Q&A with Fan Bi, Founder and CEO of Blank Label
If you try to rush to get to the destination too quickly, you’ll forget to enjoy the journey.
Fan Bi is the Founder and CEO of Blank Label, a custom men’s clothing brand with stores in Boston, Washington, Chicago and Atlanta.
11 Questions for Founder & CEO of Blank Label Fan Bi
Fan Bi has taken time out of his schedule to talk to AGENT about his business, his goals and work life balance
1. Briefly tell us how you first got into business, and describe your business goals.
Blank Label was started out of a need for myself and friends to find easily accessible, well-fitting dress shirts. I had worked with a tailor in Shanghai who had made me some custom clothing, and my friends kept on using me as a liaison to get them access. Today Blank Label is a fully fledged custom men’s clothing brand with stores in Boston, Washington (D.C.), Chicago and Atlanta. The plan is to continue opening locations as long as we see the demand.
2. What age were you when you realised you wanted to run your own business?
I grew up in a small business, my parents ran a small, fruit and vegetable store. The creativity, challenge and capitalism of it all was very attractive to me so I probably realised from a very young age that I wanted to do something similar.
3. Who are your business icons and inspirations?
Having grown up in a retail business, and now operating one myself, it’s hard not to be inspired by the great retail brands of our generation. Starbucks and Howard Schultz is probably top of the list just in their ability to stay on top for over 40 years.
4. What has been your biggest challenge in business, and how did you surmount it?
A retail business needs capital, and so capital raising has probably been the biggest challenge. And when you’re a smaller or younger enterprise, it’s often more about presenting the forward vision rather than the limited historical performance. It’s about finding true believers who can see how your industry will evolve the same way you do.
5. Work-Life balance: is it possible? How do you achieve it?
It’s only balanced if you love what you do. There are so many different functions of business that it’s hard to ever turn it off; is your team happy, how is cash flow, what’s the next store, is the supply chain steady, etc. But if you’re passionate about your business, you’re happy to think about the multitude of problems.
6. What is the first thing you do every day?
7. What screen saver picture is currently on your phone?
The default iPhone one, haven’t changed it.
8. What is the most important app on your mobile phone, and why?
Phone. I still like to talk to people. I check email like everyone else, but I try not to check it habitually on my phone. If someone needs me for something, they’ll know to call me.
9. What is the last thing you googled?
I Google things all the time just because I’m curious to find random facts. Last thing I Googled was NFL overtime rules.
10. What item do you never leave the house without, and why?
Keys. Sounds boring but it’s the only item I’ll always have, over wallet or phone.
11. What advice would you give to your younger self starting out in business?
It’s a marathon, which sometimes include some short sprints, but be patient and try to think about the long term. If you try to rush to get to the destination too quickly, you’ll forget to enjoy the journey.