I always wanted to start a clothing line. It wasn’t the fame or notoriety. It was the feeling I got this summer at Cat Clarke’s Chokes by The Ocean Tournament. I saw – for the first time – a young unknown man at the time wearing my HeliOlympiko t-shirt design: I hope it wasn't pride but I was excited to see that someone thoght one of my ideas was cool enough to wear. The BJJ community continues to express interest – even purchasing – my gi’s hats, and t-shirts. But things couldn’t be more complicated. I am just beginning to discover how much more I have to learn to stay competitive in this market. I have such an uphill battle one must wonder why I am doing this. We could go on forever about what finally pushed me off the edge and into the deep end of entrepreneurial opportunity. Two events: but they are quite private for now: Instead, lets talks about the little I know on the business end and any advice you have would be greatly appreciated.
JUST SOME THINGS TO CONSIDER: Starting your own gi company: CONNECTION + CASH
1. CONNECTION: Most people go on Alibaba and see an opportunity to buy 100 high quality gi’s for $28.00 USD. Is getting the ‘connect’ really that easy. You can try. I have tried and not had any success ordering through Alibaba. I found the samples to be inferior to more reputable companies I discovered down the road (BUT NOT ALWAYS: I found one to be really good quality but poor customer relations .....) Even with reputable companies, a challenge awaits: These big companies cater to big orders. If they produce 5000 units a month ( 60,000 per year!) for KingZ Kimonos what makes me think my 100 unit order 2-3 times a year is going to be on their top priority list. The best connections are either up and coming companies or companies who have departments designed to work with smaller start–up brand (me) and provide the same quality as they do their massive accounts. That said, I purchase from China becasue I met a supplier who caters to my small order with the utmost priority, urgency, and attention to detail.. I also purchase from a smaller company in Pakistan as the bigger Pakistan companies lost sight of me (at least in my dealings).
At some point you have to get on a plane and meet your connection. If you cannot afford this then you cannot afford to be importing internationally. There is no substitute for a handshake when it comes to building a lasting and prosperous relationship. Please note most manufacturers do not share their connection for obvious reasons. That said, this is the day of information technology and I can assure you all the information is at your finger-tips.
2. CASH: New businesses eat money. There is always something that needs to be addressed; something more to be purchased (equipment, advertising, TIME, customs, shipping, sponsorships, then all the stuff you never think of that adds up to a small fortune.... And THEN: the working capital: Initially, we invested in hats and patches and t-shirts and sales are slow and margins are low. That’s nothing compared to gi sales though: Companies want 50% prior to production. Production can take up to 30-40 days. The company then wants their last 50% payment prior to shipment. Shipping by sea and then across Canada (to Nova Scotia – opposite end of the world) can take 25-40 days. MATH: I pay half of gi order but dont recieve gi's for up to three months or more. One month later I pay the other half of the order and wait a month and a half longer for them to arrive. That's alot of money to tie up. So let’s say you only have enough money for 200 gi’s or units. If you sell all your popular sizes in the first month, you may have to wait another month to get enough money to buy 200 more gi’s. These gi’s will then take 30-45 days to produce and 30-40 days to ship. That adds up to as much as a FOUR MONTH gap between selling out of your popular size (A2=most popular,= ut your market may cater to women, children etc.) and re-stocking your popular size. There are ways around this. You may have to divide your order into 100 units at a time (more expensive) or find an investor to purchase 200 units to stagger with your purchase of 200 units. BOTTOM LINE: A cash Flow analysis is absolutely necessary. You have to know where your money is coming from and going to at all time in order to prepare for cash droughts. And this is just the beginning. Be smart with your money and dont give your best friend a free gi: True friends or at least friends who read this will realize your dilemma and at at leat pay cost!
SUMMARY: This was my second week in business. My first week on-line. It could have been better though it could have been worse. No failure just feedback, right Danny! Ether way, I hope you come on a journey with me. Let’s see what it takes to keep techNACITY afloat. It will always exist….but how? Strategic planning, marketing campaigns and promotions, additional investors, online marketing, my newest invention?!? If you have questions ideas or comments Shoot me an email email@example.com
OH YEAH: THANK YOU ALL!!