As most of you know, I started a clothing company about a year and a half ago. I knew I loved crop tops a lot and I knew most companies had those shitty tanks that make us women look fat so I thought why not?!
How hard could starting a crop top company really be?
Let’s just say it’s been a journey. I’ve gone through stages where I feel like my company is doing so well, I’m on top of the world. Then I’ll go weeks without anyone to order anything and I’m just frustrated and confused. I went through a stage where I thought someone else running my company would be a great idea, then it took four weeks to get my inventory back and it was left outside in a laundry bag by the time we were able to grab it. It’s a learning process though, I learn something new every single day.
The first thing I’ve learned when starting a startup. Make sure your first business is not a clothing company! There are entirely WAY too many people out there who want the same thing as you do. Freedom, independence, to be their own boss but think smarter when creating your brand. There’s so many clothing options out there and it’s just so expensive, I would research manufacturers and get samples before I even wasted money on getting your business certified with Sun Biz or whatever your state business bureau is. Now, if you have the money and the idea then I’d say go for it but if you’re anything like me then I’d say clothing is probably not the best option. It’s hard, it takes a lot of grit and the reason so many clothing companies fail is because it takes a lot of time and effort.
Secondly, do not and I repeat DO NOT go into business with a good friend or family member! I learned this the hard way. You truly see people’s true colors when you mix business and pleasure so don’t do it unless you’re sure both parties can handle it. I had a good friend willing to help me mail orders while I was in Kuwait and because I lived in Kuwait, it was hard for me to criticize anything this person did. So when orders were being sent out too late or wrong, I had to put up with it and try in the nicest way to tell her to keep up. When I finally did, she told me to let someone else do it and so I did. When I was supposed to move back to Kuwait, I asked this person stupidly if she’d run my company and she said yes. Once again, orders weren’t being sent out so when I criticized her for it, she quit again. It made me look like an ass to the people running my website, to the people who had my inventory, and to the guy who helps me with everything technical. Not to mention, the process of getting everything back to normal and getting the inventory back was stressful. The main reason you shouldn’t mix business with pleasure is because most people can’t distinguish the difference between your personal relationship with them and your business relationship with them. I learned that about a year ago with a different friend because I was treating his work as a personal favor versus a business transaction. It’s a hard pill to swallow and involving others in your business gets complicated, but you live and learn. Now I’ve learned to not involve my friends in my business.
Another thing I’ve learned while starting a start up business. Patience is key. When you start a company, you want to do everything at once, you want to buy everything and add new things every month but you can’t do that because then you’ll go broke. TRUST ME, I KNOW. I went broke then went broke again. It’s a learning process but when you start a company, start slow. Then, once you start making some profit you can slowly add different things to that business. Take your ideas, sort them out and don’t be all over the place. Trust me, I’m still all over the place sometimes but as I mentioned startups are a learning process. Patience is a hard thing to grasp but once you do, your business can run so much smoother.
Moving on, relying on other people and companies sucks. When you start a company, you’re more than likely going to hire someone to take care of your website or create something for you in a good timeframe. More than likely, you’re going to be disappointed. I’ve only worked with one or two companies/people who haven’t disappointed me. Just take the time to really investigate who you’re collaborating with and trusting with creating content. For me, Eloquent Inc. has always done the best job creating content for me. However, I took a different route with my new website and I regret it completely. We started working on my website in September and it’s now mid-April yet I still haven’t been able to relaunch my website which is the key to my entire relaunch. Unfortunately, with business it’s best to learn how to do things yourself but you will eventually have to work with someone. Just make sure the people you choose to work with respect your company the way you do.
Another thing I’ve learned, especially owning a clothing company is to never let a social media influencer take advantage of you. I can’t tell you how many people I “sponsored” in the beginning. I tried to go the extra mile for those and didn’t get much in return. I paid a Crossfit games athlete $5000.00 for travel and competition fees but she got hurt and didn’t compete or travel the entire duration of my sponsorship. Don’t get it wrong, the girl was awesome, very humble and nice but she just wasn’t worth the $5000.00 of my own money. You live and learn though. You learn you can make something of your company by yourself without having to pay anyone. You learn you can mail your clothing to athletes and they’ll wear it for free. It’s all a learning process. More than likely, if someone wants money for something and they aren’t Kim Kardashian or someone with so much influence then they probably aren’t worth it. That’s my opinion though. I choose to save my money on 2018, not waste it on sponsorships and a few Instagram shoutouts.
Finally, one of the hardest things I’ve learned was to love the process of becoming a business. I stressed out so much when I started. I would freak out when things went wrong and when collabs fell through. In the end, we’re all just trying to become successful businesses and we can’t freak out when things don’t work out. We have to learn to love our companies so much that we’d be willing to do anything for them. We have to learn to enjoy the process of becoming a trademarked brand and the process of being new. If you can’t learn to enjoy this process, the process of failure and the process of making mistakes, then you will not have a successful business. That’s all it is really, the biggest struggle to becoming a startup company is you’re really just using trial and error to figure out what’s right for your company. Enjoy that process, be patient and don’t waste your money on stupid shit like me. Until my next post, inshalla.
All photos taken by Matt Tolley📸