Customer stories

Perfect Circle: from small business to international success in under two years

Explore Keaton Ennis' inspiring entrepreneurial journey, scaling his vintage clothing business from Wellington to the world. Plus, read his top five tips for new business owners.

Reading time: 4 minutes

Building a business idea

In the world of vintage fashion, Keaton's story is one of determination and vision. It all started in 2018 when a trip to the United States with his best friend Noah, introduced him to the world of vintage clothing. Inspired by the quality and uniqueness of pieces he found, Keaton returned to New Zealand and began selling items from his own collection. 

By 2019, Keaton's passion had evolved into a business venture. A trip to Utah helped him establish connections with vintage sellers, laying the foundation for what would become Perfect Circle. With Noah by his side, they started sourcing vintage clothing, which they shipped back to New Zealand for resale.

Despite the challenges of the pandemic in 2020, Keaton and Noah persevered. They continued to grow their business, selling through platforms like Facebook Marketplace and wholesaling to other vintage sellers in New Zealand. By 2021, Keaton recognised a growing opportunity in the market and decided to go all-in. 

In 2022, Keaton took the leap – he quit his job as a teacher to focus on his dream full-time and founded Perfect Circle.

His brother, Finlay, suggested the name “Perfect Circle” as the business stood for the continuous reuse of clothing and was based on Keaton’s commitment to sustainability and reducing waste.

“I’ve always been very passionate about the environment and Perfect Circle is a way to encourage people to move away from buying new and reduce the amount of clothes going into landfill,” says Keaton.

Finding the right premises

Drawing inspiration from travels to the US and Japan, he started making plans to open a physical store in New Zealand. He spent a lot of time creating a business plan, trying to learn about the industry as well as expanding his network of suppliers.  

The following year saw the opening of Perfect Circle's first store in Wellington on Vivian Street. “It wasn’t the ideal location, next to the highway, but the business took off and we saw some great sales results straight away.” 

Despite initial success, Keaton was determined to find the perfect location. Within five months, he signed a new lease in a great location on Cuba Street.

Only a month after opening at Cuba Street, he launched their online store, selling internationally, and opened a pop-up store in Newmarket in Auckland.

Shortly after that, Keaton was able to hire his first full-time staff: “Hiring my first full timer was one of the main priorities in my business plan. This meant I was able to step away from the store and grow other areas of the business.”

Keaton’s top tips for people starting a business

  1. You won’t have everything perfect from the start and that’s OK. 
  2. Prioritise long-term relationships rather than short-term ones. 
  3. The first year is the hardest. When you start, you might make some mistakes and you also have a lot of set up costs, but hang in there! 
  4. Focus on getting the business right and grow later. Get the business in a strong position first, set up your blueprint, and then think about scaling up. 
  5. Think outside of New Zealand as there are lots of opportunities to grow overseas as well.

Winning over customers

Now, in 2024, Perfect Circle continues to thrive. Keaton's dedication to sustainability and the high quality of his products has struck a chord with customers, and he's set his sights on further expansion, with plans to open locations in the US and Europe.

From humble beginnings to a flourishing business, Keaton's journey is a testament to the power of passion and perseverance in the world of small business. As Perfect Circle continues to grow, Keaton's story serves as inspiration for aspiring entrepreneurs everywhere. With a simple idea and a lot of hard work, anything is possible.

Starting a business

There is a lot to think about when starting a business, this video runs you through some of the things you can start checking off to get yourself open for business.

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