By Brandon Gillet
Telfer graduate Nathon Kong has reshaped the tailoring experience. The Nathon Kong brand began with his “Tailor2Go” concept, a shop in a truck that he drives around to customers’ offices in Montreal, to fit them for bespoke clothing on their lunch break.
Kong’s solar-powered truck contains a 3D scanner that takes 360-degree body measurements in just five seconds. Customers select from a variety of options such as fabric, cut and collar style. Shirts or suits are then custom-made by professional tailors in China, as opposed to in a factory or sweatshop.
In addition, materials used are not pre-cut with need for adjustments, as with many other tailoring services. The result is a personalized suit made with less waste, and at a lower cost than other high-end tailors, Kong says.
Now, his business is also about to put down roots. In the next few months, he plans to expand by opening a stationary showroom featuring the same technology in the heart of downtown Montreal. The truck will still operate, along with its bricks and mortar counterpart.
Kong decided the time was right to try his hand at starting his own business after a restructuring at a corporate job.
“I did my undergrad degree in science and worked in health care at hospitals while I did my MBA, so it’s difficult for me to say I always wanted to be a suit maker,” he says. “What I am passionate about is making my friends and people close to me happy, so I want to be impactful in whatever I do.”
The Tailor2Go concept has certainly made a splash, helping him “make some noise and get my name established,” Kong says. He has appeared on CBC’s Dragons’ Den and won nine national and international entrepreneurship awards.
The business broke even in the first year, and Kong expects revenue to double this year. As an example of how well his customers like the concept, he mentions a recent positive email from former Quebec premier Jean Charest, who was recently fitted for his first Nathon Kong suit.
Kong credits his uOttawa MBA with helping him realize his entrepreneurial potential — including the imminent launch of his own personal brand.
“You don’t need a degree to start a business, but mine helped me gain confidence and credibility,” he says. “Entrepreneurship is definitely not for everyone — but everyone should give it a try! I’ve learned more in the past two years as a business owner than I did in the previous 12 years of my professional life.
“The hardest thing about starting a business is that there will be a lot of doubters and in the end it becomes about having confidence in yourself.”