Overcome These 4 Fears About Selling Apparel Right Now

When Howard Potter, CEO of Utica, NY-based A&P Master Images, first started his decorated-apparel business, he operated from a 15-foot-by-15-foot room in his house. “In the beginning, I sold apparel mostly from catalogs and ordered samples to show customers only when I needed them,” he says.

As his business grew, he increased his showroom space—from 8 feet on a wall, to an 8-by-10 area, and then to a large 20-by-20 showroom. “We created a better layout and experience for our customers to view products,” Potter says. “But when we didn’t have tons of space to show actual garments, we didn’t let that become a block to stop us from selling.”

Potter focused on a couple of things: showing clients the most popular and effective mid-level and up styles in a variety of colors, plus recommending apparel and decoration unique to each client’s needs. “We want them to know that we aren’t trying to make them look like everyone else,” Potter says.

Many distributors and decorators, who’d like to sell more apparel, need to overcome their fears about selling it (even more so than overcoming their customers’ objections).  Luckily, we’re here to help you get past the four most common challenges we’ve heard about.

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The Power of Networking for Small Business Growth

A common misconception is that you only need to network when in search of a new job. However, the reality is that networking and face-to-face interactions are crucial for any small business’ continued success. As an entrepreneur, connecting with new people is a necessary skill for growth.

We’ve listed out why networking is important and some best practices to help you get the most out of the experience.

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Setting Customer Expectations for Optimal Screen Printing Designs

In the screen printing business, quality customer service and the ability to retain clients can have a huge impact on your bottom line. While many companies operate based on the coined phrase, “the customer is always right,” it doesn’t mean clients should walk all over your business or exploit your services. Part of operating a successful business is creating reasonable customer expectations upfront—especially when it comes to screen printing designs.

The customer is always right, doesn't mean clients should walk all over your business or exploit your services. Click To Tweet

Educating the client early about any artwork limitations helps build brand trust, ultimately leading to repeat customers. The last thing you want is an angry phone call after the fact if misprints are found, making the client feel like they didn’t get the best service. For optimal screen printing designs that will create a flawless print, we’ve listed six key elements to discuss with the client before the artwork is submitted or a design quote is requested.

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4 Ways to Improve Your Website’s Google Search Ranking

You’ve worked hard to create a meaningful business—from your company’s values to your reputable customer service. So, why aren’t more people trickling into your online doorstep? If you haven’t updated your website in a while (or ever), your online visibility could be suffering. 

Google’s search engine utilizes an algorithm to rank web pages. A variety of methods are taken into account when determining which pages are displayed first, including whether a website is outdated. The exact formula is unknown, however, there are search engine optimization (SEO) tactics and tools that can improve your website’s ranking. With 75 percent of people never scrolling past the first search engine result page, it’s extremely important
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From Skate Shop to Fashion Powerhouse: Business Lessons From Supreme’s Rise

Supreme, often referred to as “the Chanel of streetwear”, has inched its way to the top as one of the most influential brands in the industry. A-list celebs, skaters, cool kids, hip-hop legends and hypebeasts alike can be seen donning the infamous red-and-white logo. So, how did a small skate shop on Lafayette Street in downtown Manhattan turn into a complete fashion powerhouse? Ask savvy entrepreneur, James Jebbiathe founder of Supreme.  

Jebbia was a teen in the ‘80s growing up in Crawley, West Sussex, England. He used his spare money to travel to London and shop at a hidden store, which would eventually mold Supreme’s business model. By age 19, he moved to the United States and started working as a sales assistant at a store in SoHo, before eventually opening Supreme in New York.

While you probably won’t be able to replicate Jebbia’s secret business sauce, we’ve listed some valuable lessons in Supreme’s rise that can be used to help shape your company:

Do Your Research

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James Jebbia learned about the retail industry when working at Parachute in SoHo. Before opening Supreme in 1994, he actually opened a different streetwear brand, Union NYC (now closed), in 1989. All this to say, he had a bit of experience in the retail industry before starting a wildly successful company.

Wanting to start your own brand can be exciting, but always make sure you research the industry before diving head first into the unknown. Some basic things you should know:

  • Where to find quality, wholesale apparel and products  
  • How to price your products competitively  
  • Ways to sell your items

Beyond just researching how the industry works, know your target audience and what matters to them. By 2020, Millennials will make up 30 percent of total retail sales in the U.S., and Gen Z will make up 40 percent of all consumers. Studies have shown that both Millennials and Gen Z consider environmental issues in their purchasing decisions. So, if you’re looking to sell graphic tees, considering water-based, eco-friendly ink choices may be a unique selling point.

Get Scrappy With Your Hustle (And Build Street Cred)

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Supreme is infamous for giving fashion the middle finger—proven by several cease-and-desist letters. It’s also known for encouraging its employees and consumers to add their red-and-white logo stickers on posters and products as a “stamp of approval”. For example, they slapped their logo sticker on the front of a Kate Moss Calvin Klein poster in 1994, and printed Louis Vuitton’s double monogram on their skateboards in 2000 (though they eventually collaborated). Jebbia’s willingness to ruffle a few feathers in the name of creativity built credibility with niche, influential cool kids and it payed off.

Now, we’re not saying to start copyrighting a bunch of artwork, but there is something to be said about Supreme’s hustle and scrappiness. Some ways you can spread the word about your company on a smaller budget include:

  • Partnering with micro-influencers who are willing to promote your brand for a small cost, or exchange promoted posts for free swag
  • Creating short promo videos to post across social media
  • Reaching out to small businesses (relevant to your target audience) to see if you can leave promo cards at the counter

Realize that Culture Shapes Trends, Especially Youth Culture

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Almost every piece from a Supreme drop has ties to art or culture. They have a way of partnering with brands like Nike and infusing their vibe to create a totally unique outfit for the young fashion consumer.

Art and culture always find their way into what we wear and how we represent ourselves, leading to a shared sense of influence. By continually having a pulse on what’s going on in the community, Supreme is able to present apparel and products that are desirable. When thinking of new designs, look to what’s going on in your community for creative inspiration. However, always remember to remain authentic to your brand.

When thinking of new #designs, look to what’s going on in your community for creative #inspiration. However, always remember to remain authentic to your #brand. Click To Tweet

Know the Power of Supply-and-Demand

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Supreme is good at many things, and utilizing basic economics to its advantage is no exception. James Jebbia was once quoted saying, “…if we can sell 600, I make 400.” The demand for product always exceeds the supply, thus driving up the value. Though, in Supreme’s case, they take it a step further by almost never restocking a dropped collection once it’s sold out (hence the huge resell market).

If you’re just starting out, your demand for product is likely low so this may not be a tactic you can use right away. However, educating yourself on supply-and-demand economics will ultimately help you make strategic business decisions in the long run, particularly as your business grows and competition rises.

Which business lesson from Supreme was the most helpful or interesting? Let us know in the comments!

The Importance of Saving Money

The most basic tenant of business is that to be successful, you must earn more than you spend. But even more important is saving money for a rainy day—and the current climate is a perfect example of why. COVID-19, also known as coronavirus, is wreaking havoc on all businesses, but especially local businesses. All of this is forcing  local businesses to adjust their hours or even close to comply with local health ordinances. Many are losing money and could certainly benefit from some extra money in the bank.

Photo Credit: U.S. Embassy Nairobi / Public domain

No one knows this better than FUBU founder Daymond John. In 1992, he returned from the company’s first retail trade show with $300,000 in pre-orders—but didn’t have the money he needed to get those orders to customers. He tried applying for a loan but wasn’t sure how to fill out the paperwork. He was rejected by 27 banks and eventually turned to his mother, who mortgaged her home for $100,000. This move paid off: FUBU went on to generate $350 million in revenue over the next six years.

“I got my first piece of advice when I was 22 years old, from a guy who owned a little bodega in my neighborhood,” John said in an Inc. article. “He told me, ‘If you really want to start a company, you better dig under your couch for a couple of extra dollars; you’ve got to stop going out to dinner four times a month; you’ve got to trade in your car for a cheaper one, and raise that $40,000 or $30,000, if you can, by yourself.’”

Every business, no matter how big or small, should be saving money. Business Daily outlined some common excuses that small business owners make for why they can’t save money. Let’s take a look at these and learn more about why they’re so misguided.

Excuse 1: I need to make more money before I can save.

As long as you’re making more money than you’re spending, you should be saving. You’ll always find a new excuse not to save, even when your revenue increases. Try saving a percentage of each month’s revenue and increase that percentage as your revenue goes up.

Excuse 2: I need to save for something specific.

Sure, you might want to save for something specific, like new equipment or remodeling your store. But you shouldn’t let that prevent you from saving money for unexpected expenses, like water damage due to a burst pipe or lack of foot traffic due to a global health crisis. There’s no telling why you might need some “just in case” money, which is why it’s so important to have it in the bank.

Excuse 3: How do you save when spending is so tempting?

Having money in the bank makes it more tempting to spend. Spending money is necessary and, yes, fun. But, it’s also incredibly satisfying watching the amount in your business savings account continue to increase. Try to resist the temptation to make impulse buys, or remove the temptation completely by taking your savings out of a traditional account and putting your money into investment or fixed-deposit accounts, which produce greater returns.

Excuse 4: Cash flow is tight; I can’t afford to save.

Yes, you can—even if it’s a small amount. You’ll be glad you did when the day comes that you need to dip into your savings. Try setting a financial goal and take small, manageable steps to achieve it.

Excuse 5: I don’t have any disposable cash to save.

Business Daily lists several ideas to help free up funds to save:

  • Share office space with another small business or adopt a virtual business model.
  • Run your business from the cloud—it means avoiding expensive hardware and the staff to maintain it.
  • Pay invoices on time and avoid late payment fees
  • Cut down on meetings and focus on strategic functions instead.
  • Outsource work such as design and copywriting rather than hiring a full-timer.
  • Hire interns to help out with admin work.

No matter how big or small your business may be, one fact remains the same: start saving now. If the day comes that you need to dip into your extra cash, you’ll be glad you did.