I've always loved to sweat. Never really been able to articulate exactly why. I was working out one day -- sweat dripping down my face -- and a phrase just popped to mind: "You Can't Fake Sweat." It dawned on me that this was a big part of why I loved it.
The phrase stuck with me for days. Finally, I went to see if there was a website by that name. There wasn't. In fact, the URL was available. So I snagged it.
Some time passed, and the phrase still stuck with me. I've always fancied myself an entrepreneur, so I decided I'd make a run at designing a You Can't Fake Sweat logo and selling shirts.
I investigated a bunch of platforms I could use to launch an ecommerce site, and I decided Shopify would be best. I am thrilled with the experience on Shopify. Using a free template, I've created a site I'm truly proud of. In fact, I think it looks quite unlike any other site I've come across, which is remarkable considering it was a free template, and I'm not a web designer. The ease of use on Shopify, as well as the support at any hour of the day, has been superb. I should add that the around-the-clock support means the world to me, since I'm trying to run this ecommerce site on top of holding down a day job.
In terms of sourcing, it's relatively simple. I order the "blank" shirts through a distributor called alphabroder, they ship them to a local FedEx office, and I pick them up and bring them to a local silk screen printer.
How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?
The first sales came through friends when I posted something on Facebook about launching a line of shirts.
I have virtually no marketing budget, so I've done two things that have worked well so far:
1) For people I know who are doing fundraising efforts, I've created a promo code (basically, a discount code with zero discount) for them, and told them that if they promote You Can't Fake Sweat and that promo code, for anyone who makes a purchase using that promo code, I'll donate all the profits to his or her cause. I obviously don't make any profits this way, but it's a big win-win--I help someone raise money for a good cause, and I get the brand out there being worn and seen.
2) The other thing I've done is a guest blog post on a site called 12 Minute Fitness, and I offered readers a 20% discount.
Tell us about the back-end of your business. What tools and apps do you use to run your store? How do you handle shipping and fulfillment?
Truthfully, I run the whole store on Shopify. I have Google Analytics set up, but I don't rely on it extensively at this point.
I have created several videos (with more coming) that I have on the site. I think these are key for building a brand. I shot these on a DSLR camera and edited them using something called Camtasia.
Currently, I pick and pack out of my basement.
What are your top recommendations for new ecommerce entrepreneurs?
A few things have worked really well for me:
1) The fundraising/promo code approach has been great. It's allowed me to promote a new brand in a way that everyone call feel good about, it raises money for good causes, and it hasn't cost me anything. I'd urge all Shopify users to try this.
2) Creating videos has been great. It gives me content for the site, creates stories around the brand, and it gives people stuff to share. Creating good videos is so damn easy these days.
3) Figure out ways to guest blogging to get your brand out there.