I’ve been asked by a couple of people about tips I have in starting a business. Most people that ask me these questions are those who are wanting to start a clothing brand, but these tips can be helpful for any business. I feel the best way to answer this question is through a blog post. Here are my 5 tips in starting a business.
TIP 1 - LOOK AT YOUR CONNECTIONS
When I first started STAY, I had no idea how to source products, how to design, how to photograph, how to do social media, how to build a following, and many more. However, I had friends and family that either knew one thing or another so I asked for their help and learned from them. If you don’t know how to do something, ASK someone you personally know because they will more than likely be willing to help you.
What if you don’t have connections? BE SOCIAL! Most of my contacts came about while running my business. I was very blessed to be able to run into certain people during my college experience to take STAY to the next level. I asked my roommate how to use Illustrator and build a website. I made connections with other entrepreneurs at events and booths that helped me find places to source. I reached out to models and photographers on social media that were interested in the brand and wanted experience in working with a clothing brand. These are just a few examples of the ways you can start building your connections.
TIP 2 - BE UNIQUE IN WHAT YOU OFFER
It’s hard to be original these days because most ideas come from being influenced by things you see or experience. In the book Steal Like an Artist, the author writes, “What a good artist understands is that nothing comes from nowhere. All creative work builds on what came before. Nothing is completely original.” This concept may be hard to accept, but it’s honest. It’s helped me through times when I’ve been criticized for my branding and designs that may appear similar to another. (Tip 3 can help you see what I’m talking about.)
Even though making a clothing brand isn’t unique, how your style, branding, and message make it unique and help you stand out from other brands. For example, the triangle “A” in STAY isn’t original and we know of many companies that use it, but our use of STAY is unique in how we combine it with a positive lifestyle, important causes, and simple designs. It’s the combination of all of these that make it unique.
TIP 3 - RESEARCH
One thing I am grateful for when I first started STAY is to research the market you are going into. I looked into the market I was interested in that had big players like RVCA, Brixton, Obey, Volcom and saw what they were doing because I wanted to be as successful as them. I would look at inside tags and labels to know what words to say and where products were sourced. I looked at their styles to see what was trending at the time. I would also look at their websites to see their layouts, photography, pricings, etc. just to know what the online market was demanding. This helped me change from a Wordpress website to a Shopify website because I saw the trend in successful clothing brands using a platform that made shopping easier.
As much as it is important to research successful companies, I believe it is also important to research unsuccessful companies. Why unsuccessful companies? So you can know what doesn’t work and make sure you don’t make those mistakes yourself! I’ve learned from trial and error while doing STAY, but the ones I learned from doing my personal research I made sure that I avoided (I hope you do the same!).
TIP 4 - BE PATIENT
Being successful can take time. I didn’t want my family and friends to be the ONLY people buying my stuff so I started to build a following on Instagram to build up interest. I did this for about 2 months before I opened the online store for business. The first day the website launched I was so stoked that someone ordered after 30 minutes!!! I actually drove to the person’s house to drop off their order and took a picture with them to remember the first ever STAY order. Later on the first day I even had an order from Ireland! Day one I sold 3 shirts and later that week I sold 2 more. I remember thinking to myself, “What am I doing wrong? Why haven’t I sold more?”
Being patient is very key in growing a business because there will be times where low sales affect you and make you want to quit (I’ve experienced this a couple of times). Even big retail brands had patience while growing. Take Brixton for example. It took them 8 years before they were widely established in major retail stores. Hearing stories like this helped give me perspective for the years ahead and the commitment involved. It’s been 2 years now since that first day selling online, and STAY continues to grow. I am grateful for my family, friends, and fans who have motivated me through tough times to keep me focused on growing STAY for the future.
TIP 5 - TAKE A CHANCE BY STARTING TODAY
The best tip I know in starting a business it to take a chance and actually do it. I told people for years that I wanted to start my own clothing brand someday and it ended up being 10 years later till I actually started one. Make that “someday” be “today” and don’t make excuses for why you haven’t tried it out. If it doesn’t work at least you know you tried, but if it ends up successful then you can keep on doing something you love.
I wish you the best of luck in whatever you choose to do in life and remember to STAY YOU and keep doing what you love!
CEO & Founder
[PhotoCred: Bradley Davis @bradleycarl]