‘Don’t be scared to live your dreams’ - young Ilford entrepreneur

In July 2010, five young men tried to pitch a business idea for a new clothing line, but nobody took them seriously. A month later, they sat down and decided to start things through trial and error. The result is their own company, DECS AND LONDON, a new clothing line of polo tops, jumpers and t-shirts.

Stefan Mensah, 22, lives in Ilford. His business partners Eugene Suckram, 25; Dominic Vitali, 22, Christopher White, 28 and Amaan Butt, 23, who joined the business much later, live in Dalston.

The idea grew out of friendship between the young men. Stefan and Dominic both went to Kingston University where they studied business management. Dominic knew Christopher and Eugene. Stefan is also into music. He is known as D-Dark in the music industry and has made appearances on Choice FM and Radio One.

“It was a joint business idea between all of us,” says Eugene. “We wanted to do something constructive. There was a big stereotype with age and everything else, so when we approached people they weren’t really taking us seriously, but once we sat down to think of how to get the ball rolling they started to show interest.”

Thinking involved preparing a business plan and deciding what the project needed to achieve. It also entailed coming up with a name for the business. DECS is actually an acronym of the initials of the four founding business partners – Dominic, Eugene, Christopher and Stefan. London reflects the location of the business and their home town.

There was also the matter of finding a garment manufacturer. Things really got going in November 2010 when they approached several manufacturers in London, but found them too expensive. They eventually settled for Youngsun Knitwear, a specialised garment company in China.

So far, the business has been encouraging and there has been a lot of local support. Clients range from 14-year-olds to 40-year-olds.

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“I deal with the promotional side of things,” Stefan says.

He uses the t-shirts in his videos and also gets artists to wear them. The clothes are now in some local shops. The partners have visited local music festivals and schools.

Getting the message across to youngsters in similar circumstances is important.

“You can make a success of yourself even when it’s hard and it seems like it will never happen. As long as you don’t give up, anything is possible,” says Eugene. “Where we live, lots of young people are not motivated to do anything. Now they see us and we say to them they need to do something.”

Stefan adds: “If you have an idea, don’t be scared to live your dreams. As long as you can believe, you can make it happen, it doesn’t matter that other people do not believe. Just stay focused.”