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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
SUMMARY
I am a small apparel company that is on its first few seasons and things are looking a little shakey with this economy. We are in the heat of printing our fall line and have a printer change his mins forcing us to look elsewhere. It is really hard to find pricing as low as we had it before. I am not sure if now is the best time to be investing in a custom apparel startup.

QUESTION

In these rough economic times, are people still interested in the $20 No-Name indie apparel, or are they even less likely to buy?

SUPPORT
My demographic is very active in action sports and used to have a disposable income. It is getting harder to predict how they will spend. I realize promotions will help, but when all of the designs are printed and waiting to be designed, what is there to do but hope it is still in demand?

What do you guys think? I need help deciding on whether the time is right to continue and print or hold off until things shake up. Right now this is not a full time gig.
 

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I think you answered your own question, you do not consider printing to be your 'full time' gig. Personally, and this is solely my opinion, during great economic upheavels is the perfect time to start your company and/or relean and refocus your company if you already in operations. It forces businesses, myself included, to truly look at costs. This, in turn, leads to innovation and continued operational refinement. For example, we recently retooled our operations to allow for additional equipment purchases which will, in turn, reduce our overall cost for our users/customers, thus our cost savings can be passed along.

This is also a time to experiment with various marketing plans. As advertisers withdraw from the market, reps are hungrier and more willing to work deals. I use down periods to try different marketing methods with less overall cost than in normal economic times. We'll sit down and come up with our 'Top 30' of untested marketing plans and pick the top 3-5 most likely to succede and then implement each at various times.

Other times more drastic measures are needed, i.e. completely throw out your previous business plan and implement a new one. Sometimes this could mean moving away from your 'core' business to add additional revenue streams and move into different service categories. You stated that you focus on the action sports demographic. What other vendors, in that category, could stand to benefit from teaming up with you? Once you start answering these types of questions a better strategy can begin to be defined.

Hope this helps....good luck with you venture!
 

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I am about 9 motnhs into my venture, and I have done one run of designs that was large for me (around 500 shirts). We did that planning to get them into retail shops. It turned out, that the shops that planned on carrying my stuff, were now too slow to commit. On top of that, my designs were very uncommon (not mainstream enough), and the demographic I am trying to sell to had to think about the designs a little to much.

So, in a slow time, I learned a lot about how to make designs that were unique enough to be different, but mainstream enough to get into retail shops. I am now working on the new designs, and feel that I will attract more buyers, rather than trying to attract only certain buyers. Then once the economy turns, I will have more brand recognition due to having more shirts out there, and then I can do the less popular designs (that I love, and feel will seperate me from my competition), and they will be more likely to buy them without having to think, because I have a brand that is recognized.

I guess that was a very long winded way of saying, that the slow economic times have forced me to think a little more inside the box :D, which is probably what I needed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
SBEMedia & VIP, Your replies really hit the heart of my question. Three things will need to be done for me to stay on track in these rough times. I will have to:

- Reduce the number of shirts being printed unless otherwise committed by shops

- Rethink my marketing strategy and partner/collaborate with other indie brands

- Focus my efforts on self promotion in a new way while keeping costs down to help float through the crisis.
 

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One thing about the economy is that there is still money out there. This is not going to be the next great depression as there is a one huge difference from now and then. Back then, the banks and government weren't working together, today they are.

Times right now are really a crisis of consumer confidence. Consumers are being scared of all the media coverage that the world is coming to an end so they decide to hold onto disposable cash (most still have disposable cash to spend).

I think during economic down turns is the best time to start a business like someone previously said as long as you are doing it in a small scale (meaning: low overhead costs, a good product, and a good marketing strategy.) So as long as you don't have to worry about a huge warehouse rent, employees, etc, you should be fine.

(Reminder: you are hearing more about the economic crisis because it is near election day)

Also think of it this way, when the economy is bad, the economy will naturally "kill" out the weak clothing brands. If you have the better brand, you will strive and become stronger and above the rest. If you can become successful in a bad economy, you can be successful at anytime. Go for it!!! Spend money to make money.
 

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I am about 9 motnhs into my venture, and I have done one run of designs that was large for me (around 500 shirts). We did that planning to get them into retail shops. It turned out, that the shops that planned on carrying my stuff, were now too slow to commit. On top of that, my designs were very uncommon (not mainstream enough), and the demographic I am trying to sell to had to think about the designs a little to much.

So, in a slow time, I learned a lot about how to make designs that were unique enough to be different, but mainstream enough to get into retail shops. I am now working on the new designs, and feel that I will attract more buyers, rather than trying to attract only certain buyers. Then once the economy turns, I will have more brand recognition due to having more shirts out there, and then I can do the less popular designs (that I love, and feel will seperate me from my competition), and they will be more likely to buy them without having to think, because I have a brand that is recognized.

I guess that was a very long winded way of saying, that the slow economic times have forced me to think a little more inside the box :D, which is probably what I needed.
Thanks Vince - good thoughts here.
 

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Just one final point, if you are having trouble getting your product into specific specialty stores, are you allowing those stores the option of them doing the design work and you providing the product. This will greatly reduce the amount of hours you have to spend doing unneeded design work and essentially allow your end buyer to create the concepts they think their customers want. This way you eliminate the cost of producing shirt/apparel 'samples' and can go direct to sales.
 

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Since the recent financial crisis (last two weeks) my online sales in the US have gone down a lot. My plan is going to be to print one color shirts on tultex instead of American Apparel so I can offer t-shirts at a cheaper price and still get sales.
 
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