He launched his first watch collection at the age of 17. Now, two years later, with plans to become the next big thing in watch brands, time is definitely on Riley Tanton’s side.
At age 17, Riley Tanton designed and launched Millennial Watches, a range of unisex timepieces. The next year, in between studying for his HSC at Canberra Grammar, 5:45am rowing commitments and a part-time job, he released a new collection, with each watch named after an Australian Island. Now Riley is studying Business Administration at the University of Canberra—and with a new line of watches in the pipeline, including custom designs for organisations, this young man is well ahead of his time.
“I was frustrated trying to find a watch I liked that wasn’t going to rob the bank,” says Riley. “I wanted a quality time piece that was good looking, unique and dependable—not too chunky or heavy. When I couldn’t find what I wanted I decided to design my own.”
After securing backing through a Kickstarter campaign, testing many samples and building his own website, Millennial Watches opened for business. Riley has since sold as many as 180 watches in one week, with sales strongest in the ACT, NSW, QLD, and Victoria.
So how does a local school boy set about launching and manufacturing a line of watches?
After much research, Riley settled on manufacturing in Shenzhen, China. He worked with the manufacturer to refine and test samples, until together they perfected a stylish design that suits both fashion conscious men and women. Selecting the manufacturer was a massive decision, but Riley, using a translator and Skype, investigated how each step would work and made sure—through photos—that the workplace was clean, organised and safe.
“As soon as I have the funds, I’ll visit the factory in China” says Riley.
Not all profits hit Riley’s bank account. Even though a young entrepreneur, Riley has figured out that giving back to the community is good business, so he donates $3.50 from each watch sold to the Garvan Institute for Medical Research.
Why the Garvan Institute? “It focuses on asthma and Parkinson’s,” says Riley. “I suffer badly from asthma and have been hospitalised on and off with it since I was two, and my 80-year-old grandmother has been suffering from Parkinson’s for some time.”
Knowing that business must evolve to stay relevant, Riley is already working on new lines of watches, including custom designs for organisations. He’s just finished a 300-run for Canberra Grammar where he went to high school.