I would like to start off this thread by saying, yes succeeding with a clothing brand is all based on how you handle business and having a strong passion and drive to continue to work hard towards your vision. I have been running a clothing brand for quite awhile now and things are moderate. I want to have the BOOM! of excitement to really get the company out there and eventually into stores. Any advice to break the walls and barriers down a little easier when it comes to branding, merchandise, budgeting, promoting, basically a whole business plan? Please leave constructive criticism. I look forward to hearing what you guys have to say.
-Ben
  • MylesB

    Well to start, do you have a website? Whats the link?
  • Ben.Slade

    I do have a website, but i put the company on hold to rebudget for the summer season and get all the imperfections modified. So, to answer your question, we do but, theres no product on it.
    starscreamclothing.bigcartel.com
  • jonkruse

    Don't wait for summer. Do it now. Just get the ball moving.

    People like Johnny Cupcakes never made it where they were today by taking breaks and putting things on hold till everything is perfect. Nothing is ever going to be perfect. Do the best you can now and don't worry about having everything perfect. Your vision of what perfect is will change.
  • Ben.Slade

    This is true, thank you jonkruse. The only issue of the setback is finacial. Any advice on how to budget properly and well so i can be up before summer? I hate taking breaks as you stated, so this is killin me!
  • Joshy Jetplane

    save money
  • MattyVF

    Show us some products.
  • SashaBloom

    Save the $1 , $2 that purchase at a fast food joint. Save everydollar. it all add's up
  • sven5228

    SashaBloom said:Save the $1 , $2 that purchase at a fast food joint. Save everydollar. it all add's up

    so true it's ridiculous
  • SashaBloom

    I used to spend about $50 a week on fast food, Multiply it by 52 weeks in a year and thats $2600 a year.
  • SashaBloom

    Its all the little things. You think its cheap but it does add up and drains your bank balance. Instead open a savings account where you put a certain amount of money a week. Its better to wait to fufill your goals. Then have no money to fufill them.
  • uglybetsy

    jonkruse said:Don't wait for summer. Do it now. Just get the ball moving.

    People like Johnny Cupcakes never made it where they were today by taking breaks and putting things on hold till everything is perfect. Nothing is ever going to be perfect. Do the best you can now and don't worry about having everything perfect. Your vision of what perfect is will change.

    ♥ ♥ ♥
  • miles to go

    judging by the big cartel page it seems you have quite a lot of work to do. I'm guessing from the look of the page since no products are showing. brands build over time by consistently putting out good products. doing one cool shirt more frequently will keep some attention around you and people checking back instead of saving to do 5 designs. its a hard reality when people start clothing lines because from their friends feedback, it seems like they will light the world on fire in a boom but its a slow burn. they say it takes about 10,000 hours to master something and i think in business too, it takes that amount of time to create the kind of momentum for a brand that is sustainable.
  • meredith

    miles to go said:judging by the big cartel page it seems you have quite a lot of work to do. I'm guessing from the look of the page since no products are showing. brands build over time by consistently putting out good products. doing one cool shirt more frequently will keep some attention around you and people checking back instead of saving to do 5 designs. its a hard reality when people start clothing lines because from their friends feedback, it seems like they will light the world on fire in a boom but its a slow burn. they say it takes about 10,000 hours to master something and i think in business too, it takes that amount of time to create the kind of momentum for a brand that is sustainable.

    This!

    Plus, do you really really really want to run a successful clothing brand? I know you are thinking "hell yeah" but understand what's involved. It's not about just designing cool shirts. My partner and I started our label a couple of years ago and we spend maybe 10% of our time doing something creative. The other 90% of our time we spend on much less glamorous things. We spend our time on sales, marketing, PR, vendor relations, managing staff, etc. Owning a successful biz is a management job, not a creative one. If you're up for all that, best of luck, just understand what you are trying to get into.

    Getting in stores won't just happen, you need to study up on how to do a buyers packet and line sheets. You need to learn how to pitch stores. Attending trade shows can also help with getting into stores, but those aren't cheap. On the plus side, getting into stores will increase your brand awareness, more places for people to see your stuff.

    Also, what is special about your brand? The tee market is competitive so you're going to need your own niche that sets you apart. What emotional need does your product fill? How do your products help your fans communicate their sense of self to the world? (That's what we do with our clothing.) Does your clothing help your fans say "I'm eco friendly" or "I'm hip" or "I'm nerdy" or "I'm funny" etc. What can your products do for consumers that the other brands aren't doing? If you can't answer that yourself it's going to be tough to sell your stuff. If you can answer that, you need to determine how you're going to communicate that value proposition.

    Doing live events will also help get you seen. So figure out who your target customer is and where you can go connect with them (horror cons, craft fairs, music festivals, etc). Make a schedule of live events you can do that will help you connect with your target customer and figure out what you'll need to do to attend them.

    Lastly, getting media attention will help your brand get seen. What websites do your target customers visit? What tv shows/movies do they watch? What magazines do they read? You need to figure that out and then get your brand seen in those places. This will also help your brand appear more legitimate to stores that might consider carrying your products. It will also boost your brand awareness with consumers.

    You will also want to study online marketing. Even if the bulk of your marketing won't be online, if you want to sell online you have to understand a bit about SEO, merchandising, product photos, conversion rate optimization, etc. so customers can find you and feel comfortable ordering from your online shop.

    It all sounds like a big job because it is. That's the stuff I'd work on though if I was trying to start a new brand and get it to take off.
  • BeneathRejectionClth

    Just wanted to say, Meredith - great answer. That's the kind of advice that's a big help to people. Nice.
  • Perception Apparel

    nicely said
  • Obscure

    Only birds succeed in life.

    Lame joke my 4th grade english teacher told us once...
  • Zacky.Provokage

    When you have some products and looking for a band to sponsor it, my band would love to do that. Hit us up when you do!
    HerNameWasRomance@live.com
    Facebook.com/HerNameWasRomance
  • VIHMIRU

    meredith said:
    miles to go said:judging by the big cartel page it seems you have quite a lot of work to do. I'm guessing from the look of the page since no products are showing. brands build over time by consistently putting out good products. doing one cool shirt more frequently will keep some attention around you and people checking back instead of saving to do 5 designs. its a hard reality when people start clothing lines because from their friends feedback, it seems like they will light the world on fire in a boom but its a slow burn. they say it takes about 10,000 hours to master something and i think in business too, it takes that amount of time to create the kind of momentum for a brand that is sustainable.

    This!

    Plus, do you really really really want to run a successful clothing brand? I know you are thinking "hell yeah" but understand what's involved. It's not about just designing cool shirts. My partner and I started our label a couple of years ago and we spend maybe 10% of our time doing something creative. The other 90% of our time we spend on much less glamorous things. We spend our time on sales, marketing, PR, vendor relations, managing staff, etc. Owning a successful biz is a management job, not a creative one. If you're up for all that, best of luck, just understand what you are trying to get into.

    Getting in stores won't just happen, you need to study up on how to do a buyers packet and line sheets. You need to learn how to pitch stores. Attending trade shows can also help with getting into stores, but those aren't cheap. On the plus side, getting into stores will increase your brand awareness, more places for people to see your stuff.

    Also, what is special about your brand? The tee market is competitive so you're going to need your own niche that sets you apart. What emotional need does your product fill? How do your products help your fans communicate their sense of self to the world? (That's what we do with our clothing.) Does your clothing help your fans say "I'm eco friendly" or "I'm hip" or "I'm nerdy" or "I'm funny" etc. What can your products do for consumers that the other brands aren't doing? If you can't answer that yourself it's going to be tough to sell your stuff. If you can answer that, you need to determine how you're going to communicate that value proposition.

    Doing live events will also help get you seen. So figure out who your target customer is and where you can go connect with them (horror cons, craft fairs, music festivals, etc). Make a schedule of live events you can do that will help you connect with your target customer and figure out what you'll need to do to attend them.

    Lastly, getting media attention will help your brand get seen. What websites do your target customers visit? What tv shows/movies do they watch? What magazines do they read? You need to figure that out and then get your brand seen in those places. This will also help your brand appear more legitimate to stores that might consider carrying your products. It will also boost your brand awareness with consumers.

    You will also want to study online marketing. Even if the bulk of your marketing won't be online, if you want to sell online you have to understand a bit about SEO, merchandising, product photos, conversion rate optimization, etc. so customers can find you and feel comfortable ordering from your online shop.

    It all sounds like a big job because it is. That's the stuff I'd work on though if I was trying to start a new brand and get it to take off.

    epic response, meredith.

    in regards to the stockist comments, it's worked the other way around for me... i've never pitched to a store and don't really want to have my products in other stores anyway. but i receive emails every couple of weeks from stores wanting to stock my products.

    so ben, as meredith said, you definitely need to find a niche. don't do the same thing everyone else is doing or you'll just sink and disappear amongst them.

    in terms of advertising you definitely need to dabble to find what works. i've spent a bit of budget on print advertising last year which didn't pay off at all but i know now to concentrate on digital advertising as when ever i've done a digital advert or been featured on a blog my sales noticeably increase.

    you need to create products and branding that make you stand out. your products need to be talking pieces and by that i mean something that makes people tell their friends about them - this comes with originality and fresh approach.

    best of luck.
  • meredith

    Thanks, guys!

    We actually got our first wholesale buyer because they approached us, but we definitely don't sit back and wait for them all to come to us. If you're a new brand and you want to get into a lot of stores, you're probably going to have to do some hustling, hundreds of stores won't just show up on your doorstep over night. That's all I was really getting at :)

    I have not seen print ads work all that well either (for us or other biz owners I know). Publicity, on the other hand, is awesome! It's more work, but doesn't require an actual outlay of cash. I have seen it deliver the best ROI compared to any other kind of promotion we've done. It's a completely tedious and time-consuming PITA but it really pays off. We actually just hired someone in-house last year to take it over for us because it was such a time sink. We can't do without it, but we have so much other stuff to work on that we can't spend all day on it.
  • Issie Ishiyama

    jonkruse said:Don't wait for summer. Do it now. Just get the ball moving.

    People like Johnny Cupcakes never made it where they were today by taking breaks and putting things on hold till everything is perfect. Nothing is ever going to be perfect. Do the best you can now and don't worry about having everything perfect. Your vision of what perfect is will change.

    GREAT STUFF Jon!!!!!
  • Issie Ishiyama

    miles to go said:judging by the big cartel page it seems you have quite a lot of work to do. I'm guessing from the look of the page since no products are showing. brands build over time by consistently putting out good products. doing one cool shirt more frequently will keep some attention around you and people checking back instead of saving to do 5 designs. its a hard reality when people start clothing lines because from their friends feedback, it seems like they will light the world on fire in a boom but its a slow burn. they say it takes about 10,000 hours to master something and i think in business too, it takes that amount of time to create the kind of momentum for a brand that is sustainable.

    AWESOME advice!!!!!
  • Issie Ishiyama

    meredith said:
    miles to go said:judging by the big cartel page it seems you have quite a lot of work to do. I'm guessing from the look of the page since no products are showing. brands build over time by consistently putting out good products. doing one cool shirt more frequently will keep some attention around you and people checking back instead of saving to do 5 designs. its a hard reality when people start clothing lines because from their friends feedback, it seems like they will light the world on fire in a boom but its a slow burn. they say it takes about 10,000 hours to master something and i think in business too, it takes that amount of time to create the kind of momentum for a brand that is sustainable.

    This!

    Plus, do you really really really want to run a successful clothing brand? I know you are thinking "hell yeah" but understand what's involved. It's not about just designing cool shirts. My partner and I started our label a couple of years ago and we spend maybe 10% of our time doing something creative. The other 90% of our time we spend on much less glamorous things. We spend our time on sales, marketing, PR, vendor relations, managing staff, etc. Owning a successful biz is a management job, not a creative one. If you're up for all that, best of luck, just understand what you are trying to get into.

    Getting in stores won't just happen, you need to study up on how to do a buyers packet and line sheets. You need to learn how to pitch stores. Attending trade shows can also help with getting into stores, but those aren't cheap. On the plus side, getting into stores will increase your brand awareness, more places for people to see your stuff.

    Also, what is special about your brand? The tee market is competitive so you're going to need your own niche that sets you apart. What emotional need does your product fill? How do your products help your fans communicate their sense of self to the world? (That's what we do with our clothing.) Does your clothing help your fans say "I'm eco friendly" or "I'm hip" or "I'm nerdy" or "I'm funny" etc. What can your products do for consumers that the other brands aren't doing? If you can't answer that yourself it's going to be tough to sell your stuff. If you can answer that, you need to determine how you're going to communicate that value proposition.

    Doing live events will also help get you seen. So figure out who your target customer is and where you can go connect with them (horror cons, craft fairs, music festivals, etc). Make a schedule of live events you can do that will help you connect with your target customer and figure out what you'll need to do to attend them.

    Lastly, getting media attention will help your brand get seen. What websites do your target customers visit? What tv shows/movies do they watch? What magazines do they read? You need to figure that out and then get your brand seen in those places. This will also help your brand appear more legitimate to stores that might consider carrying your products. It will also boost your brand awareness with consumers.

    You will also want to study online marketing. Even if the bulk of your marketing won't be online, if you want to sell online you have to understand a bit about SEO, merchandising, product photos, conversion rate optimization, etc. so customers can find you and feel comfortable ordering from your online shop.

    It all sounds like a big job because it is. That's the stuff I'd work on though if I was trying to start a new brand and get it to take off.

    sorry for all the responding, but I've read some amazing genuine advise on this thread! This is what this business and, in general, life should be about. If you are the "Michael Jordan" of the game, you are not afraid to pull a rookie Kobe Bryant to the side and give advice about the GAME. good stuff everyone, good stuff.
  • vandal x klothing

    get a good job, believe in what you do, sink money into it, don't cut corners and one day it will come.
  • Husky

    YAY HAPPY THREAD FOR ONCE!

    But Meredith nailed it on the head and was a great help to me aswell :)
  • Ben.Slade

    This advice has been awesome guys. seriously one positive thread I have read. Thank you guys so much. I will keep updating everyone. Meredith that was the realest response i have ever read. Great Job! I am taking the advice and applying it immediately.
  • Aaron Andrews Apparel

    So much great advice on here that I don't even need to offer any more! I think MEREDITH said it best, owning a clothing line is just that.. you are the owner of a business. You may have all the creativity in the world and the best ideas, but if you don't have the mindset that you own a company and you have take care of so many aspects of the business to even obtain success... then your headed in the wrong direction.

    I've had a clothing line for about 4 years now, and I can finally say that I am just now making progress. Yes it takes times and patience, but most of all you must believe you can. Not everyone will buy into your concepts and designs, I thought I had the best looking designs and shirts that would compete with major brands... but i was young and naive. I didn't know much about the business but I studied and learned all on my own, no mentors! I thought that after one month of releasing my shirts I'd have my clothes in all the major retail chains... optimistic... indeed. It took me a year to even get a store to carry my shirts on cosign, which I hate, but I did it for experience... I shy away from retail even now and plan to release everything on the web.

    Family and friends supported my business, and friends of friends, as well as people I've never met acknowledged my line, but I didnt feel like I was moving fast enough... I encourage anyone who has that experience to step back, analyze, and find out what people like in clothes and how you can accommodate them while not sacrificing what truly makes your line unique; that is when you will find success.

    I'm going to get off my breadbox now but if you have any questions about anything definitely reach out. I may still be young but I feel like I have experienced a ton in this clothing business, and still have knowledge to gain.

    Always remain positive and focus on the end goal! Much Success
  • josh wheeler

    If you really really want it then you will make it happen. Once you start you will know if you really want it. You truly can achieve anything if you believe and TAKE THE FIRST STEP. Preparation is the key to success not Perfection.
  • zb

    Some great advice here!
  • Christiane

    Assuming it would be a help to everyone if we started a thread like the critiques one.. People post for advice for their brands & then the designers & brand wonders can give their two cents if they want to rather than have a million of these
  • Yellowdog

    jonkruse said:Don't wait for summer. Do it now. Just get the ball moving.

    People like Johnny Cupcakes never made it where they were today by taking breaks and putting things on hold till everything is perfect. Nothing is ever going to be perfect. Do the best you can now and don't worry about having everything perfect. Your vision of what perfect is will change.

    All the advice here is amazing but this stands out most to me. If you want to do it....just get out there and do it and you'll end up building and improving on what you have.
  • zb

    My $.02
    My dad has been and still is incredibly successful in the business world (specifically entrepreneurship which certainly applies to apparel brands), and through exposure one of the most important things I have learned about business is to set goals.
    It's a simple concept, but one that a lot of people overlook.
    Yes, there are examples of people who just winged it and became successful, but it's counterproductive to plan on being the exception to the rule.
    Even if you just say "I'm going to launch by may 10th with at least 1 solid design NO MATTER WHAT" and really do it, you'll be amazed at how things fall into place. Like others have said, getting your feet wet is the hardest part.
    And I am the worst offender at this. I try to make everything perfect, and since perfect is impossible, things never take off.
    I am currently in the beginning stages of starting a brand too, and I am relying heavily on my list of goals.

    Great info here, keep it comin!
  • Cardinal Cotton

    Great advice here! We have been in business as a web design company for almost 8 years and are in the process of launching our clothing line now. It is hard work and it takes a lot of time and dedication to start a successful business. We are still figuring things everyday! But I think actually making the leap and setting goals are 2 of the most important things.

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