A college dorm startup of apparel T shirt company

A story of someone who started T shirt business while in college ...

I started an apparel business in college before I had an internship and the knowledge I have now as a recent graduate. Here is what I would have done differently:


1. Would Not Have Done T-shirts

It was a money pit in a very saturated market that needed much more than a cool logo and catchy tagline for people to resonate with. (a logo which is tattooed on my body)

I would have started a blog which is much cheaper and useful to practice SEO and Google Analytics. I might even be employed at the moment!!!

2. Extensive Planning

Finding the smallest viable market instead of pandering to the masses. Being more specific with the brand story and tailoring content to that brand idea.

o My product is for people who believe_______

o I will focus on people who want_______

o I promise that engaging with my content with help you _________

S/O Seth Godin’s “This is Marketing”

Laying out an XY axis to compare my brand to competitors at the same stage of development. Not very productive comparing my “business” to big boys like Tommy Bahama and Vineyard Vines. Also, an actual laid out marketing plan.

One of my small successes was gaining followers on IG, 350+ in two months with a modest 16% engagement rate, but I was pushing content out as quickly as creating it and found it unsustainable with changing circumstances. I wish I had compiled content before launch, so I had a cushion. TL;DR Patience.

Followers do not create value.

Finding the right platform – started with a website, but it was costly to keep up so I shifted to Etsy which was slightly more successful (9 sales WHOOP WHOOP). I wish I had done that from the jump.

3. Knowing When to Quit

Proud I persevered but wish I had shifted focus sooner.

I was in denial about the uniqueness of my offering, that it was merely a substitute for no one rather than a solution for someone.

Sounds pessimistic, but I started Oceanfront to learn through trial and error, and in that way I succeeded. Mostly by error. A wise man once said "In our business, we do not call it failure. We call it testing."

I got Google Analytics/Ads & Hootsuite certified, improved my Photoshop and web design skills, learned what it took to manage a social media presence, connected with some cool content creators, sought advice from my professors and most importantly, discovered that marketing was the field I truly had a passion for, bringing me to this incredible subreddit.

Honestly I’m pretty shocked it takes a pretty special person to admit to all these failures as you have. I’m sure you learned a lot. I was in a similar position. A clothing company was my first business and I dumped about 5k into it. A lot to me at the time. It was a complete failure but I did teach myself photoshop pretty well. Photoshop alone has paid itself 10x in my next ventures and I wouldn’t have been able to do what I am now. So if you can learn something

Everything is a money pit. Everything is live character testing. Everything is learning by failure. In the end, the automation world leaves not much work to be done ... so everyone needs to be entrepreneurs - it is called "taking care of your own job man".

One guy I knew made money this way 12 years ago. He bought things from someone, doubled the price, and setup a SEO bait shop - he quickly made a few millions and now is a tech entrepreneur. That method only worked for a year, and he caught it, because he had lost a fortune with his first startup.

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Further questions

Investigate the case of "Sparkling Ice" water company.

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