Patrick Keane: BSc (Hons) Sports Coaching 2014-2017; Co-owner and Director, Vibra Clothing

5 Jul 21
A man and a woman in blue sports clothing

“I had no idea about how to start a business but it didn’t matter. With all the life lessons I had learnt from my time at Winchester, I knew that I could start the journey with confidence and find the right pathway to success.”

A keen tennis player since early childhood, Patrick Keane graduated from Sports Coaching at Winchester in 2017. After his studies, Patrick went on to train for two years in Croatia and competed internationally in tennis in Europe and beyond. When the Covid pandemic halted all sports in 2020, Patrick made good use of this unexpected break to qualify as a personal trainer. Later that year, realising that his tennis career was on hold indefinitely, Patrick decided to turn a hobby into a business and established Vibra Clothing with a friend who shared his passion for retro clothing.

I am currently the co-owner and director of Vibra Clothing. My friend and I have created and developed a retro second-hand clothing company, selling an array of vintage branded streetwear, both online and at pop-up stall events. We had always been into fashion and with the increasing awareness of sustainability in the industry, we saw there was a unique gap in the market that we wanted to exploit. So, we decided to start up Vibra Clothing and haven’t looked back ever since.”

Patrick speaks about his unique career pathway since leaving Winchester.

After completing my degree in Sports Coaching and having captained the men’s tennis first team in my final year, I wanted a shot at competing with my tennis on a full-time basis. I’ve played tennis since the age of four and I trained five times a week whilst at university. My course taught me a lot about elite level sport and the important tools required to be a full-time athlete. Learning this from a coach’s perspective was an invaluable learning experience and only increased my aspirations of taking my tennis to a higher level. For example, one of my favourite modules was learning about the psychology behind sporting athletes. Learning how to think and focus your mind on specific areas really fascinated me.

After applying for several sport sponsorships in my final few months of at Winchester, I was accepted into a full-time tennis academy in Croatia where I trained for two years with three different tennis coaches, a sports psychologist, a sports nutritionist and a fitness coach. I competed in international tennis events most weeks around Europe and further afield. The whole experience was truly incredible and helped develop my independence and determination for success.

When Covid first broke, with the news that tennis tournaments and training would be stopping, I decided to use my time gaining a new qualification to add to my coaching qualifications. As someone who has always been into my training, health and fitness, I chose a personal training course. Seeking a fresh start, I accepted a place on a Level 4 personal training and fitness course in Dublin and, once it was possible to do so, I moved out there for a few months to complete my studies.”

As Covid restrictions and financial constraints continued to hinder Patrick’s tennis training, he returned to England to think about his next move.

I decided I didn’t want to get a 9-5 job that I had no real passion for – just for the money. I’ve never been someone to settle for the easy option, so I had to figure out what to do next.

“My friend and I had been selling some of our own clothing on the Depop app in our spare time for extra cash. We also enjoyed random trips to charity shops together to find branded items for bargain prices. We then thought that, rather than buying these cheap items and keeping them, why not try and sell them on for a profit? We did this for a few months and built up some funds, whilst also having part-time jobs on the side (I used my PT and tennis coaching qualifications for this).

“Our next step was to use all our funds on a big wholesale bundle of clothes. This decision really got the business started. From that bundle, we experimented with several different suppliers around the UK and used all our revenue on consistently buying new stock. The more items we were buying, the more we were selling. and our sales figures and followers continued to grow – this is how we established Vibra Clothing.

Patrick credits his degree at Winchester for giving him the positive attitude and resilience that has seen him through disappointments in his tennis career to creating a successful business at a very difficult time.

Life really is what you make of it. I will never forget being told this is in my first ever lecture at Winchester and it’s a sentence I have taken with me throughout my journey ever since.

“I arrived at Winchester hoping to have a great time, meet great people and maybe find a job I enjoyed at the end of it – but it gave me so much more. My degree gave me in-depth knowledge of how to build a strong mentality. With all my deadlines and management of multiple assignments at once, I had no choice but to become more independent and more organised. I knew I had to hit targets by a certain time and this in itself was a huge life lesson to me. I am constantly setting myself new targets and goals that I have to hit. This mentality all stemmed from what I learnt at Winchester. I knew that if I made sure I got things finished on time I could enjoy my time out with friends even more.

“The biggest lesson my degree taught me was that I had so much more capability within myself than I ever thought. No matter how much people can help and encourage you, at the end of the day the effort has to come from within yourself and when I began to realise this, things started to happen. I started opening my own doors to success.

Patrick and his business partner have ambitious plans for the future of Vibra Clothing and a clear route achieving them.

The way we both like to operate is to have our five-year plan and work backwards. This plan is then broken up into monthly and weekly goals. The end goal of the plan is to open our own outlet store in Australia and become a globally recognised business in the vintage clothing industry.

“To achieve this, we’re looking to scale up the business with international supply lines and potential outside investment. This will require expanding our online presence and following, while increasing sales targets. Once our business portfolio shows a level of sustainability and growth through our data, we can then present our plan to potential investors.”

Patrick strongly recommends taking part in the wide range of extracurricular activities and societies available to Winchester students, crediting his roles in the tennis society for boosting his own personal growth.

In taking on the responsibility as men’s tennis first team captain and the university’s tennis ambassador, I had no choice but to step up and deliver. My organisational skills, communication skills and self-confidence improved greatly through these roles. I grew so much into a person I had never thought I could be.

“The tennis society was such a huge part of my university experience. Constantly being surrounded by people who wanted to win and succeed helped me build a resilient and determined attitude which I now carry through with me in all aspects of my life. I soon realised that no matter what field of interest you have, if you want to have a successful career you need to be confident in your own ability, be organised and be a good communicator.”

Playing tennis at Winchester also gave Patrick some unforgettable memories.

My favourite memory from university was probably our tennis awaydays. We would drive to various universities in our team of four, spend the journey discussing our match tactics, then play our matches and drive back just in time for Wednesday’s Bop night. There was no better feeling than turning up to meet all the tennis society and telling them we had just won our matches, resulting in ten minutes of singing and chanting. We felt like genuine kings!”

Patrick strongly believes that his experiences as a student at Winchester kickstarted his ambition and equipped him with the skills to make a successful career for himself, no matter in what field.

My experience at Winchester has helped develop me as a person in so many different ways. Because of the skills I learnt at university I will now throw myself into any challenge I can and try to be the best in everything I do.

“Independence is one of the things that develops most at university – not just living away from home and having to learn how to do your own laundry and cooking – but mainly that no matter what it is you want to do in life, you have the capacity to achieve it through your own efforts.”

He also has some inspirational advice for students and graduates.

“Never wait for anyone to tell you what to do, go out and grasp every opportunity you can, and great things will happen. I had no idea about how to start a business, nor had I ever studied anything about business, but it didn’t matter. With all the life lessons I had learnt from my time at Winchester, I knew that I could start the journey with confidence and find the right pathway to success.”

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