Entrepreneurship Has Heat: Four Lessons From Starting An E-Commerce Clothing Brand

This is a Guest Post by Wesley Kang, the co-founder of , a company that offers “actually slim” dress shirts for Asian Americans

Working a full-time job in NYC is great for so many reasons. Great pay, great benefits and great stability. However, it’s a lot like the earth: it takes a lot of time and effort for a notable change. In contrast, entrepreneurship is like fire, every moment can sway in any direction and there’s always a risk of being burned. The thing with fire is, it comes with a constant desire to burn bigger and stronger, and that’s how I’ve felt the first 6 months since starting , my company that creates actually-slim dress shirts inspired by the slimmer Asian body type.

A fire begins with the right resources

What pulled me towards entrepreneurship has a mini-story, and it wasn’t planned. I came to NY in the summer of 2015 for my first real job, working at a big bank. After 3 years of working there, I realized there wasn’t much more I could learn and I grew tired of the put-your-ass-in-a-chair-and-get-promoted-every-2-or-3-years environment. It felt like a constant race to see who could sit the longest. We weren’t particularly smart or had particularly unique skills, despite what people may think about banking and finance. I felt a strong desire for change that grew day by day. Like a fire needs oxygen to burn, similarly, I believe I had the skillset, the financial stability, and the idea to ignite.

A fire burns faster with guidance and direction

It was time for some change and challenge, so I joined a startup that has built a platform for selling used cars online via a D2C channel, working in the Finance department. I gained an incredible amount of knowledge while there, around data and the intersections of running a business. It was refreshing to actually feel like part of a larger mission, but I came to realize that purpose was different than what I was expecting. I thought that purpose was being a part of a startup and making an impact, but as I was being challenged (and I mean really challenged), I realized I didn’t actually give a shit how successful the startup would be, or if I contributed to it. I was actually excited because I kept dreaming about how I could use the newly gained data skills, marketing knowledge, and financial reporting skills to create my own thing that I could be proud of. Once I realized what I was actually excited about, there was no going back. I felt the same desire I had just 8 months ago in traditional finance, but stronger this time, and I knew where I had to go. I could no longer go to work for 8-12 hours a day while my mind was elsewhere, dreaming. I realized I could never be truly good or passionate about working for someone else and I craved the control and creative freedom entrepreneurship would offer.

A fire needs support to grow

https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/EHdnst3sJvTS1LhnAwyGPWhfzUy8HonJIMJhW7wrLHocff8XET6xFmKdMDA9OvkrC-Y73w2NYxJzHsGWgF11dGRBHnkkYcQNHvwG52-dC_DCLv9ukah_aD-Vb03LG6D_5UfetmXf

Quitting the corporate career path was definitely difficult for me. Cultural norms and traditions within the Asian community tell us success has a relatively strict definition. It means majoring in Business, concentrating in Pre-Med, or Pre-Law, or be in any generally high-income careers. So to be someone who’s done one of the 3, “made it”, and then LEAVE, has challenged the typical norms and pushed the boundaries of my relationship with my family. Despite those reservations, I wanted to build a company that defies standard fashion industry norms with and inspire others in my community to defy conventional paths of success by pursuing other passions like entrepreneurship.

Today, my family is incredibly supportive and I couldn’t be more thankful. I know my story will NOT be everyone’s story. My fire needed the continued support and resources that were my family, my friends, and my co-founder Tanya Zhang. I think staying in NYC has been beneficial for us and our brand. Because we’re ultimately a retail business and have physical products, being in NYC has opened doors for making connections and expanding the business through collaborations. While I haven’t experienced entrepreneurship outside of NYC, I think the sheer density and variety in NYC makes it a rich and resourceful location to grow.

You will get burned

Leaving a corporate job is super scary, but it was the right choice for me. The upsides always outweigh the downsides. The most unexpected upside is that I no longer feel bound by time. It sounds weird, but I don’t feel like I’m ever really “working” anymore. In traditional careers, you’re always on a clock. Doesn’t matter if you’re salaried or not, you always “got off work”, even if it was 2 am. But now, I am ALWAYS working, so I think the weird and unnatural upside is that since I’m always “working” and thinking about “work”, it’s not even really work anymore. It’s just me. It’s an upside because I love it. I never dread going back to doing what I love. I never dread having to put in 5 more “hours” into what I love doing.

A downside is that uncertainty is at an all-time high, and I mean that in every sense of the word. When you’re at a corporate job, there’s a high level of predictability: you somewhat know where you stand in your abilities technically, socially, etc. and you have expectations for how a project gets done, how a conversation may go. In the early stages of entrepreneurship, everything goes out the window. You still have expectations, you still make predictions, but they are wrong 95% of the time.

When I first started working on Nimble Made, I expected that with modern solutions, building a website would be a simple click and drag, but there’s a lot of work that comes before that—understanding your e-commerce platform and all its bugs and limitations can take a while.

I expected digital advertising would be straightforward. But for a newcomer, the platforms (FB/IG, Google Ads, etc.) themselves can take some getting used to, let alone the amount of spending required to get meaningful data or truly understand the appropriate objectives and customer behavior. On any given day, you can be at your lowest low and your highest high and it is draining emotionally and physically.

Because your life is “work”, you can go too fast. Put in too many hours, when your mind just needs some rest to gain perspective. Tossed around by the ups and downs of emotions.

I’ve learned that you will get burned, but it makes you stronger every time and that’s why I would never regret my decision to leave corporate America.

Being an entrepreneur pushes you to your limit, and that’s what it takes to succeed. For me, there is not much to lose. At worst. I re-enter the job market with a much more well-rounded skillset that not many others will have.

What took me so long to get started?


You can e-mail Wesley or check out his company, .

About Paul Millerd

Paul is a writer, creator, and curious human that is passionate about how people can reimagine their relationship with work to do things that matter. He published The Pathless Path in 2022.

Leave a Comment