Growing up in a Drayton Valley—a town of 7,200 people in Alberta, Canada—Sid Neigum wasn’t exposed to many fashionistas. One of the biggest industries in the area is oil and gas.
Neigum discovered how much he loved fashion serendipitously, while working in a clothing store. That led him to take sewing classes and enroll in a tiny 12-month, post-secondary fashion program with only eight students. Eventually, he got into Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) and moved to New York City to immerse himself in his field.
Inspired to try running his own business by observing his father, who ran an excavation firm, Neigum, now 29, set up shop as a women’s fashion designer six years ago, after his graduation from FIT.
“He was a huge advocate of being an entrepreneur,” Neigum says of his father. “He sort of rubbed off on me in a way that I want to have my own business, but it had to be a creative twist on what he is doing.”
Nonetheless, he knew there were no guarantees of success when entering the highly competitive fashion industry, where small design shops like Sid Neigum compete against global brands with multi-million-dollar marketing budgets. Nonetheless, he says, “I was 100% committed and hoped it would work out.”
Neigum’s approach, which reflects his mathematical bent, soon won many fans. As Vogue put it recently, “Neigum’s essential passion, as a designer, is for geometry; he’s an innovative patternmaker, and his work is premised on a near-religious belief in the beauty and power of the golden ratio, a proportion he diligently works through his clothes.”
With fashion lovers eager to buy his designs, Neigum broke $1 million in revenue as a solo entrepreneur. This year he expects annual revenue of $1.3 million in the profitable business.
While being highly talented no doubt contributes to Neigum’s success, there are plenty of people with artistic gifts who struggle to make a living and have to give up on their dreams to pay the bills. He beat the odds, and it’s possible for other creative entrepreneurs to do so, too, by applying some of his strategies. Here’s how:
Find a creative refuge. Many designers leave Toronto for fashion meccas like New York or Paris, but Neigum opted to stay put. He found that no matter where he happened to be working, he ended up flying frequently to do business anyway.
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