My 5 Laws To Start a Clothing Company
Posted November 02nd, 2010 by Peter Takis
My 5 Laws To Starting a Clothing Company
As you may know by now I'm launching my first business, Local Advancers on November.6th.
It was a confusing journey, especially for myself being just 15 with no knowledge of how this crazy business works. In fact I was just 14 when I started working on this brand, my parents are very supportive and tried to help, but I wanted to do as much on my own as possible. Yes, that does mean saving and spending just over a thousand dollars in that year. For anyone that amount of money is a lot, but especially for a 15 year old that 1K was a huge figure. I felt great pride that I can save all that on my own, and making $200.00 mistakes didn't hurt me nearly as much as it would have if it was my Dad's hard earned cash.
Anyways, back to this article. I recently read "Do You" by Russell Simmons, the founder of Phat Farm Clothing Company. The book offered his 12 Laws to being truly successful. It was one of the most powerful reasons to why Local Advancers isn't just a pipe dream, but a reality. I thought I should "pay it forward" and give my friends on empties MY personal 5 Laws I used to start Local Advancers. If this inspires you, please pay it forward again and write your own laws on whatever you think can help others.
1. Visualize Every Detail -
When I visualize Local Advancers, I see a truly classic americana inspired brand. My vision includes spreading the message for advancement to the masses. Today everyone wants their brand to be limited edition, independent or online only. They seem to all think brands sold at Zumiez or available at malls are unoriginal or a brand full of "sell outs". Both sides are not right or wrong. But during my visualization process I seen the opportunity to make Local advancers, a classic activist brand available to skateboarders for the first time ever. I see my brand creating a new category of activism, I like to call the "everyday advancer". I honestly see the warehouse nowâ€¦. pumping out boxes and boxes of Local Advancers to every corner of the globe. This picture is in such detail, I can't imagine it NOT happening.
Don't get me wrong this step was fuzzy to me for a long time hens the skulls and snakes you'll see in this line. I truly didn't see the vision clearly until the "Moving Forward" tee was made. That tee was truly my vision.
***Become inspired by your vision of the future, but stay PRESENT and focus on the path to success rather than the end point.
2. Do You -
I like speaking my voice through apparel, I like activism through graffiti art, I don't like big bold designs. That's me, to be honest if the fashions gods told me today that big bold all over prints are back in, I would keep selling 1 colour classy designs. Even if just 2 shirts sold, I would feel better than selling 2000 shirts that I would never wear in public. Plus even if I sold out those 2000 shirts, when the fashion gods snap their fingers again and simple americana is back in, I would have lost a lot of credibility. In the words of Russell Simmons "Do You!" Stick to your vision no matter how the market changes, this will give your brand the best gift of all, longevity.
An example of "Doing You" -
One of my favorite artist to date is Mr. Greg Abbot. He is my art idol, I always sit back and say what an imagination! For the longest time I "knew" I wanted his art on my tees. I saved and saved to afford to hire him, but before a major purchase I always ask myself "Is This Me, Is This My Vision" and even though his art is beautiful, creative and fun it didn't match my vision for Local Advancers. I'm not saying that I will never hire Greg for a tee or two, but my vision is in such detail and I'm so conscious of what is "me" that I now know confidently that there was no room for his fun characters in my brand, right now at least.
3. Start -
This law cannot be avoided, every single company big or small has done this step. They got started! I honestly believe the reason it took me so long to get started was because I was in a good place in my life nothing to make anyone hate or critique, but starting a clothing company can be like opening a can of criticism, especially at my age. But I found once I got the courage to tell others about my venture I became much more inspired to start. When someone close to me said hows the shirts? I'd think wow! someone cares so why shouldn't I? That's what really got the ball rolling for Local Advancers.
This law is simple & short, start today. No! Start right NOW - close this article and get going with your dreams!
4. Never Less Than Your Best (Plant Good Seeds) -
This one seems so simple but is often overlooked. You think, Ill bring out a so-so launch and then when that sells out Ill finally be have enough to bring my best. Chances are that you so-so launch will see less than so-so sales. Even if you somehow sell out your less than the best product, when you finally release that "super awesome mega" launch you waited for, people will remember the debut collection of mediocre items and over look you all together. The result of that "powerful" line will do much worse than that "so-so" line months earlier.
Think about it if I choose to save a few bucks by ironing on the designs with a transfer plus use Hanes Beefy tees my customer may not see the let down until its too late, when its at their door. This customer would NEVER order again from my next line with discharge inks and american apparel tees because of that bad experience, not only he will never order again he will advise his friends to stay clear of my brand for good. Soon a chain effect will occur where your brand has a constant monkey on it's shoulder. Always remember that the cost saved in the short term is going to mean more spending in the long term to right your wrongs.
Every tee from Local Advancers is screen printed on an american apparel tee. I also have custom woven tags hand stitched by my grandma, neat hang tags and even some sick stickers added to every order.
The goal is to OVER deliver, so if you order from my brand and see something extra come, don't be surprised.
From showing tremendous quality in the artwork, to the tees them self you'll need to spend some extra start up cash. I thought I had such good ideas and was ready to start L.A back in April and launch in May. The fact was I only had 30% of what I need saved up. I was stubborn and tried to meet my May launch goal and ended up burning up time and money with nothing to show for it. At the time I didn't know american apparel was king, and screen printing was the gold standard. I was looking for the cheapest way to say "I have my very own clothing company!" I was so immature then, and I still am! To this day I'm so thankful things fell through and I escaped with most of that money. I know I'm young and new to this business so I try to be a sponge, I watched Kyle Crawford on uStream launching the FALL/WINTER of Electric Zombie which inspired me to go live on uStream to address fans of my brand. I watched Tyler from Redemption Brand win ShirtLaunch and in September and now I'm going to try to clean up in November. Another influence for my brand stems from the great author Eckhart Tolle, I read his book "Practicing the Power of Now" It was a bit confusing to me but the bottom line to the book is to focus on the present rather than thinking about the past or future.
Because I'm so new to this business, I decide to "plant good seeds" in myself through soaking up information from books and other successes in this field like Kyle, and Tyler.
5. Work Hard & Be Humble -
This is the single most important and unavoidable step in this process. You must BEAT the next best brand!
Personally I tweet non-stop, respond to emails within moments, write personal notes with every order, get those packages sent within an hour or two, write on 2 separate blogs and update all other social networks including Facebook, flickr, formspring & myspace daily. Simply put, their are no days off in my vision. Yes I am in high school and yes I do like chilling with friends but that party must NOT interrupt my vision of working hard 365 days a year. So if I see the night getting too late Ill stop and remember my vision and stick to it.
In my mind the positive energy of a great work ethic, dissolves the negative energy that haters give off.
Being humble to me means taking criticism, I get happy when a friend or fan says "you should have printed this on a tri-blend" or "use discharge next time" this can hurt peoples egos but in my mind it means someone cares enough about Local Advancers that they want to see it improve and grow with my vision.
Remember to visualize, be yourself, start now, be your best and work hard.