A fruitless three-month search for a stylish raincoat made Mike Cerka and his longtime friend and roommate Tyler Quarles realize there was a dearth of chic yet functional dry wear options in one of the rainiest cities in the world.
So Cerka, a graduate from Capilano University with a Bachelor of Business Administration, and Quarles, a graduate from CapU’s IDEA School of Design, joined forces to design weatherproof gear.
“It took about two years from that first moment of noticing the potential need for this kind of product, to where we are today,” explains Quarles.
Without much knowledge about manufacturing apparel to begin with, the two started from scratch, learning everything they could about the process.
They say their first year at Capilano University helped them pinpoint their respected fields of interest.
“The teachers at Cap were fantastic mentors,” says Cerka. “I personally developed some lasting relationships that have been supportive to my career. I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do coming out of high school, and they really helped me identify my strengths.”
Quarles adds: “The University really supports those who value a hands-on education.”
Their line of stylish weatherproof jackets, Baro™, was officially launched in stores in 2016 and is already gaining a niche following and rave reviews, making “Best Raincoat” lists in media publications throughout North America.
Their advice for budding entrepreneurs who are considering taking their ideas to the next step?
“Just start!” Cerka says. “Having knowledge is great but if you don’t know something, don’t hesitate to hire a professional to help you out.”
“And don’t wait,” adds Quarles. “Six years down the road, you’re still going to make mistakes. Analysis paralysis will only make you regret not taking the leap. It’s like bungee jumping. The people you surround yourself with are your rope. Build your community right. They could be outside your wheelhouse, so don’t hesitate to connect with people in other fields. Also, you probably know more than you think you do. Once you break down each process, you’ll discover all of the transferable skills you possess, and you just get it done.”