Starting Out And The Story So Far
The Starting Line (June 2010 - April 2011)
"This is what I'm supposed to do," I thought whilst sitting in the bedroom of my student apartment, finishing a graphic design sketch. I was in my last year of university having just completed my final year law examinations. So your first thoughts might be, "You studied law for 3 years, and you're only just realizing you want to be a fashion designer." Short answer to that would be, "No". Long answer; I've always sketched and designed graphics but I studied law because it was a useful degree to have. Plus I specialized in business which came in REALLY useful, but more on that later.
I wanted to create a brand that reflected urban culture and lifestyle but had a prestige and quality element to it. I decided to call the brand, "Araneus T-Shirts" (which is now, "Araneus A.D.W.") because, the spider is able to create a home for itself in any environment (apart from Antartica apparently). They are able to move with stealth whilst carrying an endless supply of the finest silk. Plus I noticed that when I doodle I always seem to draw spiders’ webs. I used the Latin word for spider because "Spider T-Shirts" sounded a bit, "bleh."
When I graduated from university I only had about £500. I couldn't afford a fancy website, a screen printing carousel or a PR agent. I used £300 to buy basic screen printing equipment from Ebay and decided to print my designs myself. I bought 5 white Fruit Of The Loom Heavy Cotton t-shirts and printed my first designs on my bedroom floor. They were pretty simple but I decided to sell them at £10 each on Ebay to see what kind of response I would get. I think I was a little too optimistic as I thought I'd sell out in about a week, but I soon realised that if no one is searching for what you're selling, you're not going to sell. So instead of using the name of my t-shirts in the title I used key words like, "Street Wear T-Shirts" and that soon made a difference. It took me a while but I sold all 5 t-shirts in about 3 weeks. So it's not the fairytale story of I just started a business and in the first month I was making thousands, but HEY! this is reality.
On the Mark (May 2011 - September 2011)
So over next few months I started booking in for local markets and festivals to sell my designs. FYI festivals are a good place to advertise and get contacts but don't expect to sell much. I booked in for my first local festival and I guess I imagined this montage of me selling out in the first couple of hours. Well... I managed to sell £80 worth of stock that day but the booking fee cost me £40 so I only made £40 for the whole day. Plus I spent money on getting new designs printed but I thought, "I can always sell them on Ebay.” So it wasn't all bad.
Websites and Social Media
I managed to create a basic 5 page website with Go Daddy's, "Website Tonight". I bought a few domain names but I decided to use www.araneustshirts.co.uk I chose this domain because it had the word t-shirts in it so I thought it would be easier to for people to find as I was selling mostly t-shirts at the time.
In between all this I've set up a Facebook Page and a Twitter Account These take up a lot of time with updating and posting. However they are useful as they help you reach a wider audience.
Making a name for myself (October 2011- October 2012)
I registered as a business in October 2011 when I started to see regular income from selling my designs.
I was approached by a local retailer at one of the festivals I was trading at. She said that she really liked one particular design I had done and that it would fit perfectly in her shop. I am happy to say that that shop has been a regular client and I am still stocking my brand in that store today.
I then decided to try my luck with other local retailers. Not everyone said yes, but I did manage to convince a couple more retailers to sell my range.
I trademarked the name in March 2012 as, "Araneus A.D.W." as I wanted my initials incorporated into the name. I then set up an ecommerce website with a, Shopify basic package which you can check out here. I'll be honest I don't get many sales from my website simply because SEO is expensive so I mostly sell on Ebay and Asos Market Place.
Expanding And Going International (November 2012- February 2013)
So the over the last few months I was able to get in contact with a sports agent in the U.S through Linkedin, who I talked into introducing my brand to sports players he represents. He managed to put me in contact with a U.S.A Premier Basket Ball Player, (Jason Underwood) who was happy to endorse my clothing. You can see photos on our Facebook Page. Endorsements mean you send a bunch of free stuff to someone who has a high profile and hope they wear them.
I have to say that Jason has been great. He sends photos of himself in my branded clothing so that I can post them on the social media pages. He has also promoted the brand in the U.S.A and Brazil.
The Original Idea.
When I first started I had to make the clothing a little cheaper than I originally intended. This was simply because I couldn’t afford more refined garments to print on. However as I am more established now I want to go back to the original idea which was quality clothing with an urban edge. So I have recently had a sample of a Varsity Jacket made which you can see here.
So the story so far is basically it's progressing but it's taking time. I'm trying to get more retailers and support for the more premium range of the brand.
To anyone who's starting a clothing brand it takes a lot of time and effort especially if you're like me and haven't borrowed any business bank loans. It seems like a long road but we'll get there.
Show your support by following us on Twitter and liking us on Facebook
Thanks for reading.
Written by Alicia Wray — August 10, 2013