“We never intended on starting a business; it just sort of happened.”
– Daniel Phillips
written by Jasmine Hon
Meghan Kraft once came up with an idea to print one of her boyfriend Daniel Philips’ graphic designs on a t-shirt as a present for him. Fast-forward one and a half years later and the demand for that shirt grew from one to ten to fifty and now hundreds.
Daniel and Meghan are now the founders of a blooming business, as dpms. has sold hundreds of shirts all across Ontario, including at events like Foodfest, Ribfest, Block party, Western’s Biz Inc. pop shop, Digital Dreams, Veld, and Manifesto. “When we were in Toronto, I saw a guy wearing a shirt with our design walk past us,” said Meghan, “and I had to ask Daniel to double-check to see if that was really our shirt to realize that this was really happening.”
Daniel and Meghan are both still full-time students. Studying her Bachelor of Science, Meghan uses the knowledge and skills she learns in that field to formulate all-natural hair and skin products for dpms. “I hated first-year chemistry,” laughed Meghan, “I can’t believe I’m actually using pipettes again, experimenting with different ingredients to create different products.” Not only are dpms. apothecary products affordable, but they are also of great quality, as Meghan carefully researches every ingredient before using it. dpms. also plants a tree for every apothecary product sold with the help of Hummingbird Homestead and Reforest London.
Daniel and Meghan never intended on starting a business. They just did what they do best – designing beaded bracelets and personalizing their clothes – and people saw this and wanted to partake in it. During their interview, Daniel and Meghan realized that they never had to explicitly ask for help; “it just came naturally to us. The community has been so favourable to us,” said Daniel with a smile.
Daniel and Meghan often receive compliments on their bracelets while out in the city, and on many occasions people even want to purchase a few at that very moment. “I got tired of having to sell my favourite bracelets on my wrist,” laughed Daniel, “so now I just keep a few in my jacket pocket just in case.” Meghan added with a laugh, “Sometimes we even get free drinks at the bar for our beads.”
Due to dpms.’ huge growth over the last year, the founders have been drafting a solid business plan over the holiday break, with future plans including a mobile fashion truck to sell their products coast-to-coast next summer. As their business grows, however, these two entrepreneurs want to focus on building a brand that is purely Canadian. They source most of their materials locally, and sell their products at the Western Fair Market. “Since we go to the farmers market every weekend anyways,” said Daniel, “we thought to ourselves, ‘why aren’t we vending there too?’” They opened their new permanent booth at the Western Fair Market on January 18th of this year. Daniel and Meghan are also passionate about great customer service and are able to personally customize each customer’s bracelet due to their company’s small size.
London’s bursting startup scene allows for small businesses to get recognized for their work. Because of the city’s high unemployment rate, Meghan describes how it is now “like the medieval times, when everyone had a trade. If you can’t find what you want, then just make it.”
As a university student completing her first year of studies, I am deeply inspired by how Daniel and Meghan are running such an amazing business together while still in school. I am also impressed by all the support the London community has shown to them. Daniel and Meghan’s advice to student entrepreneurs is that it is never too early to have good business relationships. dpms is a growing business that demonstrates how support will naturally follow those who are passionate about their work, as people are more willing to help entrepreneurs who dedicate and pour their heart into pursuing their calling.
Jasmine Hon is a first-year student studying Media, Information and Technoculture (MIT) at Western University with Advanced Entry Opportunity (AEO) to the Richard Ivey School of Business. While her interests lie within the fields of journalism and business, she is uncertain as to the kind of career she’d like to pursue in the future. For now, Jasmine is just greatly inspired by the entrepreneurs she’s met to continue working hard and discovering more about her passions. In her spare time, this eighteen-year-old is often spotted exploring the city of London, visiting the farmer’s market, or tapping away furiously on her laptop in various coffee shops around the city.”