By - Alina Fridman
Morgan Oughton was living in NYC and designing for a corporate fashion company when she first tried scuba diving while on vacation in the Bahamas. Morgan had no idea that it would change her life forever.
After 20 minutes in 20ft of water, a very jaded New Yorker was left speechless. From then on Morgan started dreaming underwater. It still took her a few years to get up the courage to pursue diving as her life's passion. In 2016 she sold all of her possessions and left her career to travel to beautiful destinations and complete her instructor training. Now Morgan has worked all over the world teaching and taking underwater pictures of animals for a living, quite literally a dream come true.
Spacefish Army is the intersection of Morgan's passions. Fashion that showcases the beauty of the underwater world and all it's wondrous inhabitants while helping to protect them by donating a portion of their profits to ocean conservation projects.
We dove into a quick Q&A session with Morgan Oughton to get to know a little more about her life and passion under the sea.
Tell us what inspired you to begin your entrepreneurial journey.
When I became a scuba instructor, a predominantly male industry, I couldn't help but notice the lack of fun quality garments for women. Divers travel around the world to dive, its their vacation and passion, and they want to look good doing it! I started with only making a few leggings for myself, but I couldn't go anywhere without someone wanting to know where I got them. The dive shop I was working for wanted to start selling them, so it just snowballed from there.
What impact do you want to have in the world or change you want to see or make happen?
Our products are conversation pieces. I believe that showcasing the beauty of the ocean, especially the animals, can make people care more about it. I've also been working on switching all of our products to recycled polyester and we donate to Ocean Conservation efforts, as well.
Who is your cheerleader that encourages and inspires you?
My sister took over a business a few years ago in another male dominated industry, car repair. Although our businesses are nothing alike, she has inspired me and helped keep me going through the tough times of entrepreneurship.
What keeps you motivated?
I work on liveaboard dive yachts around the world, giving me access to my exact clientele on a daily basis. I not only get to test wear my clothes every day, but have constant feedback from customers coming from around the world and that keeps me motivated knowing I am making products that people really want.
What was the most difficult think about building a brand from scratch?
Exposure and Logistics. My only proven way to get people interested in our products is face to face interaction. The internet is a hard place to be noticed, even when offering a niche product and cold calling and emailing has yielded no success for me.
How do you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
My extensive experience in both design and scuba gives me an advantage to capture the market and make it more fun while remaining functional to the sport. I have seen all the well-established scuba brands keep to their bland functional approach and I have seen a few other people start similar companies in the last few years that are all trying to mimic each other designs instead of creating something new.
What advice would you give someone who is interested in starting their own business?
Know your strengths and weaknesses and try to find a partner that compliments yours.
What habits do you practice that make you success?
I think you need to be relentless and adaptable. It's really easy to lose focus or lose motivation, but its a constant learning experience and you have to be up to learn things you never wanted to.
What type of mindset do you have?
You have to take calculated risks to succeed at anything. Do your research, but make the leaps you have to in order to move forward.
What was your biggest mistake as an entrepreneur?
Underestimating how much I would need to learn about business logistics.
What did you learn fro your mistake?
I learned to do as much research as possible and not to be too trusting. I also learned to follow my gut instincts.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Take a business and marketing course.
What advice would you give someone else who is looking to start their own business?
I constantly read and learn, but honestly it's all things I wish I didn't have to know about or do. I am still networking looking for a partner that could take over some of the responsibilities that I have now.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Ask for help when you need it.
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