Thanks for the input on how to start an apparel brand – I really identified with the steps you mentioned.
Now that I’ve started mine, got some national-wide traction… how do I make it *click*? I want it to become my main job, other than a side-project.
1) Is it by getting distribution? Got any tips?
2) Is it by licensing the products? I feel like I’m over-protecting my brand by avoiding licensing to other countries where I won’t know how many units they’ll be producing, etc. What are the main guidelines for a licensing deal?
Like I said in that post, apparel is a REALLY tough business and there’s no real magic bullet for making it “click” and unlocking growth. It takes TIME— a lot of brands that seem newish have actually been around for a long time: Supreme is 22 years old, Mishka is 13, Stussy is 36, Zumiez is 38, etc. So be patient. It will probably take many more years of grinding. You have to be willing to eat shit for a LONG time.
With that said, the best thing you can do is make friends with “cool” people (athletes, bands, artists, etc) and get them to rep your shit. That’s the closest thing to a magic bullet, since ultimately the apparel game is about building up the image so that people see your brand as their ticket to eating lunch with the cool kids. Go to every party you can, every show you can, hang out with as many cool people you can, get them to like you, and the rest will fall into place. It’s pretty hard to have this lifestyle without becoming a crappy person so watch out for that.
If you’re thinking “apparel sounds like a glorified popularity contest,” then you’re absolutely right! That’s exactly what it is.
I’m moving in the next week from a small business where I ran EVERY part of the online sales process to a large corporation where I’ll be part of a growing team. What are some tips you think would be helpful for the transition?
The biggest difference is probably going to be way more structure than you’re used to— which can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your personality. Personally I like structure, but some people hate it.
At a small company you usually wear a lot of different hats and and have a little more room to do things your own way. At a big company, roles are very clearly defined and you pretty much need to fall in line. Your role is just to do the best you can with whatever comes across your desk— nothing more, nothing less.
The main tip I have is, keep your mouth shut. Don’t ask too many questions about why things are the way they are, just do what you’re asked to do. Definitely don’t offer your opinions on how things SHOULD be done! Also, don’t let yourself get frustrated/annoyed with things that seem dumb to you. At a big company you’re just a cog in the machine, and you don’t have any control over how the machine works so your best move is to just let it go.
Hope that helps, let me know how it goes!