‘I was never very good at ticking boxes’ says local CEO

Shop owner Liam Jones shares the importance of staying true to yourself while running a business, even if that means not conforming to the norm

Jones, 26, shows off his brand, something he has dreamed of his whole life. Image credit: Hansa Tote

At only 26 years old, Cardiff resident Liam Jones is the CEO of his own clothing brand, Over Seas Apparel, in the Royal Arcade.

“I was never very good at ticking boxes in school,” Jones explains, he just wanted to do something creative. So when the opportunity to open a pop-up shop following an art course arose, he jumped at the chance.

Now, nearly eight years on, the business owner reflects on everything the brand has achieved.

Unlike a typical boss, Jones prioritises the social side of having a shop rather than sales. He describes selling clothes as a by-product of what his actual job is, which he says is: “Meeting people and just having a good laugh.”

The shop is something he has always wanted, reminiscing on weekends spent with his father in the city’s arcades as a child. “It’s crazy”, Jones says, almost in disbelief, saying the shop is one of his biggest achievements.

Running to help curb loneliness

As well as selling clothes, Jones has started a weekly running club called The OSA Running Club, with the aim of “Having a laugh” and making new friends.

After taking up running over lockdown but not feeling confident enough to join a club, the then-novice runner decided to form his own.

“I wanted to aim at people that wouldn’t usually go for a run, just to get them out of the house,” Jones says earnestly, stating they finish each run at the pub, ensuring that non-runners who might simply want a catch-up are included.

Jones wants to help people meet others, saying some of the attendees did not know anyone in Cardiff prior to the club, chuckling that one member is “Stuck with us forever.”

I’m a bit of a doughnut in the sense that I don’t pretend to be something I’m not

Trials and tribulations of being a young CEO

Having started the brand at only 18, Jones has faced his fair share of challenges as a young CEO, especially while staying as authentically him as possible.

“I’m a bit of a doughnut in the sense that I don’t pretend to be something I’m not” Jones says, explaining he would never dress like a “businessperson”, he wants to dress as himself.

Wearing one of his own hoodies and jeans, Jones does not look like a stereotypical businessman, but instead someone that is proud of the brand he has created.

He thinks some people don’t take him seriously due to the “Old-school way” of looking at things that is so ingrained in businesses.

“They think that I’m just a kid,” he sighs, recalling an interaction with his former retail landlord who dismissed his jeans and hoodie look.

Refusing to give into other’s assumptions, Jones knows that if he puts his mind to something it will work, saying he “Won’t let it not.”

These challenges have not dampened Jones’s ambitions – he wants to open four more stores globally. After this he wants to disappear and “Never come back”, knowing he has achieved a lifelong dream.

Listen to Liam discuss his journey to becoming a CEO