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So I started a clothing company...

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by bdavro23, Nov 16, 2018.

  1. bdavro23

    bdavro23 Distinguished Member

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    A couple of notes before I proceed:

    First, I've been a member for quite some time and was a long time lurker before that, but this is my first time starting a thread. If I run afoul of a rule or any of the mods take issue with content, please let me know and I will attempt to rectify the situation as soon as possible.

    Second, this is not a sales pitch or an effort to get my brand out there. In fact, I'll probably never mention the name of the company.

    Having said those things, why am I starting this thread? Well, like many longtime members here, I have found myself starting a side business related to something I'm passionate about. Going through the process of getting up and running has been incredibly eye-opening and I thought I would share my experience.

    I'll be posting here intermittently about different topics, probably ranting about things I've had to do or how inept I am at this whole business thing. Feel free to ask questions, offer advice, or laugh at me. Hopefully this will be fun, but if not, maybe it will be helpful to someone in the future.
     

  2. bdavro23

    bdavro23 Distinguished Member

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    If you're still reading, you may be asking, "Well what's the business"? Its a fair question, and the answer is I've started my own MTM company. Sort of like my own, vertically integrated Tom James. I found a manufacturer I like and I've spent the last couple of months working with them to create patterns. Honestly, this was the easy part. Part of that is due to it being the most interesting part, and part because it isn't like I'm Tom Ford.

    My business plan is designed to disappoint my bank manager and to be a hobby for me. The idea is to sell to friends and family, and slowly build up referrals through those experiences. There may be a website down the road, but for the time being, this is really an opportunity for me to have a creative outlet with a business I care about.

    Coming up in future posts, I'll delve into the fascinating world of LLCs, payment processing and domain names...
     

  3. Caustic Man

    Caustic Man Stylish Dinosaur

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    This may turn out to be an interesting thread, indeed.
     

  4. pleatedjeans

    pleatedjeans Senior Member

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    Sounds interesting, looking forward to what you learn - the "Discussions in the Fashion Industry" thread and then comments from industry folks like Despos, Nickpollica, NMWA etc are always the best content on this forum by far
     

  5. othertravel

    othertravel Distinguished Member

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    Where is the factory located?
     

  6. Bromley

    Bromley Senior Member

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    Cool idea for a thread. Will be especially interesting to follow along if you do keep things anonymous on here (even if everyone knows Ted Danson is Anonymous).

    What did creating patterns involve on your part?
     

  7. bdavro23

    bdavro23 Distinguished Member

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    China.

    I plan on being very transparent about this with my customers as well. I chose a factory in China over the US, or Italy, or Mexico, or Bulgaria, etc, for a number of reasons. First, I'm really pleased with what this factory is able to produce. The samples we created are exactly what I was looking for and the level of handwork available (for a price of course) fits with what I want to provide.

    Obviously, price is a factor. As this is a hobby for me and not replacing my W2 gig, being able to offer a lot of value for money is important to me. Would I use Sartoria Formosa if the price was the same? Maybe. Probably. Who knows.

    I looked at a lot of makers before deciding to go with this group and I'm happy with the decision.
     

  8. bdavro23

    bdavro23 Distinguished Member

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    In short, defining the look or silhouette. I'm not a tailor nor a pattern maker, so the design process largely revolved around me talking about the things that I wanted to achieve and the pattern makers telling me what was possible. Honestly, the first go wasn't great and the learning curve was steep. I feel what I learned is invaluable in terms of helping me translate my design ideas into something that is wearable for both business and pleasure.

    With that said, its MTM, so there's quite a degree of customization available if someone is so inclined.

    I'll never be Chris Despos or Jeffrey D, but that's not why I'm doing this.
     

  9. bdavro23

    bdavro23 Distinguished Member

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    I need a business manager...

    I don't really, but the number of things you have to do when starting a small business is surprisingly long. I guess I never really gave it much thought, but people who start successful small businesses tend to work really hard. I know that sounds silly when you say it out loud as it seems obvious, but the actual business of selling clothes, or coffee, or consulting services etc, is just a portion of the work that has to be done. Opening bank accounts and researching which business credit card to apply for takes time and effort. Learning about accounting software and licensing requirements for the states you plan on doing business in takes time. All of these things need to be done to create the foundation of your business.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is that this experience has been humbling in a very productive way and has given me a new respect for people who grind it out on a daily basis.

    (For those interested, I've found the Spark card from Capital One to be the best fit for my business needs)
     

  10. bdavro23

    bdavro23 Distinguished Member

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    I wanted to take a moment to talk about branding.

    I will freely admit to a degree of naivety with many of the tasks that I've been presented with during the process of opening this business. I am not a huge fan of social media for a number of reasons. In fact, Styleforum is really the only "social" media that I routinely use, and my wife and I have no other online presence to speak of, save for professional affiliations. While I designed our logos, I knew I needed some professional digital help in translating my ideas into the appropriate formats for printing, web applications, labels, etc. So, I met with a number of graphic designers and branding people to get their ideas.

    I suppose I should have expected it, but I was still taken aback by their laser focus on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat. I am very aware of the importance of marketing and product positioning, but at the same time, I didn't start this little company because I wanted to sell an IG presence. I started it because I want to sell custom clothing to friends, family, other clothing nerds and those connected to this spider's web. I want to meet with those people and have conversations about improving their wardrobe or creating something special for a specific occasion.

    I'm sure that at some point I will have to create an online presence for this company, if only a little one. There's no sense in having a company if finding it is like trying to find the A-Team. I'm certain that if I were relying on this company to feed my family, I would have a different perspective about this topic and I would embrace social media as a tool. For right now though, it feels right to be more analog about this and talk to people face to face.
     

  11. Patrick R

    Patrick R Distinguished Member

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    One issue with branding, you need to make sure what you use doesn’t infringe any third party rights. You don’t want to get on a roll and suddenly find out you have to rebrand because the name you’ve been using is owned by someone else.

    As an IP attorney that has worked with more than 950 startup businesses in the last decade and has successfully started and exited a few businesses and have been running my own small business/law firm for the last decade, I’d be happy to speak with you over the phone and make sure you aren’t making any mistakes on the branding issues. If you’re interested, just PM me and we’ll set up a call.

    Good luck with the business.

    Edit: I didn’t specify, but I would not charge you for my input.
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2018

  12. Marc Voorhees

    Marc Voorhees Senior Member

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    Subscribed. Fascinating story so far!
     

  13. Mr. Moo

    Mr. Moo Boxercise Toughguy

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  14. bdavro23

    bdavro23 Distinguished Member

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    PM sent.

    This is an incredibly kind offer and I am very appreciative of the assistance. Thank you!
     

  15. WillingToLearn

    WillingToLearn Distinguished Member

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    There are lots of folks on here with some experience in small business and I will bet you'll get lots of support and ideas. Subcsribed and excited for you.
     

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