Hi, my name is Greg and I am the co-owner of The PinkNChewy T-Shirt Co. (www.pinknchewy.com). We have been in existence for a little over a year and I am here to tell you all about some of the major mistakes we made when starting out so that you can maybe avoid some of the pitfalls when you start your company. We all make mistakes, but if we can limit them, then hopefully we put ourselves in a better situation to succeed.
Probably our biggest mistake…we kept waiting til everything was PERFECT before we launched. It is never going to be perfect. No matter how big of a perfectionist, no matter how much legwork you put into it, it will never be absolutely flawless. You don’t want to launch half assed, though. Legwork and preparation are key, but the over-preparing is what needs to be limited. Something is always going to come up. Something is always not going to be to your liking, but end of the day, you can’t become successful and take your brand to where you want it to go until you start SELLING. We waited and waited to launch. Wanted our website to be perfect, wanted to make sure we had enough items for our launch. We were going to be HUGE right from the start if we took all these steps. Right? Wrong. The truth of the matter, we ended up launching in November. A t-shirt company in Chicago launching in November. Crappy timing to say the least. And we had most of our designs done and ready to be sold a few months earlier, but we kept waiting.
This goes back to the point of selling. You don’t need a full line to start out. What you need is a good well thought out idea and a few kickass designs that flow together. We launched with almost 20 designs. We were ambitious. We wanted it all right from the start. Truth of the matter, we should have been selling, selling, selling long before our website launched. Grass roots style. Take a backpack and your shirts and start going out to your network of friends. Take them to bars. Be friendly. Provided your stuff is cool then people like to support people who are trying to hustle. We probably could have sold out a few of our designs right from the get go if we would have just not waited til everything launched. And in doing so, we would have had more money to try to get this all off the ground. You don’t need a website to sell. I mean eventually, yes…you want one, but don’t say “Oh, I can’t sell my shirts yet” just cuz your website isn’t finished.
And something that you should think about long before you ever print your first shirts…decide what you want to be. What do you want your brand to be? Brand cohesion is key. Try not to be all over the map. Be consistent. It’s not to say some of your awesome ideas can’t be used later on. But try to stick to a theme. Our theme is Stylishly Inappropriate. We try to make shirts that are not only funny, but with an awesome quality shirt and a nice vintage style print. And in my opinion, we nailed the funny. We nailed the stylish, but some of our shirts didn’t fit in with the others. On their own, they were funny and cool, but when you are trying to get people to recognize and understand your brand, you don’t want things that stand out on their own. You want your brand to be understood as a whole.
One of the last mistakes we made prior to launch was that we were trying to be everything to everybody. We were trying to target all markets and all demographics. We wanted to make sure we weren’t going to offend this group or make something cool enough for that group. Blah blah blah. It finally all clicked when we finally said “F it” and we became who we are today. Know your target market, but more importantly, realize your target market isn’t going to be every demographic. What is cool to Person X isn’t going to be cool to Person Y. And at the end of the day, you don’t care about Person Y because they are never going to understand your product and won’t be your customer. So focus on who you want to sell to and sell to those people. That is how you build your brand and grow. And who knows, maybe after it becomes cool enough and well known, you will finally be able to branch into those other markets that weren’t interested in you at first…but that is years down the road and shouldn’t concern you now.
So those are a few of the bigger mistakes we made along the way. Hopefully you can learn from them and improve your own launch. Realize that mistakes happen. Don’t dwell on them, but make sure you learn from them. Having a brand is a giant pain and takes lots and lots of work to build it, but it is highly rewarding when you start seeing it take off and have people buying your shirts in other parts of the country or foreign countries (someone in Hong Kong bought one just yesterday). It is a trip. Enjoy it.