Living Entrepreneurship Blog / Babson Entrepreneurs

Working in the Hatchery

Jack Rokous ’19, founder of Roko Design & Apparel Co.

The following post is from Jack Rokous ’19, founder of Roko Design & Apparel Co., a spring 2017 hatchery business. Roko is a hand designed apparel company.

The undergraduate hatchery space has been a game-changer for my business and myself. After running my clothing brand out of my dorm room, and then eTower’s conference room when I could no longer fit my machines and everything in my room, the hatchery space has been an incredible upgrade. I cannot stress enough the importance of a physical separation between the spaces in which you do work you’re truly passionate about from the spaces you live and/or do schoolwork in. This separation will allow you so much peace of mind, and the ability to sit down and grind without any distractions when necessary.

After taking a course at Olin last spring which focused on the intentional design of “makerspaces” to maximize productivity and one’s ability to experiment with different processes, it was a blessing to be able to utilize that knowledge to design the setup of my very own workshop/studio. I managed to fit in my computerized vinyl cutting machine, heat press, sewing/embroidery machine, computer monitor, 2 clothing racks, all of my inventory and supplies, and a Babson-provided provided work table, desk, and an IKEA supplies organizer. The flow of my production process looked something like this, starting with “1” at my desk and revolving clockwise:

  1. Desk for design work on computer/paper
  2. Inventory boxes of blank shirts, etc.
  3. Vinyl supplies inventory
  4. Computertized vinyl cutter station
  5. Heat press station for applying graphics to shirts, etc.
  6. Finished product packaging and shipping preparation station.

In terms of business advice, I suppose the most concise and relevant tidbit I have to offer is just to do something you really care about, and go all in. Trust that your passion and persistence will lead to great work that reflects your potential, but never let yourself feel fully satisfied with what you’re putting out into the world. It is absolutely necessary to be satisfied with yourself as a person, but never allow yourself to sit back and rest on your laurels when you could be developing your concept or style. Complacency kills, especially in the creative realm. If your business is a passionate pursuit, accept that sometimes your work will take precedence over your academic studies. I’m more than guilty of doing so when I feel like onto something or I’m overwhelmed by orders, and I have no regrets whatsoever. Also, don’t be afraid to reach out for help or feedback on projects or basic conceptual ideas. Always follow your gut instincts, but listen deeply to the reactions and suggestions that you get because the people at Babson are amazing and probably have the most relevant criticisms or praise for what you’re doing. Another big thing is to look for work or internship experience within your industry. Seeing how established brands or companies successfully do what they do is infinitely valuable if you’re thinking about starting up or are looking for new directions to take in your venture. Though you may feel like you’re supposed to always be grinding, always closing sales, always doing something, you absolutely must make “you” time. Read a book, meditate, go for a run, maybe listen to some jazz. Whatever it is, if you don’t take time to just recharge yourself and chill, your flame will burn out and the losses will be far greater than that of any time spent relaxing.

Above all else, never give up!