out, I’ve learned what’s working and what’s not working, so I’ll be phasing out what’s not working, and put a lot more into this next range to make it more my style. After that I’m going to venture into women’s, to get the other 50 per cent of the market. But my dream, years away, is to get into pyjamas and other apparel. I want to become a big brand that’s taken seriously in the fashion world.
You have a link with beyondblue, where a part of your profits go to the charity – why is that important to you?
I was diagnosed with depression six or seven years ago, and I had a lot of help from beyondblue. Working full time is good because it keeps me busy, but I was finding that when I went home I would start to sink again. I put all my thoughts into opening up this business, and it’s good now because it keeps my head busy and always have something to do and think about. beyondblue helped me out a lot, and anything I can give back to them is just a bonus for me.