3 Lessons I Have Learned About Running A T-Shirt Company
Posted on 17 April 2015
Everyone secretly wants to be in some kind of fashion industry.
Society makes it look very glamorous, and parts of it are. However, there is a lot that goes into it that you don't see on Instagram. It is a lot of hard work, a lot of worry, and a lot of time thinking to yourself "why am I doing this again?" Luckily, the fans have kept New Lyfe alive and well.
Either way, the journey of New Lyfe hasn't always been fun. There have been a lot of mistakes along the way. Part of the magic of New Lyfe is the community behind our brand, so I thought it would be cool to be transparent about some lessons I have learned so that everyone can share the journey with us.
Lesson Number 1 - Poly Bag Your Merchandise
When New Lyfe first started, we had no money. At this point we make enough money to make sure we stay stocked with inventory and we are just getting to the point where the company can pay for the new designs. Most of the expenses have been out of pocket, and I feel we may have cut some corners in the beginning.
At first, we would pick up our shirts from the printer. We would fold them ourselves, and keep them on a shelf. Over time, inevitably the quality of some shirts were compromised. Dust, finger prints, and random mysterious smudges would show up on shirts.
We either didn't notice and would send them out (which would often lead to an unhappy customer), or we would find the smudges and have to trash the shirt or give it away for free. About a month ago I decided to spend the extra money to have every shirt poly bagged before it leaves the printer. This way I know, 100%, that every shirt we sell will show up at your door in mint condition.
It's something I wish I did right from the beginning. Lesson learned.
Lesson Number 2 - Showcase The Product, Not The Model
I just didn't have a clue what I was doing.
When we were putting pictures on the website, we thought we wanted to make the background of the pictures to be as bright and as colorful as possible. We would walk to different locations, drive around for hours, just to get a few pictures for the site. As a result, the products didn't stand out the way they should have.
This is all about to change.
Soon, you will see the product images on the website completely change. I need to do a better job showcasing the actual product, than the person wearing the product.
I was one of those people that thought photography was kind of a bullshit art form. All you need is an iPhone and some filters right? Wrong.
I have studied and practiced and learned as much as I can. Over the next two weeks you will see some huge changes to the website. You will also see much higher quality photographs in our marketing material. You will be seeing much more emphasis on the product, and much more emphasis on the culture of New Lyfe.
Lesson Number 3 - Know Your Shipping Rates
Once again, I didn't give shipping the respect it deserved.
I figured "how hard could it be?" You stick some shirts in a bag, print out a shipping label, and drop it off at the post office. Here is where I went wrong.
I made the standard shipping rate $6.50. The reason why was because most people buy one or two shirts at a time, and I would make a dollar or so off of shipping. However, every once in a while someone would buy 5 or so shirts. It would be a $20 shipping cost, and so in the end I would end up breaking even.
The problem was that so many people wouldn't complete the purchase because the $6.50 shipping rate was too high.
I needed to really spend time on learning the shipping rates. I needed to figure out how much it costs to ship 1 shirt, and 3 shirts and even 5 shirts. I weighed every single one of our products so that when people make an order, they are paying exactly how much it costs to ship.
I feel this way is fair for everyone. Our customers pay what it costs to ship, nothing more and nothing less.
Live and Learn
Of course I dream that New Lyfe Clothing Co. will break out and become a large company. I love the idea of having a small photo studio, and maybe hire an artist who does nothing but work on new designs. I don't aspire to be the next Marc Echo, but I feel like New Lyfe is really on the brink of becoming something big.
Recovery is awesome. The recovery community is very tight knit, and I love the idea of creating a culture around fashion that helps us celebrate who we are.
No matter what, all I can do is continue learning the lessons along the way, and applying these lessons into my life and into this company.