A Day Dreamer’s Watches debut wristwatch designed by Aldebaron Levin ’23 set for market release
At this point in the year most college students are trying to push through to the end of the semester and catch up on their homework. However, Aldebaron Levin ’23 has been juggling school, thinking about their future after graduation and launching their own company.
A few weeks ago, Levin, who is from the outskirts of small town Ramona, Calif., soft-launched their own watch business called A Day Dreamer’s Watches. While studying as a philosophy major and computer science minor, Levin has spent the beginning of their final year at Lewis & Clark trying to get their watches manufactured and ready for retail.
According to Levin, the process of getting these watches made has been quite the rollercoaster. Their first design was inspired by the LC koi pond, which Levin first discovered as a first-year student.
“I started just kind of wandering campus trying to find a safe place where I could just not have people everywhere,” Levin said. “The fish pond isn’t the most isolated place on campus, but it’s my favorite.”
It was not until September of last year, however, that Levin became interested in watch making. Levin contacted their friend with a graphic design background to start coming up with an initial design. Finalizing the design took two to three months,because they had a very clear vision for what it should look like.
Levin intended to sell the design to one of the watch companies that initially inspired them. However, Levin was rejected by the company because that company already had a design similar to Levin’s.
After that, the idea of the watch fell stagnant for a while. But Levin said the idea of making the watch was so important to them that they kept searching for solutions. It was not until they got the idea to start their own company that the plan resumed.
“I didn’t think I could start a company,” Levin said. “I didn’t think I could do any of this, so I just kind of tried to let it go. But I … I’d stay up until 1 a.m. just on a random night searching the web, trying to figure out some way to just make one watch. All I needed was one version of this watch.”
Since then, Levin has been busy starting a business, finalizing designs and contracting with a manufacturer to make their dream of creating watches come to fruition.
They partnered with a small watch manufacturer in Ohio. Levin enjoys their partnership, because the company emphasized communication and involvement.
“I’ve been speaking with the president of the company this whole time,” Levin said. “… working with him figuring out how to make my design come to life was pretty cool and now I’m hoping to keep doing that with them. Because it’s really great having somebody who knows so much about watches, because I really don’t.”
Levin said the long distance partnership can be a little difficult, but that the company’s president has excelled at communication.
In late October, Levin received the first batch of watches after more than a year of waiting. They said they were very nervous to see the product because they did not get to see anything until the batch was done since they did not produce a prototype. However, once they saw it, Levin was thrilled with the final product and could not believe how well it turned out.
“It was kind of a leap of faith moment,” Levin said.
Though it is hard getting a business off the ground, Levin has been managing well. They said they do that, by making sure they focus equally on all aspects of their life, creating an equal balance of school and business.
“You know, study for that computer science midterm, and then also, you know, form an LLC and find a CPA.”Levin jokes.
In addition to the koi-inspired watch, Levin already has several more designs in the works. Similarly, they all represent some important attachments to Levin’s life.
With these other designs, Levin hopes to grow ADDW in the future, but that also has led to some challenges. ADDW’s manufacturer does not process any orders of less than 300 units. Now in possession of 300 koi pond watches, Levin will need to start selling a good proportion of them to be able to produce more designs. Levin has a plan to make sure they are able to keep producing watches while making a profit.
“I’m not starting my next design until I sell at least half of my current design,” Levin said. “Hopefully, I will start production halfway through selling my previous design.”
In the future, as Levin grows ADDW, they want to stick with the same manufacturer because they align with their business model. Levin was enthusiastic about the quality of the watches their manufacturer was able to make, though they run at a higher price point as a result. Levin said the price point for the current model will be about $325 or $350. Though they acknowledge that college students will most likely not be the target audience for their watch, they hope that the LC community will help promote the business after hearing ADDW’s story.
Levin also said that if the business grows, they will try their best to keep the watches at a reasonable price and create an honest business model.
“I have been thinking a lot about integrity as I’ve been doing this, because right now, only 300 units of this watch have been produced,” Levin said. “And what I could say in marketing is this is a limited object, I’m not going to produce any more. This is it after this is sold, I’m done. Or I can leave it kind of open and say, you know, maybe someday I’ll produce more if it sells well.”
Levin said one of the most difficult aspects of getting a business off the ground is promoting the brand.
“Getting the word out has been by far the most important part of starting this business and also the part that I’m the least capable at because I’m not a big social media user. “I’m an introvert, I’m not like out there, chatting it up with people. So I’ve been really nervous about this.”
Now that their watches are almost ready for retail, Levin hopes that going into a full launch will help spread the word about the business.
Levin says that help with social media is one of the biggest focal points of promotion. ADDW can be found @adaydreamerswatches on Instagram. Levin plans to maintain the business as a side project while they go to law school next year. However, Levin is willing to see where the future takes them.
The main reason Levin started a company in the first place was that they wanted to encapsulate a special moment in their life, which is an experience they believe other people can relate to.
“The design was born of the pandemic,” Levin said. “If it hadn’t been for COVID, I wouldn’t have a business right now, which is crazy. But because I was here as a freshman, and I was a little bit miserable, like many of us were, it led me in this direction. And I hope people can relate to that and feel connected to this. Because this isn’t just my story. This is very similar to what a lot of people have experienced.”