During the first 2 years of the brand, I was also balancing a university degree (Marketing) while building the brand and also working part time. With that aside, I know you just want to know how that period was for the brand, what was growth like, what were the struggles the brand faced and what got you through it.
Well let’s get started then hey…
To put it simply it was a bit of a blur looking back now, I do remember thinking at the time that I knew exactly what I was doing and that I had it all mapped out. I look back now and realise there was lots that I could’ve been doing differently.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing though like people always say it’s about learning in this time and that’s completely true. For example, during this period we did a lot of collection-based drops where we would buy x amount of stock and try and sell it all before moving onto the next collection. All small batch production from global wholesalers.
This was great for the brand, here’s why. The global wholesalers we were working with at the time were some of the biggest factories in Europe and USA who offered wholesale blanks. Basically, a catalogue of products which you could purchase at wholesale rates. Once the stock arrives to us in Perth, we would work with local screen printers to print our designs on them.
The fun part… I’d then spend hours on end sitting with all the stock and my great grandmothers old sewing machine and sew in all the neck and care labels into each piece of clothing. Now by now means was this the most efficient way of production. But it allowed us to achieve the following.
Amazing quality! apart from some of the neck label which may have been sewn in on a seriously bad angle ahahah – sorry if you received one of these, I was an amateur that’s for sure. But in terms of the fabric and build quality of the clothing as well as the print quality, I could confidently say that it was amazing, and I was extremely proud of it all.
In this stage of the brand having started with such a low capital investment and having little resources to be able to facilitate production at scale we had to make these certain decisions in order to keep things as lean as possible.
When I say lean, I don’t solely mean financially either as the margins on our products back during this time was quite slim due to unit costs being high (low order volumes). However, the benefit to running the business like this considering our situation was that I was able to order any volume, no matter how low, how many size and what product. This gave us great freedom to be able to put a collation of tees, hoodies and sweatpants together with multiple prints without doing huge volume through China.
I definitely still recommend this method for brands getting started as it allows you the most flexibility. However, you MUST be ready when demand increases to make the move to a larger scale custom production facility. There’s pros and cons here too which I’ll write about in a future blog.