A compelling story of drive and determination is usually a staple to the background of many entrepreneurs. Founder of luxury sneaker brand Giovvani, Chris Jenkins, is no different.
12-year-old Web Designer
The UK-born eCommerce expert started his entrepreneurial journey at the age of 12. He designed a gaming website after watching his father, who was learning web design at the time. The website quickly gained traffic, and eventually, companies were all interested in placing banner ads on his webpage. It seemed like Chris was destined to become an entrepreneur in the tech space with such an early start.
“When I was 15 years old, my parents started to ask me whether I wanted to pursue a career with my websites. They seemed quite optimistic at the thought of me working for myself and that it would probably be more enjoyable than having a normal 9-5 job.”
The 9-5 Blues
However, the lure of “big money” drew him to enter the world of work at the age of 16 as a telephone engineer for one of the UK’s largest telecommunications companies. “At this point, I felt like it was time for me to go and work for a big company; somewhere I wouldn’t be alone in my bedroom working on my computer. In my mind, it was my chance to meet interesting, successful people and a point where my talent would be recognized. I could work my way up the corporate ladder quickly to earn a big salary – this would all turn out to be very wrong.”
After working as a telephone engineer for 7 years, Chris had not made any significant strides and realized it was time for a change. He quit his job and moved to Dubai to work for a real estate company before he was laid off. At a crossroads in his life, living in a foreign country with no income, Chris realized that he needed to begin making websites again like he did when he was younger.
“I immediately began several ventures, I bought www.selfiestick.co.uk and began dropshipping Selfie Sticks during the Selfie Stick trend. I did website design for friends, sold premade packaged websites online, sold whiteboard animated videos, did reputation management, and even sold likes and followers. Essentially, I did whatever I could to pay the rent in Dubai so I could continue living in a warm place which made me feel alive.”
After trying several options to keep afloat, Chris finally made a breakthrough with a stock market news website that started to get large traffic from Google News.
Once his income had stabilized, Chris decided to move to Bali, then Thailand, then Vietnam, before returning to Bali.
A Taste of eCommerce
It was during this trip to Bali that Chris would elevate to a next level in the world of eCommerce.
“A close friend from home told me his friend David was also living in Bali, and he worked online like me. One Sunday, David and I met up and had a few beers during happy hour.” Many bottles later, “we were both pretty drunk at this point, and I was showing off the traffic of the news websites to David. David seemed impressed but then pulled out his phone and said, ‘have a look at this’. He opened up the dashboard of his eCommerce store, and it showed $30,000 in sales.”
Chris shared that he was speechless. “Whilst the money from the online news business was nice; it wasn’t $60,000 per day. David had me hooked and made me decide to revisit dropshipping after that day.”
Fast-forward to 2020, after many attempts and thousands of hours, Chris has now become an eCommerce expert. He has now advertised to more than 700 million people online and currently employs 400-500 contractors via his dropshipping business.
Founder of Giovvani
He has also now gone on to launch Giovvani, his luxury sneaker brand. “During my travels, I needed some casual trainers but found it incredibly difficult to get anything which wasn’t covered in excessive designs and branding. This led me to spend lockdown of 2020 designing the shoes and developing relationships with suppliers who could meet the high-quality standards I’ve set for the product.”
Each Giovvani shoe is handmade with custom-designed and manufactured leather soles. The customer-focused comfortable shoes were designed to allow the colorways to be blended with different outfits adding the finishing touch to a designer wardrobe.
Chris aims to take his brand to the next level. “Whilst I still own and operate some dropshipping stores, I am now focused on growing Giovvani into a well-known global brand with a reputation for product excellence.”