Jumping into entrepreneurship with both feet

Capilano University Business and IDEA graduates collaborate on a new business that takes weatherproof gear to the next level.

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Tag(s): Alumni, Business & Professional Studies, Fine & Applied Arts

Capilano University Business and IDEA graduates collaborate on a new business that takes weatherproof gear to the next level

After graduating from Capilano University, Mike Cerka and Tyler Quarles were each working hard to establish themselves in their respective fields: business and graphic design. As longtime friends and roommates, they always had a glimpse into what the other was doing workwise, but being in different programs they hadn't yet had the opportunity to work together. Cerka has a Bachelor of Business Administration, while Quarles is a graduate of the IDEA School of Design.

That all changed when Cerka started looking for a new raincoat to go along with his new job at a Yaletown start-up. After three months, Cerka had yet to find a style he liked, and the two realized there was a lack of stylish, yet functional dry wear options in one of the rainiest cities in the world. They began researching how to design a coat that would fill the gap they discovered in the market.

It took about two years from that first moment of noticing the potential need for this kind of product, to where we are today, having jumped in with both feet, explains Quarles.

Without much knowledge about manufacturing fashion apparel to begin with, the two had to start from scratch and learn everything they could about the process. 

“Sourcing materials, researching new button technologies, things like that – it’s fascinating,” Quarles says.

The pair credit their first year at Capilano University as being the catalyst that sparked their drive to their respected fields of interest.

“The teachers at Cap were fantastic mentors,” says Cerka. “I know I personally developed some lasting relationships that have been supportive to my career. I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do coming out of high school, and they really helped me identify my strengths.”

Quarles adds: “There was a great camaraderie at Cap. The University really supports those who value a hands-on education.”

Their line of stylish weatherproof jackets, Baro™, was officially launched in stores in 2016 and is already gaining a niche following and rave reviews, making “Best Raincoat” lists in media publications throughout North America. Their business plan is to grow slowly and organically, creating a community-like following and distributing only through companies that are a natural fit for their strong, unique brand.

Their advice for budding entrepreneurs who are considering taking their ideas to the next step?

“Just start!” Cerka says. “Having knowledge is great but if you don’t know something, don’t hesitate to hire a professional to help you out.”

“And don’t wait,” adds Quarles. “Six years down the road, you’re still going to make mistakes. Analysis paralysis will only make you regret not taking the leap. It’s like bungee jumping. The people you surround yourself with are your rope. Build your community right. They could be outside your wheelhouse, so don’t hesitate to connect with people in other fields. Also, you probably know more than you think you do. Once you break down each process, you’ll discover all of the transferable skills you possess, and you just get it done.”

For now, the Baro team is busy building their brand through their inaugural year. You can check them out at barodrywear.com or follow them on Twitter (@BaroDrywear).

Submitted by: Sarah Coull, Communications & Marketing