We were fortunate enough to do a Q&A with Mason Hainey, the designer behind MIZU Brand.He was kind enough to offer up some insight into how it all began and what inspires and drives his vision. He even offers up some advice for aspiring young entrepreneurs…Check it out!
Q: What were you doing before you started this company?
A: Before MIZU Brand, I was a full time student at Maine College of Art planning a career in painting or illustration or something along those lines. A career in fashion was my first “ dream job” as a kid, but as I got older and started looking into college fashion never seemed like the right path to make a living ( like being a painter is any better – ha! ). It wasn’t until I was in college that my love to fashion was re-ignited and became, in my eyes, a feasible way to live, make a difference and do what I love.
I started my business early- when I was 19, right at the beginning of my Sophomore year of College. Through the first few years of opening my company, I held down multiple other jobs to gain more experience and see the business side of things — I got a job sewing shirts for a small design company in the Old Port of Portland and worked as a Visual Assistant for J.Crew, all in-between classes at MECA. After two years at college, I was feeling unfulfilled and dropped out, and so far that has been one of my best choices. I was free to work in the industry I love, and continuing to grow my business.
Q: What is your favorite part about what you do?
A: Creating. The actual moment of seeing a design finished for the first time is the best feeling. The business side of running a company is a necessary part of my life, and its something I’m telling my brain to appreciate more, but letting my creativity run wild while creating a collection will always be my favorite task.
Q: What has been the biggest challenges you’ve faced in starting this business?
A: New challenges rise every day when you build your own company. The toughest thing for me is managing the “Lull”. My brain is constantly running at 100,000 MPH and when a slow week comes It’ difficult for me to find direction without the pressure of looming orders. Free time just doesn’t exist in business so, my solution has been to organize, make lists and commit. Often, slow days are the best to bang out all the administrative stuff that we can overlook so easy.
Q: Any advice for young social entrepreneurs out there with an idea but no clue how to start?
A: I feel like I could write a book for all young entrepreneurs..
First, You need to buckle up. Being in business for yourself is a crazy ride and often a very manic lifestyle. You have to be 400% dedicated to what you do and have unwavering passion otherwise your business will suffer. Days off do not exist – not if you want to get everything you want done. But time away from your work is important and actually benefits your productivity, so plan afternoons at the park or with a friend, take a 30 minute nap when you need it, or just get away from your desk for a coffee. Make sure you find a work-life balance. Speaking as someone who failed in this area, it pays off to practice this early.
Second, Say Hi! Find someone who is doing something similar to what you aim to do and introduce yourself. You’d be so surprised (or maybe not) how nice small business owners can be and how they’re willing to make time to give back to other entrepreneurs on the rise – we were in you’re shoes once! Having someone to occasional bounce ideas off of or troubleshoot is an invaluable resource. Just be careful of asking questions that are proprietary to their business and do not steal intellectual property from them (pricing, technique, sources ). You will burn that bridge.
Also, know the industry. Read blogs, look at magazines, go to stores that sell what you want to make. Go see what the competition is and make a battle plan. Keeping organized is key!
Q: Where is your favorite place you’ve ever traveled?A: Tokyo, Japan for sure. For me, Japan was like visiting another planet or parallel universe. Everything was so similar, but different. People were so nice, everything was designed so well and the streets were spotless! It has been by far the most inspiring, overwhelming, beautiful place I have ever been.
Q: What place/trip is #1 on your bucket list?
A: Thats tough- my goal before I die is to experience it all. I want to see every country, experience every culture and see the world. Japan was #1 on my bucket list, but as I’ve been there a few times, I would have to say South Korea or Germany. I’m most drawn to places that are rich in culture and tradition.
Q: What (if any) saying/mantra/belief do you live by?
A: “I Can and I Will.” Not sure where I picked this up, but it’s something that I say to myself many many times a day ( It’s to the point where i don’t even know I’m saying it sometimes ) but it’s always there to serve as a reminder that I am strong enough, I can do that task, I can overcome that obstacle and I will succeed.