Andy Jordan – Blurred Lines
Take a 60-minute drive beyond our ancient city walls, to wander the winding streets of Salcombe and you’ll find a wealth of new, small businesses that are steeped in both tradition & roots.
JAM Industries; a clothes brand that blurs the lines between city and beach, is one of a number of businesses popping up in this stunning little town, nestled on the banks of the River Dart.
I caught up with Andy Jordan; a co-founder and the designer behind JAM, to learn that sometimes, less really is more and that the foundations of any great business always lie with its team.
So, Andy the last few years have been exciting, to say the least; your new clothing line, JAM is doing fantastically well.
As you say, JAM is doing really well; we’ve been going for 5 years now with the two stores in Salcombe and Padstow. We’ve literally just closed a pop-up shop in London; we originally opened it for 6 weeks but that turned into 6 months with my brother and I tag teaming the running. It was doing enough to justify opening, but we’ve come to the end of the line there now. We’ll go back in the Autumn for sure, but right now it’s all about the Summer and the beach; we’re focusing on the stores and life in Salcombe and Padstow and we’re doing what we love.
You founded JAM with your brother Mark and your mum; I know the business is rooted in memories of time spent as a family on the beach. Tell me a little about the brand and how things got started.
So essentially, we’re a lifestyle clothing brand; bridging the gap between beach and city. As a family, we spend a lot of time going back and forth between our home in Salcombe and London and so we wanted to create a brand and a business that sat nicely in the middle. Some people spend their whole life working towards retiring to somewhere like Salcombe, but we spun that on its head and decided to work our whole lives here to enjoy life now.
I like it. Who says life has to be a struggle?
To be honest, I think that life is a struggle. The difference in mentality is that you can flip that struggle on its head and make it an enjoyable one. A struggle is a good thing.
If you’ve ever run a marathon (which I haven’t, for the record, but my brother has), you’ll know that it’s just about getting your head down and getting the job done. Anyone who has run one will tell you it’s a struggle, especially when you hit the wall at 22 miles. You don’t stop running then though; you keep going until you get to the finish line. It may have hurt like hell, but a week later you’re ready to do another one; that feeling of achievement and success will always outweigh the pain.
What does success mean to you, Andy?
To me, success is about getting to the end of each day and no matter how knackered I am, feeling good about what I’ve achieved that day. I may have achieved something, or I may have achieved nothing, but knowing I’ve put in a good effort is what matters.
And what about the bigger picture? How do you plan for that?
At JAM we create five-year plans; it’s something that we do at the start of each year. We’ll sit down, and we’ll create a new plan which will usually have changed from the previous year because different things would have come into play.
Our main focus is to grow a business online and back it with 5 stores; a business that will still be here in 80 years’ time. Online growth can be as big as the sky, but the key is to take it slow and steady.
And the other thing is to vocalise your dreams; don’t keep them hidden away. When you vocalise and discuss your dreams, you’re almost creating a subconscious pressure to achieve them. And it doesn’t matter if you don’t do it in a specific timeframe; they can be dangerous and de-rail you if you’re not careful.
I agree. I think that people can often over overestimate what they can achieve in a year, but underestimate what they can do in 5 years.
Very true. The thing is, we genuinely don’t know what’s going to happen next. We don’t know what the implications of Brexit will be right now. We don’t know whether there’s going to be a Tory or Labour government and we don’t know if there’s going to be a change in the tax law that might cut £20k and a salary off our books. We just don’t know these things and so all we can do is continue to exist as a family and focus on the year in hand. There will always be highs and lows but if you stick together, you just might survive.
And when you do when you hit a bump in the road, how do you handle it?
Stuff will happen. Lemons will get thrown. There’s no avoiding it. But, when they come at you, you just catch them and turn them into a Gin n’ Tonic. Mix it up if you want to, just make sure you make something good out of them. And make sure you have a great team around you too!
Tell me a little about your team and how you all fit together?
At the end of the day, we’re a tiny company at the moment. There are just five of us; myself, mum, my brother Mark, Anna in Salcombe and Jake in Padstow. We make sure that everyone understands where we’re going and what the plan is. When it comes to Jake and Anna who run the two stores, their roles are as big as they want to make them. I like the idea of giving them the freedom to create opportunities.
Jake, for example, is going to Madrid this month. He’s an amazing skateboarder and he’s doing a whole feature for JAM on his trip. When he first started working for us, he never saw himself as being a content creator; he thought he was coming in to interview for a sales assistant role, but he’s now the manager of the store, he’s creating content and he’s getting to live the brand out there in the wider world.
And isn’t that it; if you love your work, if it aligns with who you are, then by default you become the brand and opportunities will arise.
Exactly. Anna also wants to go traveling in the new year. We’ll facilitate that for her and she’ll use it as a PR opportunity for the brand.
We want to empower our staff; we want to grow a big business, with a solid platform, that employs lots of people and that means valuing your staff and giving them opportunities.
We’re not after a chain of stores though and that’s a challenge; staying small in our number of stores, retaining integrity & yet growing as a whole.
I get the impression that JAM is more than a clothes brand; that it’s about the lifestyle and choosing to embrace it.
Damn right. We’re so much more than just a T-shirt; we’re involved in a lifestyle and we want to people be part of that lifestyle.
We’re making timeless, classic designs that work as well for him as for her. The business is built around memories of spending time on the beach as a family, with me sharing a jumper with my sister because she’s got cold, or I’ve been in the sea and I’ve got cold. It’s that comfy, relaxed but also high-quality lifestyle. It’s an affordable luxury, using really good quality material and then making it as cheap as humanly possible.
What’s been the biggest challenge along the way for you? Have you had moments where the try line felt that little bit too far away?
Yes. And to be honest, the biggest challenge is living. When you start out, you don’t actually make any money and it can be really hard to buy food even; you literally do go on that can of beans diet. Before you know it, it starts eating away at your soul and you’re asking questions as to why you’re working nonstop all day but can’t even buy a beer at the end of it.
But then, when you do break through that ceiling and you get to the point where you can pay yourself, that’s when everything accelerates.
And now life feels good?
My brother Mark and I have been lucky in our lives; we’ve traveled all over the world and we’ve been to a lot of nice places. But honestly, you can’t beat the South West; I think our coastline is exceptional and I’ve never seen anywhere else in the world like it. Salcombe, in particular, is a hidden dream that the rest of the world don’t know about. It’s actually great that we’ve got really bad roads getting in here because it puts a few people off coming!
To me wealth means satisfaction and health; that’s a hard lesson to learn, but everyone will learn it at some point. When you get that bit sorted, life will feel good.
Andy, let’s jump back a little to your Uni days and talk education. Both you and your brother went to University; what’s your take on the Uni route as opposed to an apprenticeship?
Mark and I both studied geography which has absolutely nothing to do with what we do now and, to be honest, I messed around a lot. Personally, I think
University is overrated, hence I believe in taking on a young team with passion and giving them big, responsible jobs.
But it’s also a very subjective thing. For some people University is the right path; it’s the best thing for them and it’s a great time to grow into yourself. I’m 29 now and I only really worked out who I was when I was 26 or 27. So perhaps whilst I didn’t see an academic benefit to my life, it was probably a time where I grew, subconsciously, within myself.
But you ended up doing something you love anyway.
Yes, but when we first started JAM, we had absolutely no idea what we were; only what we loved doing. It was only with time and commitment, that things started falling into place and we got a plan together.
There have been problems along the way; of course there have. But with every problem comes a solution and with every solution comes growth.
And a final word?
As simple as it sounds, if you’re going to fall off a horse, it’s better to fall off a small horse than a big one. So start something. If you try and you fail, you’ll learn. If you try and succeed, then you’ll succeed. But if you don’t start, you’ll never know.
Follow JAM @jamindustries01 and also check out their site at www.jam-industries.co.uk
Written by Tracey Duke, Photography supplied by JAM Industries and Pablo Prieto