I was inspired one day while at a local patio bar in Dallas, Texas to create a t-shirt that was simple, yet fashionable. Having no background in apparel and working a full time corporate job, I figured this would be a fun way to make money on the side. It was also somewhat my personal counter to the graphic tee era.
I don't know when the skyline design dawned on me, but I drew it on my iPad, used another app called Penultimate to color it, and pitched a local print screener to print my prototypes on the softest tri blend shirt I could find. I then went straight to Shopify to build a website because I remember Daymond John mentioning the platform on Shark Tank. Initially I put together two products on a free theme, selling out of 50 products in 72 hours all by using social media (Instagram and Facebook). Fast forward 12 months and I am now full time, projecting 6 figures in sales (if not very close to), and recently a VC firm in the Dallas area partnered up with me to really give me the power to scale.
I have now designed 31 cities, have 15 of them online, and a total of 90 across the USA we will launch over this year. I have partnered up with local Dallas Fashionista Lauren Scruggs and we have co designed 5 new products that our customers are really going to love. Shopify has blown the doors right off where I am taking my life/career.
How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?
I earned my first sales by posting my Shopify site on everyone I was friends with wall on Facebook, as well as constantly posting it to my own. I also had Instagram with a few hundred followers so I uploaded a few pics there and told them how to get it. I sold out of 50 shirts in two different colors in 72 hours, prompting my best friend to put in money so we could scale quicker than intended (paid for a theme and branded by a designer).
Online tools are the only way to market when you are a start up, you just have to be creative.
Tell us about the back-end of your business. What tools and apps do you use to run your store? How do you handle shipping and fulfillment?
The back end is pretty simple from a logistics standpoint. All of my inventory is on racks by color and city. I use the plug in "Shipping Easy" which makes my life so much easier. When an order is placed, it also goes in to the Shipping Easy dashboard which I check every morning. From there I can print out the purchase on shipping label paper I buy from Office Depot, and stick right on to the poly bag we ship in. The only tough part is picking and packing the items that have been purchased because we already offer 5 online, have 8 more in print, and an action strategy of launching 90 total.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that logistics for OTS need to be precise to save time and money. But for now, we are still a start up working hard for every dollar, so until it makes sense to work with a logistics partner such as Newgistics, we will continue to do it ourselves...welcome to the Boot Strap ;)
What are your top recommendations for new ecommerce entrepreneurs?
Have a product that people need...or at least make them THINK they need it. Be unique in your tactics of marketing it. For example: Sure, I may be selling t-shirts, but they are the softest damn shirts you can buy paired with the most powerful designs on earth. Why? Because everyone has some sort of City pride, regardless of if they live there, are from there, or had a great time there. They can relate to my product, and everyone loves a soft as hell t-shirt!