Fabrice's 24 ways to make profit

Vinta-Quatre sells locally-branded T-shirts in the Dordogne, using the department’s number 24

28 September 2010

Fabrice Cellier moved to the Dordogne from Paris and set up Vinta-Quatre, selling locally-branded T-shirts using the department’s number 24 after the number was removed from car numberplates

What is your business and how long have you been trading?

Vinta-Quatre has been running for a year and a half. It is a clothing company specialising in the Dordogne, such as exists in other parts of France, for example Brittany and the Pays Basque. We want to create clothing that represents the department and presents it in a positive way.

Did you do the same trade before, either in France or abroad?

No, I was a teacher of English and American history in Paris.

Vinta-Quatre is my first attempt at being an entrepreneur.

When I arrived in the Dordogne, I quickly saw that there were not thousands of choices available to me: I had to go out and create something for myself. After a year of doing temporary seasonal work, the idea came to me.

What qualifications do you need?

I think you need personal qualities more than you need qualifications; you need to take a chance, show enthusiasm and put yourself into it.

But, on top of all that I needed a good graphic artist, Niko, and my wife, Cathy.

Now that the business is growing I can see the need for other business qualifications.

Why did you think it would work?

The Dordogne has a strong cultural identity, but still did not have a local single identity – Périgourdins would be wearing marque locale clothing from other parts of France such as Brive’s Otago
clothing or Pays Basque with the 64-branded clothing [for the Pyrénées-Atlantiques department 64].

I thought that people would go for a new image of the Dordogne: more dynamic and much more modern.

What type of business set-up are you – Sarl, auto-entrepreneur, etc – and do you have any employees?

I am an entreprise individuelle, as it was more flexible to start up as that than as a très petite entreprise.

I don’t yet have any employees, but I think that will change soon.

Is it your main income?

It is the only money coming in for my family, so yes.

I would say it is nearly impossible to start up a business while doing another job.

Would you be brave enough to tell us your income?

Vinta-Quatre has been in profit from the start, but we had to turn to my family to help us through the first year. Year One paid for the stock, and now that we have a shop in Périgueux, we are able to have about €3,000 a month for ourselves.

It is not a lot, but it is still only the start of Year Two and I think it is already going well.

The business is solid and we have no debts.

What has surprised you?

The enthusiasm of the Périgourdins. I was afraid I would be called an opportunist because I came from the town whose name must never be spoken: Paris. It’s funny.

However, at the end of it, Vinta-Quatre was quickly accepted and well accepted.

We even have clients who thank us for being here: it is very touching.

How do you market yourselves?

By thinking up our products and printing, embroidering and selling them in Périgord.

Our cloth comes from abroad, but even that is bought from a local wholesaler.

In spite of all that, we still manage to design, make and sell a product of very good quality that is probably one of the cheapest local brands in France.

Who is your market?

Périgourdins, of course! But we are also getting tourists who find our products more attractive and original than traditional tourist T-shirts.

I am also secretly hoping that, at some point, I will be able to extend some of the models in our range to our neighbouring departments

What was your biggest mistake and your biggest success?

I really don’t know; it has all happened so quickly and I have only been in the Dordogne for three years. Perhaps I’ll see my errors soon.

Our choice of the first graphics for the T-shirts was very good and, economically, taking the Périgueux shop perhaps saved the business, as it might not have survived winter if we had depended on sales that we were doing through other retailers.

Did you do a business plan?

My accountant drew up a business plan for me, but it really served no purpose.

The banks would not work with it (especially in textiles, as that means carrying lots of stock); in any case, we have almost doubled the turnover predicted by the business plan.

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