You can check out the Instagram page, @wear.mom.
About MOM Clothing
Senior year of high school, my friends and I launched a clothing brand called MOM. It was an aesthetic brand that sold embroidered hoodies, sweaters, tshirts, and hats.
I bought an embroidery machine for $300 and created a mini assembly line in my garage, where all articles of clothing were produced.
It was a fun project. It was a great excuse to hangout with new people, go somewhere cool and just take some photos. It was fun imagining new product designs and seeing them through to creation.
My friends and I ran the clothing brand for 2½ years before I decided it was best to focus my time and energy elsewhere. But wow, did we learn a lot.
Base your business on a real problem
Is your business solving a problem? A real problem? A problem that people care about, and are willing to spend money on to fix?
Just because you experience a problem, and that people you ask agree with you, doesn't mean it's a real problem. Someone saying, "yeah I'd buy that product" or "yeah I'd get that app", does not equate to them actually spending money on your product or downloading your app.
In my case, our clothing brand wasn't based on a problem. It was based on trendy photos we saw on Instagram and Tumblr, and we blindly assumed that there must be a demand for it.
Creating a product in order to satisfy a need in the market has grounds to thrive as a business. Creating a product for the sake of just creating it is only just a hobby.
Design for scale
Let's say you sell only 10 products a week. Then, one night, your business blows up! Now you're getting 5,000 orders a week. Can your current business model fulfull all of these orders?
I didn't experience this, but if it did, I would have no way to fulfill those orders (apart from dropping out of school).
That's not to say you should make decisions as if you already have 5,000 orders – don't jump ahead of yourself. It's about designing for scale, so that the transition from 10 orders/week to 5,000 orders/week is as seamless as possible.
Remove yourself from the equation
One of the mistakes I made was bottlenecking production with myself. I was manually producing the clothes, which meant that the total output was limited to only what I could produce in the time I had. It was a fixed model.
Not only did I sign myself up for all the production work, but I was also taking most of the photos and managing the Instagram. I had experience with photography and I wanted the Instagram to be consistent so it made sense at the time, but doing everything yourself is neither sustainable nor efficient.
What if I wanted to take a break? The business would come to a complete standstill without me. This is what you want to avoid. If you must be present for the business to run, then it's not a business, it's just you.
You must delegate responsibilities. Put someone in charge of the Instagram, and if you don't have someone that can manage that, there are apps that can assist instead. If you can't find someone to produce your product, you can outsource it. There is always a way.
Don't underprice your product
I cared more about the product than about the business. I wanted people to have the clothes I was making, so I priced them as low as I could in order to make them accessible – $34 for an embroidered hoodie.
However, if I was thinking of the business instead of the product, I would have set the price closer to $64. Because of the intensive labor efforts to create each hoodie, it made sense to go quality over quantity for our sales. A higher price would have justified spending so much time and money into each hoodie that we sold.
I did sell a lot with the low price, but the profit margins weren't even worth it. And every product sold cost me time – time that could have been used to grow the business elsewhere.
Don't chase perfection
Oh man. I love perfecting things. I live for it – creating that perfect product. Every little detail, inside and out, completely flawless.
Most people don't care though. If the embroidery is off-center by half an inch, people won't throw a fit, but if you redo it 5 times to get it perfect you're just wasting your valuable time.
Don't forget what this is: a business. Time is money and every dollar matters.
Manage your money
"It's an investment", I would tell myself.
I spent all of the profit we made experimenting with new products and on expensive packaging – things that didn't produce a return on investment.
Sure, it's great to invest your profits on R&D. But it needs to be done intelligently. It needs to be done with precision and with exact numbers written down. Open a spreadsheet, create a budget, and track every penny that goes in and out of the business.
This isn't your money. It belongs to the business. How should the business spend it's money?
Running a clothing brand was a ton of fun but I'm glad it's over. I can now take what I've learned, direct my energy into my next project, and learn my from my next array of failures!
Thanks for reading!