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Impact Feature

Meet humanitarian Antoine Taylor

How did you start your business?

My entrepreneurial story begins at Saint John’s University in the midst of my college years. With my time spread thin between classes, football practice, and maintaining a social life, I was struggling to make ends meet. This motivated me to begin offering laundry services to students on campus. After some time doing my peers’ laundry, I decided to make a change, and my side hustle developed into an idea to sell customized socks. I gained rapid success from this endeavor and from that point on, I pursued a career in designing, manufacturing, and selling streetwear. With this new business venture came the birth of our viral t-shirt which was featured in the 2020 BET awards. The success of my streetwear line combined with my heart for helping others manifested into what is now, The Cause International. The Cause is an organization that has its own streetwear line and also provides custom sports gear for athletic teams across the nation. Not only have I created an apparel brand, but I have also established a non-profit within my company. In the last 5 years, my team and I have donated more than $80,000 to underprivileged communities around the world and over $20,000 to inner city high school students. This is just the beginning of my mission to help those in need and inspire the collective to pursue their dreams.

What are some mistakes you wish you could have avoided?

Recently I had an idea to start selling a specific product. I spent so much of my time waiting to start on this project because I was trying to make everything perfect before ever getting started. It was a great learning opportunity for me because I saw someone else making and selling the exact product I had been wanting to start months ago. The mistake I made was attempting to be perfect, when instead, I could have gone out and done my best just to get the ball rolling.

What advice would you give to starting entrepreneurs?

My advice would be to go invest and lose some money. I know it might not be what an entrepreneur wants to hear, but it works. This doesn’t mean throwing your money into an empty investment, but doing something like a jump start marketing campaign. I designed, printed, and handed out thousands of free t-shirts across LA which led to my design going viral. I gave out 100 free t-shirts, found 100 people I didn’t know, and gave them all a free photoshoot. Staying relevant and making connections is absolutely necessary to growing your business. I would also advise that you don’t continuously ask what people like about your company, but rather, ask what they don’t like about your company or product. Being open to constructive criticism gives you the opportunity to focus on the things that need fixing while building on the things that are working. I’ve also learned that relationships are highly more valuable than money is when building a business. Meet people, collaborate, be open to new ideas, work with people you see potential in. Not everything is about the dollar, but about the connections you make along the way.

How can I come up with a great name for my company?

To come up with a powerful name for your company I believe it is best to think about your ‘why’. What is the impact that comes with your company, what is your mission statement? Go from there to come up with a name that will embody the heart of your company.

How do you come up with business ideas?

I bring my ideas to life by surrounding myself with individuals that not only believe in me, but also acquire the skills that I don’t have. For example, if I have an idea, I will pitch that idea to my team and they help me with the logistics. I always have the mindset that if you think you can, you can create it. I know that I am always going to get it done, so I’ll find the help I need to turn my ideas from thoughts into reality.

How can I protect my idea so others don’t steal it?

I have found it’s best to protect an idea by being selective about who you’re speaking to in regards to this new project. I would also advise to have everything established before you want to start marketing your product (legally).

What are the biggest mistakes first-time entrepreneurs can make?

I believe the biggest mistake first-time entrepreneurs can make is being afraid to, or running from, failure. In order to learn and to grow your business, trying, failing, and getting back up is essential to a successful business.

What kind of entity should I set up if I’m only starting my business journey?

I believe LLC to be the best entity to set up when first establishing your business.

What are you most excited about at work right now?

I’m most excited about the upcoming collaborations that I’m working with and the steps we have established that will help us reach our future company goals.

What are your tips for building a great team?

The best way to build a team that will greatly benefit you is by listing everything you’re bad at and finding people that are equipped with those skills.

How do you market your business?

Most of my marketing is done through social media, client testimonials, and digital marketing which include ads and interviews.

What online marketing techniques do you use?

We create TikToks, Instagram reels, and leverage social media giveaways to promote our mission statement and our products.

How should I decide where to set up my business?

Think about the sales tax. For example, in Nevada, you wouldn’t have sales tax so it might be a good place to set up your business. I would also think about going online, ecommerce because of the flexibility that comes with it.

How did you push through your biggest business doubts?

I had to really believe in myself and stay deeply rooted in my faith. I had to be willing to make a decision to devote my life to this mission and to help change the lives of others. There is no plan B, this is everything for me. Once I made that jump and committed to myself and to others, I had no choice but to push through any business doubts.

How did you handle fast growth and scale your business?

I found it easiest to handle my growth by delegating jobs to those who were more experienced or capable in certain areas and by reinvesting money back into the company with different job opportunities to expand our team, and therefore expand our production.

What are the most common mistakes that new business owners make?

One of the most common mistakes a new business owner makes is trying to do everything on their own; especially when their reasoning is to save money. Investing money into building a team will help you grow your business more quickly and efficiently.

How do you plan for the future of your business?

One of my favorite ways to plan for the future of my business are by looking at upcoming trends, as well as reviewing numbers from the previous year and reflecting on what we can do to better expand and align ourselves with the upcoming marketing trends.

How do you evaluate the past ups/downs of your business?

I like to look at my business from a bird’s eye view to see what’s working and where we can improve. I break down what it took to reach certain goals, and then come up with ways on how we can improve them from there.

What advice would you give to a new business owner?

My best advice would be to go and fail. The only way to learn and to grow is to try, to mess up, learn from your mistakes, and move forward.

What’s non-negotiable when you start a business?

A non-negotiable when starting a business is the root. Is the business rooted in your morals, your faith, and your mission statement? The why of your business is what will carry you through the ups and the downs of building success.

How do you craft a great mission statement?

Listen to your heart, grow from the heart, and realize that money is not everything. Instead of money being the goal, keep your focus on the overall impact you’re making. What are you really trying to set out to do? Your mission statement is going to be bigger than money, and when you truly believe in it, you will craft that great mission statement.

How did you raise funding for your business?

I started by doing laundry for other students on campus to make extra money. This then led to me making custom socks and ultimately got me to a point where I could start funding my now business.

How has your business shifted over time?

It started with customized socks, then it grew into apparel like hoodies and t-shirts. From there I started to create athletic apparel for high school sports teams which then grew into offering apparel to collegiate level sports teams, to businesses, and to other programs that needed gear. The goal behind all of this was always to give back and make a difference in the world. Because of that, we’ve been able to donate a percentage of our profits and stay true to our mission statement.

What KPIs do you use to measure your business success?

Our greatest measurement of success is our influence. I look at how many people we are helping, how much we’re making a difference for those around the world. This is how I evaluate my overall business success.

What are you working on now?

I’m currently working on The Cause’s world tour. Our plan is to raise 3.5 million dollars which will allow us to travel to 7 different countries, giving us the means to install water filtration systems and give back to the communities in need. As of now, the tour is scheduled to start in 2024, but I believe we can kick off by the year 2023. Not only do I plan on starting our world tour in the next year, but I also have plans for helping high school seniors from a graduating class by gifting them with free laptops as they embark on their college journey’s. We also want to help the seniors with the process of sports recruitment and gaining scholarships from colleges, all for free. If they’re not playing sports in college, the plan is to offer them guidance in figuring out what path they should take according to their interests and passions.

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