Life as a director of a wholesale fashion company: Wasim's story

Meet Wasim, 26, from east London. He is a director of Upper Class Fashions Ltd, a leather goods company. Part of our Bitesize world of work series.

Wasim in the shop, smiling at the camera.
"I started looking into the family business and I fell in love with it."

What is your job?

We are a wholesaler and part retailer of leather goods, such as leather jackets and leather accessories. We also have a factory in our warehouse, where we make bespoke items. My main job role is to oversee the buying and selling of our jackets but sometimes, when we’re short-handed, I go out and pack the jackets – it’s whatever is needed really. It’s also an online business, so there’s that aspect to it as well.

What do you do day-to-day?

I buy all of the materials, and all of the zips and hardware that we need to make the jackets, as well as managing the team. I have a lot of meetings. Sometimes meetings are on our doorstep, which is nice. Sometimes I go to Europe, Asia or South America for meetings, so there is a lot of travelling. I also spend a lot of time doing market research, because the market changes so much. We need to make sure we’ve got the correct styling. If I do get spare time, I like to stand on the shop floor and help customers, which I really enjoy.

What did you study in school?

I studied Accounts at A-level. When our accountant sends over the books, it gives me a better understanding of how to read them. I also do day-to-day bookkeeping. Business Studies has helped me with techniques, such as quality management and marketing skills. After I finished A-levels, I had to have surgery on my back, so I decided to take a gap year. I had a lot of thinking after the surgery. I got offers from some universities, but I decided to give uni a miss, because I thought I’d eventually work here. I thought I might as well get a head start.

What skills do you use in your work?

The main one is general computing skills, including Photoshop to edit the photos for our website and catalogues. I also use marketing software on a day-to-day basis. Being multilingual is vital in our business. I have learnt Spanish and Urdu. Good communication with our global customers and suppliers is key. I’ve also learnt strong management and leadership skills, and time management skills.

Wasim and his colleagues, looking at one of their products – a brown leather bag.
Wasim helps with visual merchandising in the store to make it look attractive to customers.

How did you get into this job?

Being a family business, I had an inkling I would end up here and be part of the business. As I was getting better after my back surgery, I started looking into the family business and I fell in love with it. My father started this business in the 1980s and, as he was getting older, I had an idea that I'd be needed to come in and help. I knew after I finished studying I would come and work here. My brother and I have both taken over the running of the business.

Was it a smooth ride?

With any business there are ups and downs. There are a lot of hectic days which take it out of you. After my back surgery I had a lot of physical limitations, but during that time I learnt other skills!

Wasim looking through sample patterns for jackets.
Wasim looking through sample patterns for jackets.

Top tips

  • Don’t feel you have to get a degree. You don’t have to take the conventional route to getting a job

  • There are so many different ways to succeed – as long as you have a passion and a drive, it’s fine.

What to expect if you want to own your own business

Working for yourself looks different for each person and each business, but in general it means you:

  • run your own business and are responsible for its success
  • can decide how, when and where you do your work
  • charge an agreed, fixed price for your work
  • sell goods or services to make a profit
  • can hire people at your own expense to help you or to do the work for you.

The salary and working hours when you own a business can vary enormously but what's most important is you work hard and love what you do.

You can be both employed and self-employed at the same time. You can work for your employer during the day, for example, and run your own business in the evenings and at weekends. It’s important to contact HMRC for advice if you’re not sure if you’re self-employed.

You can get help with setting up or developing your business, through the government’s business support services, for example, for advice about tax or how to find funding to start your business.

This information is a guide (sources: LMI for All, National Careers Service)

For careers advice in all parts of the UK visit: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales

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