A Little Self Reflection
Life is a crazy whirlwind that we choose to go through in a multitude of different ways. On the one hand, you can decide speed through everything or enjoy the moments as they come, you can live positively or negatively, focus on relationship building or possession, and the list goes on and on. In any of those cases, there are always points where we can sit back and reflect on the events that have shaped you as a person. That is where I am at this week, reflecting on several things and appreciating the growth that I have personally, and Jess and I have seen in By Your Terms.
It was just about a year ago that Jess and I decided to change our side business and branch out on our own. In Fact, our first sale of our Paging Mr. Morrow shirt came on March 30th. Prior to that, Jess had been selling LulaRoe, a women’s clothing brand, and quite successfully. I had been helping with handling the finances and taking part in the live sales through Facebook. Without diving too deep into the oft boring numbers side of a business, there are several positives and negatives to doing direct sales for a pre-established company. On the one hand, you are provided a suggested retail price and they limit the run of each design, which limits the competitive nature of the clothing industry. On the other hand, there are minimums to the quantity on orders that you have to meet and you don’t control the patterns that you get in an order. Both Jess and I came away from the experience of being a part of LulaRoe positively, realizing that there was a lot of good that came from it. But ultimately, being a consultant under a larger brand, means that you ultimately live and die by that brand. As that brand thrives, you can thrive as a consultant, but at the end of the day, you are also associated with that brand. This can be looked at both positively and negatively. There is a huge benefit to being a part of something with pre-established brand recognition. It takes a lot of the hard part of making a business successful because LulaRoe is already widely known and has a large customer base. The flipside of that is the barrier to entry as a consultant is relatively low: if you have the funds for the startup, you are in, which makes it extremely tough to differentiate yourself from every other seller, no matter what you do. In a nutshell, that was the crossroads we were at just over a year ago. We had created lasting relationships with several members of our online group and knew we didn’t want that to go away, but also knew that we needed to either be all in on LulaRoe or make a change.
The decision to leave that and start our own venture wasn’t an easy one and it was something we went back and forth with for a long time. Ultimately, for me, it came down to a few factors: 1. A fear of the unknown, and 2. Passion. Being a part of something bigger, like LulaRoe, has many perks but you ultimately live or die by the success of that company. You have no control over the existence of your business because if LulaRoe decides to close up shop, I have no means of ordering new inventory. Starting our own business allowed us to gain back that control, but we also gave up the brand recognition of LulaRoe. We were essentially back at square one, but that also allowed us to think about what we wanted to establish and create our own vision. It was a challenge that both Jess and I looked forward to. The second factor for me was finding something that I am passionate about, that will keep me motivated over the long term. I thrive off and am inspired by being able to create and learn. Starting our t shirt company meant that I could do that, and I could learn how to design in a greater capacity. Starting at square one, neither Jess or I had photoshop or an understanding of how to create custom designs and you know, SCREENPRINT. We were able to learn how to do just that which was not easy but was one of the most thrilling parts of this experience. We continue to grow this as well, learning new ways to make our production process more efficient. Recently we switched from creating screens using vinyl cut by a cricut machine, to using phot emulsion to create the screen. The whole thing is a really boring process that I am really excited about because it means we can create a better quality and more detailed print.
Lastly, when we started this whole thing, we had a specific vision in mind. We wanted to create something on our own that was more than just t shirts. We wanted to share our lives with everyone, whether it be through this blog, our podcast, or (soon to come) videos on YouTube. We want to share our lives and interact with anyone and everyone. We have worked hard to live by our motto; Print, Shop, and Live By Your Terms.