I haven’t written an article in a while and thought it was about time to get back into it. I see a lot of people entering into the clothing game and I can usually tell by the type of person they are if they are going to succeed or fail.
I get a ton of emails from people thinking of starting a clothing company. The people that want every answer before they start and need their hand held through the process usually don’t make it very far. Asking questions and planning everything out is crucial but actually taking the initiative and doing it teaches you so much more. The most important part is just getting the ball rolling. You might not have all the answers now but you will figure it all out down the road. This one characteristic is what I see all the time with successful clothing company owners.
Owners that think positively are much more likely to succeed. The hardest time for me was in the very beginning when I wasn’t getting those first sales. Every problem was a set back and I could have quit at any time. Most of the people that are successful have just weathered the hard times and are stronger because of it. If you can be strong and think positively in the darkest hours everything will come together in time.
Knowing your market and your customer is a must. I feel like a lot of people believe they have a brilliant idea but they don’t connect with their market. No matter how much you want to go and do your own thing you need to remember you need a customer to sell to.
You can’t be a walmart. What I mean is you can’t sell products to everyone. There already is a walmart and it sucks. You need to define your market and go after your niche in the market place.
TEST EVERYTHING! No one wants to put up a ton of money to see find out if you will succeed or fail test everything. We live in a time where you can connect to people around the world through the internet. Go onto forums like mintees.com and see what people like. Ask your friends on twitter. Try and stay away from family and friends and take everything with a grain of salt. When you print shirts don’t print 1,000 because it’s cheaper print 50 or less and see what sizes sell the best. Use your money wisely and test everything so you can make better decisions in the future.
Constantly recalibrate. This goes along with the idea of testing everything. Once you see what works and what doesn’t you need to recalibrate. I have noticed in my personal life I don’t make very many decisions that are set in stone. I am constantly figuring out what is the best option at that time from the information I have.
Be a person not a business. I remember in the beginning with myspace friend adders I would go on and add tons of people. Jeff Finely from Go Media wrote something about how having 100 devoted followers is more important to having thousands that don’t care about your company. At first I dismissed this idea. I just wanted to take the easy route. Looking back it was a big mistake, I wasted all this time adding friends on myspace, which took forever, and what I should have been doing is connecting with people on a more person level. You can do this on facebook, twitter, through email, your blog. Be the awesome person people want to buy stuff from.
Get others to help you with your company. Limit what you do to only the things you’re awesome at. If you’re a great designer but don’t know web design get someone to help. If you’re a marketing genius and have no clue about design get a designer to help you with some shirt designs. Your company will be stronger in the end.