Ever wanted to start your own clothing brand, but didn’t know where to start from? Worry no more! Ryan Kovach, one of the founders of freshly-brewed clothing company Beau is giving excellent tips to all of you beginners, so this article is enriched by their own experience.
Without change, the world would do nothing but sit still. Change is important and, in order to create a powerful brand that you and your customers are proud of, change is essential.
If creating your very own brand is something you want to do, a change must occur. You have to stop playing Nazi Zombies and Super Smash Brothers and finally start learning towards creating your own line. Don’t get too scared though, you will still have a little time to kill a few zombies because Beau is here to help organize some of the load. Last summer, I was in the same boat and I came up with a massive list of things to accomplish in order for Beau to launch. I broke up everything I needed to accomplish and learn into 3 sections: brand, website, and legal. Each one of these sections also had subsections, and most of the subsections had subsections. To put it simply, there was a lot I needed to learn. Now I am here to help break each of these sections down.
Assuming that you are making your own brand, you probably have an idea of what your brand is going to be about. It is key that your brand fills a niche, or offers something that is not already offered. I broke down what I needed to do regarding my brand into a few different components: logo, planning, and shirts.
Logo – when making a logo, you want to create something that depicts your brand, but also incorporates what your brand is about. With Beau, our logo was created to show our minimalists designs and the simplicity behind it all. A logo is a key part, it’s what people recognize and what they tell their friends. By having a memorable logo, your brand will stay fresh in the consumer’s mind;
Planning – for Beau and most indie start-up lines, the finances behind everything are limited. Personally, Beau was brought to life by the two of us working all summer long. A sacrifice has to be made. Currently we are college students and are making ends meet financially out of our own pockets. We put all of our funds towards bringing our fans and customers the best possible product we can. Don’t let it scare you though, it’s a very rewarding feeling to have somebody enjoying what you put a lot of hard work and time into. The key is to create a plan, like I am drawing out here, with your finances. Microsoft Excel is a great tool to keep track of everything. The best tip I can give you is to be as organized as possible;
Shirts – you may want to have people loving something you made but, without being able to put your brand goals into designs, it is going to be pretty hard to achieve that with clothing. Neither of us at Beau are Picasso; hell, we can barely color inside the lines. But that doesn’t have to stop you. There are countless resources available to help put your ideas into .psd’s ha ha… We were lucky enough to have a buddy of ours, Cameron Hagedon, aka one hell of an artist and designer, help us. Places like mintees.com (successor of now defunct emptees.com) are places where you can find talented artists. If you don’t know any artists personally, they can help you create your clothing’s art. Just remember that there are always resources out there to utilize;
Printing – do your research, our biggest tool was google. We lived on sites like bandwagonmerch, and t-shirtforums just asking questions and gathering information. Prior to Beau, I knew nothing about plastisol inks. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Email anybody and everybody whom you think would have valuable information. God knows how many emails I wrote just acquiring information on what material went best with what inks and what tagging sizes were recommended for each size of shirt. One tip for everybody: American Apparel. It is just gold made of fabrics. Everybody loves it and, frankly, if you are selling to somebody who doesn’t know much outside of Gildans and Hanes, they will put your shirt on and fall in love. Most likely, they will never take it off;
Shipping – if you plan on shipping out shirts, which most indie’s do, packaging is the last chance to make a positive impression. If financially possible, make something amazing and memorable. However, for most cases, including Beau, that is hard to accomplish. Just remember, with every penny you earn, put that penny back into your brand. Including packaging. But, until then, make sure your shipping does not hurt your image. Make sure it’s secure, doesn’t fold, and makes it there quickly. Uline.com provides a lot of products for packing, folding, and shipping your shirts nice and neatly.
The first thing a consumer will see is the quality of the site. Bigcartel.com and Storeveny.com provide a great template and a cart. If you know web design at all, you know that building a fully functional cart is kind of a hassle. For Beau, we were forced to pick up a CSS book and learn from scratch in order to make our site stick out from the cookie cutter bigcartels of the world. Jquery is no fun, but there are plenty of tutorials online that help teach. Sohatonaka.com is one of my personally favorites. Soh is a genius and very helpful as well. As for CSS, check out this site; again a lifesavior. If possible, we advise that you leave it to the professional and shell out the dough.
Domain – as far as domain names go, try and purchase one that is unique and memorable. If that happens to be your brand name, perfect. For Beau, we went with thebeautee.com as a little play on words to create the ”beauty” in a sense. And if you do decide to use a bigcartel, the folks over at indielabs are very helpful at providing setup to link your new domain name.
At first we thought this would be one of the most difficult parts, it turns out it was the opposite. Make sure to get a hold of people who know something about business law. Local/family accountant, lawyer or, in our case, your business professor ha ha…
You can figure out a lot of the basics via google and forums, but legalities are not something you want to mess up on. It would be the biggest buzz kill to have to shut down everything you have worked so hard for just because you didn’t fill out the right paperwork. From our experiences we have learned a little. You should be alright with just a DBA, but you’re much better off filing for a Limited Liability Corp. (LLC). But again, check with a pro.
The biggest thing to take out of all of this is to sit on your computer and do hours upon hours of research. Become an expert in your niche and field. We are not saying we are, but we are striving to be. And another thing, there are tons of people willing to help you. When you tell anybody in your community that you’re going on this adventure, they will do almost anything to help along the way. Don’t waste that help, it’s a life saver. Never be afraid to email and ask questions!
Did you like what Ryan had to say here? Have your own experience? Don’t hesitate to inform us by leaving your comment below. Thank you!