EWSA on the rise
How one student's small business spread across the world.
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“Earth, wind, snow, and air. They’re the four main action sport categories.”
“EWSA”, otherwise known as Earth, wind, snow, and air, is the start-up company founded by senior Cole Fournier. The clothing company sells clothing mainly targeted at a teenage audience. EWSA sells products such as baseball shirts or sunglasses, however they can be worn by people of all ages. Fournier says he didn’t always envision a clothing company. It started with an Instagram account.
“I got the idea for this company because I run an Instagram account called [email protected] that has 35,000 followers, and companies would always contact me to do business with them and promote their companies,” said Fournier. “So, I decided to start my own and make money off of my own Instagram.”
This Instagram account posts different snowboarding pictures, as well as promotes snowboarding gear. Fournier began his Instagram account two years ago while trying to find an Instagram account that solely focused on snowboarding, but was disappointed when none came up. So, like a true entrepreneur, he started his own.
“Back in sophomore year, I was trying to follow snowboarding accounts [on Instagram,] but there wasn’t any. So, I created my own, and then over a year, I gained 1,000 followers; I thought that was so cool. Now I’m at 35,000, and gaining 20,000 every eight months.”
As for the advertising side of this business, Fournier promotes any company that offers free merchandise, or even sometimes money.
“They [the companies] would pay me through PayPal, and I would post an advertisement for them, promoting whatever they like to sell,” said Fournier. “I got free merchandise, or just money in general.”
These promotions sparked an idea for Fournier – why not make a business of his own? And so he did. According to Fournier, the site was up and running to his satisfaction after a total of around three months.
“I was planning on it all throughout the summer, but I never really had the motivation to do it,” said Fournier. “Now I’m just like, ‘Let’s do it.’ It probably took about a month and a half to two months [to set up the website]. But overall, [it took] probably three months after creating my name, getting all my clothes, creating the website, and doing everything like that.”
Fournier officially launched the business on October 8th of 2016, the night of Homecoming. However, tweaks were made to perfect the small business, with the help of Fournier’s parents, Sheryl and Dennis Fournier, who help him make adjustments to the company.
“We’re definitely involved,” said his mom. “He’s kind of talked through the whole process. He definitely makes his own decisions, but he says, ‘What do you think about this?’ ‘How should I do this?’ Then we give him ideas based off of other businesses that we’ve had, or just experience.”
Being that the Fourniers have managed and owned several small businesses, they certainly knew how to help Cole with the marketing and management for EWSA.
“We’re able to know what people might like, or marketing pieces, but most of it has been business,” said his mom. “Like, how to go about setting up a tax I.D. number, or talking to the accountants – we’ve done a lot of that stuff.”
Cole plans on pursuing entrepreneurship in college, and sees this as a step closer to his future potential in the industry.
“I’m going to college for entrepreneurship, so I thought it’d be cool to experience it before I actually go into college,” said Cole. “Entrepreneurship is starting your own business, so I already kind of know more than some people going into it, because I have started my own business and have gone through the entire process of starting everything up.”
This process took several weeks of trial and error, as many companies do. Some issues Cole faced were pricing, shipping costs, and finding help with how to keep his merchandise stocked without losing money.
“At first, there was a lot of money issues because it’s pretty expensive,” said Cole. “But then, I found this tool called ‘Printful’ that kind of keeps the shirts in stock for you, so you never have to buy them until someone else buys it from the website.”
With ‘Printful,’ Cole gives them his design and shirt, and this connects to his store. If someone buys a shirt, ‘Printful’ will make the shirt and then they’ll ship it out. This way, Cole never has to buy it in stock. Cole also uses a tool called ‘Shopify,’ which helps him understand what type of audience he’s reaching to.
“He learned, in the process, what the business account can show him,” said his mom. “His ‘Shopify’ that he goes through shows you where it’s coming from, like whether it’s a desktop or a laptop, or an iPhone, or what country it’s from. It can even break down into towns.”
Cole’s top five countries that he’s selling to are the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, and Canada. However, his top cities are Moscow, Santiago, New York, London, and Toronto. Fournier’s first customer even came from Sydney, Australia.
“It just makes you think, it’s not just this little town in Biddeford,” his mom said.
While Cole is unsure of how much his income is at the moment, he knows that the shirts are becoming more and more popular around this little town. Senior Patrick Pearl enjoys the clothing and the quality of the clothes.
Pearl also helps Cole with the marketing for “EWSA.” Before the launch of the site, Pearl and Cole spent a day walking through the mills in downtown Biddeford as background for their promotional photoshoot, alongside seniors Gaby Bermeo and Faith Tourigny, and as well as junior Andrew Plante.
“Cole and I have a class together, and he knows that I’m into photography, so he asked me if I wanted to take pictures one day,” said Pearl. “It was pretty laid back, just walking around the mills. We thought it [the mills] was kind of an urban place that you can take some cool pictures.”
Cole believes this was the moment that the website became “real” to him.
“That was before we launched it, but that was the first time that I was like, ‘Oh my God, we’re putting this all together, and that the site’s going to happen,’” Cole said.
Since then, Cole has become more accustomed to seeing his apparel being worn around school, however still feels surprised whenever he sees his clothes in the halls.
“I have seen it [my clothes] a couple of times around school, and it is pretty weird,” said Cole. “But I think it’s kind of cool. It’s pretty exciting; I don’t know, it’s something I created, and now they’re wearing it.”
As for the future of his entrepreneurship, Cole hopes to venture further into the snowboarding business.
“He’s been talking about this for at least four years,” said his mom. “He was going to have a snowboard shop, and then he talked about a friend of his putting designs on boards. His thought process always was he was going to go to school in Colorado to learn to have his own snowboard shop.”
This snowboard shop may turn into a snowboarding clothing business or website, says Cole.
“I plan on making a business with goggles and other types of snowboarding things as well,” said Cole. “I’d like to get more into snowboarding type of things, like snowboarding, goggles, jackets, or gloves. Overall, my goal is to have a snowboarding company.”
With “EWSA” on the rise, Cole sees this goal becoming more and more real.