It’s easy to make the mistake of thinking you’re running a clothing line. The actual truth is you are the same as any other small business owner. There’s a lot of hype and bragging rights that come with owning your label – and by all means, you should enjoy it. But always remember that you are representing a business, so the way you act, treat people and come across is all crucial to your longevity in this business.
If you have a look through any of the many t-shirt forums out there, chances are you’ve come across someone who acts like a dick. It’s easy to get caught up in back and forth arguments and respond to criticism defensively. Let’s face it, people are harsh. Especially behind the guise of a computer. But nothing impresses me more and makes me want to support a label than seeing those people handle themselves with pride and professionalism online. It automatically makes me think that their service is going to be top notch, and my interactions with them are going to be smooth sailing.
When you order from an online clothing brand, the experience should go far beyond just receiving a tee in the mail. That’s what I expect when I go to a commercial shop. But when it comes to indie line, we’re competing for a smaller market, a market that expects more. Thanks to the likes of Johnny Cupcakes (in my opinion the master of customer service) your customers have grown to expect a lot from you and your label. And it’s your job as a business owner to over deliver.
One of the most vital things to the success of your indie brand is going to be making genuine supporters, ‘fans’ if you will. These are the people who will buy from you repeatedly. They will spread your name and brand message and be behind everything that you do. Sounds good right? It’s possible, and it happens. And how it happens is by over delivering to your customers on all levels. That means the way you act in public, the way you treat people online, your products and the way you interact with your customers.
A great example of this is 17 year old Peter Takis. He’s the owner of a Canadian based label, Local Advancers. Whether you’re a fan of his clothes or not, this is a business owner doing things the right way. If you check out his Twitter or Facebook you’ll see positive messages that inspire people to follow his label. Messages that make people feel involved. If you go a little further and see comments and responses to criticism on the forums you’ll see the way he handles himself is the epitome of professional. And there are plenty more owners out there like him. Jeff Sheldon of Ugmonk, and Kyle Creek of Sugar Steak are two of the owners we should aspire to be like. They’re positive, they take the time to give back to the t-shirt community and they make rad designs – win.
When you own a small business, like a garage, you’re usually only on display at your workplace and what happens outside of there is your own business. But when you’re the name and face behind a brand, everything you do can affect the way people see you and your label. So the next time someone is being a jerk, whether it be online or in person, take a deep breath, swear to yourself if you have to…and then act like a business owner and respond in a way that makes your brand look the best it can.
As always, thanks for taking the time to read this post and following the blog in general.