Hello! My name is Paul Dickey and I launched an apparel brand, Spuds, this past year after raising our initial funding through Kickstarter. We are focused on creating performance apparel built to be worn anywhere.
I have taken the time to take a step back to write 5 of the most important things I have personally learned through this journey to hopefully help out others as they get to this point as well.
1. Even if things go well at the start, don’t take it for granted.
You may be able to raise some money to start or have a successful launch with hundreds of orders, but never take that momentum for granted.
There will also be that initial bump that you experience on launch but it will soon die off, especially if you don’t keep up your own momentum.
Never become too confident that what you have done will continue to work. You must continuously see new places to market, push upon ones that work, and be consistent with what you do.
People like launches of new things, but you must continue to keep up that spark of interest for people throughout your journey, and never rest on your laurels. Find the specific items that have caused the spark you may have initially found, and double-down on those items. We found that a lot of people have been wearing our shorts for more outdoors / hiking activities. Instead of continuously focusing on selling to everyone, we have started to dial down our focus to the ones that caused our spark to try to continue it.
2. Test the waters, don’t just expect what you like to be what everyone else likes.
You may see other brands and see that what they are doing is working for them, and decide you want to try it too. Some things you may be planning for may be harder than you originally thought, and may not work out. One of the most difficult things I found, that many other brands are already doing, was being able to have a full-blown social media content strategy while trying to hit all other forms of your marketing strategy. A lot of the things you think brands are doing to directly sell their product, such as post a lot on social media, may not work for your situation. Adapt to be able to find what works for you and your marketing strategy, without just copying what you see.
You assume that since other people like their idea, they will like yours as well. Whatever idea you may have, whether it is a brand new one or a niche within an existing industry, has to be tested with others for feedback.
Constantly look for constructive criticism and take that feedback in a way that can help you further improve your idea and validate it. Instead of taking your product and handing it out to anyone and everyone, determine who your target audience is first, and then focus on their comments and concerns. By creating a product to answer specific audiences’ needs, you can get the feedback that is actually helpful versus feedback from audiences’ opinions that you aren’t even targeting.
Of course you need to trust yourself, but in the end, others are buying the product from you, and you need to make sure that people are willing to buy what you are offering.
3. Don’t keep changing fit based on feedback.
One of the biggest mistakes I made and I have seen others make is constantly changing small details based on what people say.
Your clothing may fit a little big on one person’s body, so you make it smaller. Then it fits a bit too tight based on feedback from other users, so you make it larger again. It can be a constant back and forth that just wastes money and time. When creating your brand demographic, take into account the body type these people may have.
Find people with those body types and create your fit for a specific set of people. Do not think that you can create a single product that works for everyone.
Find your niche in sizing and stick to it, making sure every other piece fits that body type as well!
4. Focus on selling, less on making the unimportant things perfect.
One of the biggest mistakes I dealt with was focusing too much on making things perfect and not focusing solely on actually selling the product. From working on the website too much, to worrying over and over about having the perfect social media photos, not enough time was spent on the most important aspect of a startup, selling the item you have created.
Now, don’t get me wrong, these are important things to focus on, but if you aren’t spending at least 60% of your time actively doing things to sell your product, instead of just doing busy work that makes you feel like you are accomplishing something, you won’t grow at the rate you think, or want to. By actively focusing on selling the product you have made, even if the fine details are not perfect, you an start to grow to a point where you can then hire others to help delegate tasks and refine the things that may not actively sell the product.
From the start, try multiple ways to sell your product, see what works and double down on those outlets.
5. Make sure you create a product you love yourself first, it’ll make things easier to promote.
You can create a product that people give good feedback on, but you have to make sure you can stand behind it and love it yourself as well.
To be able to get behind your product and actively promote it, you essentially have to live the lifestyle your brand promotes. If you can’t do this or don’t believe in your product to the fullest (without being over-confident), it will be much harder to sell as the discipline you need when times get tough will be more difficult to find. Personally, especially in the beginning, I felt like I was continuously creating a product for someone that wasn’t myself. Whether it was the sizing or materials, I had good responses to people I had testing the product, but I myself could not seem to be as interested in it as I should have been. Eventually, I was able to adjust things more to my liking, dial in on a specific customer demographic, and am now able to have a product I actually enjoy wearing, as other people do as well.
Hopefully this can help someone out on their journey, even if they aren’t focused on creating an apparel company. Thank you, and good luck on your grind!
Our company profiles can be found at:
@wearspuds (on social media)
I can be reached at:
Want to start your own business?
Hey! 👋I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
We interview successful business owners and share the stories behind their business. By sharing these stories, we want to help others get started.
If you liked this story, join our mailing list for new interviews every Tuesday.
Interested in sharing your own story? Shoot me an email!
Are you ready to boost your revenue?
Using Klaviyo will open up a massive, untapped sales channel and bring you closer to your customers!
Level up your email marketing with Klaviyo!