As most entrepreneurs have figured out by experience, the first twelve months of any new enterprise are crucial. These are the months of hustle, where the problems that arise and the solutions discovered create the cultural fabric of the business. Would-be business owners often begin with an idea – a series of thoughts which exists only in their mind – and bringing that idea to life is the process that makes or breaks an enterprise. Lessons learned from others’ start-up victories can drive innovation, whether your company is still in the idea phase or has been operating for years.
For instance, take a look at Pierce Woodward. Most kids his age spend their days languishing in a high school classroom, watching the clock tick by. But Pierce, who just turned 18, has spent the last twelve months creating an iconic fashion empire with over 1.5 million TikTok followers. His company, Brand Pierre, produces hand-crafted rings from antique silverware and his inventory regularly sells out in minutes on BrandPierre.com.
So what is Pierce Woodward doing differently that led to his business’ explosion in a matter of months? Here are some of the solutions he’s discovered.
#1. Drop What’s Not Working to Chase Your Dream
At 14, Pierce started his first business. He got his initial taste of entrepreneurship by buying and reselling Supreme, a high-end clothes brand that drives scarcity through periodic product drops. When his parents saw his success, they allowed him to skip school when the brand was having a drop so he could acquire inventory.
The entrepreneurial culture in his home is a huge motivational force for Pierce. As his family has moved twenty-six times, his childhood was not rooted in one neighborhood but in family relationships. He had seen his parents ride the ups and downs of high-risk entrepreneurship, so he wasn’t afraid to try something different. His parents have just one rule for Pierce: “You have to make it on your own.” At 16, when he decided to drop out of high school to start his own business, they responded, “It’s about time.”
Rather than grasping onto the high school diploma as the ultimate measure of success for his age, Pierce determined that there were other avenues available to him. He saw possibility in places other people weren’t looking, and letting go of high school freed him up to chase his dream.
#2. Use What You Already Have
When Pierce launched Brand Pierre, he didn’t have much to work with. His family’s plan to spend a few months in Europe was crushed by the pandemic, and he found himself homeless in Florida with only a couple of suitcases to his name. With no extended family or friends in the area, his family drifted from rental to rental. It was out of this complete chaos that Brand Pierre was born.
With nothing but a hammer, bolt cutters, and a 2×4, Pierce bent his first antique spoon ring. He had been introduced to ring-making by a friend who did it as a hobby. Pierce began filming videos of his craft for TikTok and was soon averaging over 40k views. When he bent spoons for his first product drop, the views soared to 185k. His second drop video hit 4.5 million.
“It was insane to me to make something with my own hands that other people would wear,” Pierce recalls. He currently employs a team to help with fulfillment and purchasing silverware at antique stores and estate sales. He has honed his craft, bending thousands of rings so far. But he began with what he had: an idea, curiosity, and a few tools.
#3. Drive Demand
Social media sites like TikTok and Instagram have fueled the success of Brand Pierre exponentially. These sites provided Pierce with a marketing platform that he could bring with him as his family moved from place to place. As he used daily videos to actively cultivate online relationships, his brand exploded in popularity.
Pierce began by partnering with his influencer friends, crafting rings for them and promoting to their viewers. Eventually, these videos caught the attention of world-famous social media influencers, including Dixie D’Amelio and Noah Beck. TikTok stars were soon contacting Pierce to receive and endorse his product, and his views soared. To date, his videos have been viewed over 250 million times.
Product demand was driven both by the popularity of his stunning creations and through his use of periodic product drops. Pierce had learned from his experience reselling Supreme that creating scarcity drove interest and demand. He currently holds a product drop twice a month, with serious buyers setting their clocks to the drop schedule. His rings can sell out in as little as six minutes.
#4. Don’t Wait on Anyone
A couple of months into the launch of Brand Pierre, Pierce was contacted by Wilhelmina, one of the top modeling agencies in the world. He negotiated an exclusive three-year contract with Wilhelmina, thinking it might be the answer to his marketing challenges.
However, because of the pandemic, Pierce has been unable to participate in a single modeling shoot. He had a choice to make: ease up on his home-grown marketing, or wait for help from the powerful Wilhelmina brand. Pierce decided to move forward, creating his own photography and videography to showcase his style and his brand, and the results have been enormous. He was recently notified by Shopify that his storefront was in the top 1% of companies with sales on their platform.
Pierce Woodward’s story is one of bold action and determination. His ability to show up day after day to create a following while many people were experiencing pandemic passivity allowed him to launch strongly. He learned to drive demand through influencer endorsements and scheduled product drops. He discovered a piece of his personal genius, using what he had to create an appealing product. He let go of things in his life that were eating up time and energy without providing the return he was looking for.
The evolution of digital branding and the coming-of-age of Gen Z marks a great opportunity for entrepreneurs. As Pierce Woodward’s experience shows, nimbleness and creativity are essential for start-ups in the emerging market, and young people will lead the way.