Turning a passion into a business: An interview with Generation Next member The Adventure Patch Company

Posted by: JasmineThompson
Posted on: 13/09/2022

Over the past few years, we have seen a “wave of entrepreneurialism” in the UK. An accelerated digitalisation has given entrepreneurs the opportunity to access online platforms, such as Instagram Shop and Etsy, which enables them to easily sell products and services.

But what does it take to found a business? Jasmine Thompson checks in with Generation Next member Dominic Lee to get the full story of his journey to founding The Adventure Patch Company.

Describe your journey to founding your company, your role within it and the services it offers.

The Adventure Patch Company is a small business based in the East Midlands, run by me and my brother, Chris. We create hiking patches celebrating the UK’s best-loved hills, mountains, national parks and outdoor challenges.

Having grown up hiking in Snowdonia, the Lake District, Peak District and Scotland, Chris and I were inspired to setup The Adventure Patch Company in 2017 after searching (in vain) for a patch to celebrate climbing our first Alpine 4000er, Gran Paradiso in Italy.

Unperturbed by the lack of quality mountain patches on the market, we decided to produce our own – marking the start of a new adventure!

Chris is responsible for all design work and I focus on the operations side, including customer service, order fulfilment and business development. As small business owners will understand, I find myself having to learn new things most days!

What highlights and challenges have you faced while creating the business?

We have steadily grown The Adventure Patch Company over the past few years and been fortunate enough to establish good relationships with a number of great brands such as Ordnance Survey and Harvey Maps.

It was a fantastic feeling when we partnered with our first retailer and saw our patches on display in their store. I can remember pavement pounding with Chris in the Lake District calling in on different retailers that we wanted to work with – it felt like a challenge from The Apprentice!

Chris and I both still have busy day jobs and balancing various commitments can be a challenge. What started as a small “side hustle” is becoming a much more sustainable business. This means working on the business in the evenings and at the weekends.

What skills/qualifications/experience have you found the most useful when building the business?

Building the business has taken perseverance – there were times in the early days when growth was slow as we simply didn’t have the cash to invest in new patches and product lines.

It has been really important to develop positive relationships with other business owners within our industry and this is something we take very seriously. We now have a network of more than 30 retail partners from North Wales, to the Isle of Skye and Castleton.

Fortunately, Chris has a real eye for design. His graphic design skills combined with our passion for the outdoors is the bedrock of the business. Creating the patches really is a labour of love!

What support have you received along the way and how has it been valuable to you?

We reached out quite early on in our journey to other small business owners. We found that through collaborating with other brands you’d often learn something new. There is also a wealth of support online for anyone running their own business. From guides on the likes of Etsy and Shopify, to “how to” videos on YouTube.

What does “entrepreneurship” mean to you?

To me, entrepreneurship is having a vision – whether that be a new product, service, charity, invention or performance – and making it become a reality. Having a new idea is only the first step, actually being able to carry it through is a different kettle of fish!

What advice would you give others looking to start their own business?

If you can find something you are genuinely passionate about, in my experience, that makes starting a new business much more achievable.

Making the start is the hard part so we started small. When we first launched The Adventure Patch Company in 2017, we started with one patch in Snowdon, North Wales and listed it for sale on eBay. To our surprise, we sold one and things just went from there.

Share this post