A quick introduction, to what we are aiming to achieve and how I came about setting up my own outlet for Japanese koi carp at only 17 years old.
Firstly, I would like to introduce myself, for those of you who haven’t met me yet, my name is Will and I am currently selling Japanese koi carp whilst studying business and marketing at university. I have had over 8 years experience keeping koi and other aquatic animals, and over the past 3 years my passion for koi has continuously grown as with my knowledge and experience.
In the May of 2019 I left secondary school with no real idea of what I wanted to do, I was 15 at the time and had just finished my GCSE’s, I knew I wanted to go to college and try to figure things out from there, but never did I imagine where things would lead me. The day after leaving school I started helping out at my dads small business, answering phones etc, when I was asked for some help to rebuild an existing pond that we inherited when we moved house when I was younger. I said yes not really knowing what I was letting myself in for, only knowing that my dad had a friend who manufactured temporary ponds who was going to try and help us. Over the summer, the pond was built and it was time to install a bottom drain and a nexus system, this wasn’t too unfamiliar to me as we had previously been running an Eazypod pump fed. Dave from Showkoi came to help us fit the bottom drain and I had just surpassed my 16th birthday, he was looking for an extra pair of hands and offered me a trial whilst on a work experience week with college as he could see my passion and desire to get into the hobby.
From this, my passion grew and hasn’t stopped growing, I set myself up a small growing tank in an outbuilding over the winter that was kindly donated from Dave and borrowed a sum of money from my dad to buy some imported Japanese koi carp. I initially bought 20, but quickly had the rising electric bill brought to my attention due to the heater keeping the pond at 24 degrees. A week on, I bought 50 more koi with the aim of selling them in the spring to cover the expenses of my own fish that I was keeping for my new pond. However, this sparked an idea in my head, and I suggested to my dad that I built a 30ft poly tunnel in the garden to house another tank which I would then fill with more fish as a way to earn myself a little bit of money in the spring time whilst also giving me something to occupy myself with over the winter. Just after Christmas, the polytunnel was erected and 200 more fish were purchased. I was then rapidly learning about the importance of keeping good water and maintaining filters.
As we came out of the winter, news of the pandemic started to break and the country went into lockdown, all freight from Japan was stopped and fish were becoming scarce, so I was gearing up ready for the start of the season knowing I wouldn’t be able to replace my stock too swiftly and had to try and prolong what I had got in front of me as long as I possibly could. The season started well and fish sales were good, and mid way through the season, the contacts I had within the industry proved useful and I was given an experience within the wholesale company I had purchased my fish from that I couldn’t refuse. I was literally living the dream. Every morning throughout the pandemic I was getting trains to work by myself, and at that point in time there was nothing in my life other than fish, so I made it a priority to learn as much as I possibly could about them. Everyday I was learning and soaking up as much information I possibly could, I mean these guys are the biggest importers of Japanese koi carp in the country, its not a bad place to get information from.
As we then went into winter, things began to come back to normality and college started to become in person again rather than online, so naturally I stopped going to work and focused on finishing college and getting my 3 a levels. The plan was for me to then leave college and set on full time where I had been working throughout the past season. However, there was a caveat, I was no longer able to sell to the public, which is what I enjoyed doing. As much as I love keeping fish, I also enjoy helping people and seeing them enjoy this wonderful hobby, It’s not all about profits and money and if I can enhance the way someone views their pond I’d rather it. I made the decision to finish college and give retailing a good shot, I had nothing to lose, I had been accepted into university and I was still doing what I enjoyed, worse comes to worse I could have just backed off and kept koi as a hobby. 2021 then saw me have a fantastic year, going from strength to strength and selling over 1500 fish. Now this doesn’t sound overly impressive in comparison to most koi dealers, but I’m working from home out of 2 ponds in my back garden in my first year. The facebook page was steadily growing and at the end of 2021, Instagram and TikTok pages were set up too.
That brings us to now, just before the season of 2022 starts, and at present I have the best stock I have ever had, I’ve just set up my website that I design and manage myself and I also have a growing number of regular customers who rely on me for almost every aspect of their hobby. I couldn’t be more grateful for everyone who has believed in me throughout my experience in the hobby, Dave at Showkoi will always be a good friend of mine and we speak frequently, and Ricky at koi wholesale I will always admire and thank for his patience, advice and knowledge that he offered me from the first time I met him. Without the job throughout the pandemic that he gave me, I wouldn’t know half of what I know now and I couldn’t have set myself up without it.