With the friends I've been making through writing this blog, I thought it would be cool to have some of the designers write a post to share some insights they may have. So starting now you will be seeing a few posts from brands I've featured on Word of Mouth. First up is Sam and Nathan from Kill Hubris to talk a little about what they have learned so far. Enjoy....
What We’ve Learned So Far: Kill Hubris Edition
Kill Hubris is pretty new to the scene but we have been planning, saving, and moving our pieces into place for over 2 years now. Pieces like: a clear brand philosophy, designs that are meaningful to us but also wearable, professional finishing touches for the shirts, and a website that (we hope) makes a cool but professional first impression.
One of the first things we decided when researching how indie brands do business is that we had to have a legit website from Day One. By legit, we mean a website that looks professional and is consistent with our brand identity. The way we see it, as an independent brand with no brick-and-mortar storefront, our web site is where all real business begins and ends. For that reason, it was important to us that our site said to visitors, “Yes, we are a real company with real products and run by real people. We didn’t just slap this together to try to get you to enter your credit card info so we could gank it.” If our website didn’t give this impression, it wouldn’t matter if we were selling the most creative, best-executed idea in t-shirt history for $Free.99. No one would buy from us. We wouldn’t buy from us. That’s an idea that we’ve tried to incorporate throughout the brand; if we wouldn’t buy it, we won’t put our name on it.
Unless you’re a web designer, getting your website to that point will definitely take longer than you want it to. If you’re like we were, you’re anxious to get your tees out there for the world to see because you’re proud of them. But we believe it was worth every penny and every minute we spent trying to get it exactly right because, on the day of our Grand Opening, we were able to direct people to it and be confident that they can learn about us, see that we’re for real, and then, if we were super lucky, buy a shirt.
A legit site can also help you separate from the pack when trying to attract attention through social media. There are so many independent brands out there that it can be hard to get people’s attention, especially on Twitter where there are 80 billion conversations going on at once. And if you manage to get their attention, you don’t have it for long. One way people (especially bloggers and other reviewers) decide if they take you seriously is to look beneath your Twitter bio for a link to your store. If you don’t have that, most of the time they will move along to the next person who contacted them. We made sure our website was finished before reaching out to anyone so that, when we did, they could check our site out and know within a few seconds that we were one of the “real” ones.
One quick point on the subject of social media: even though Facebook and Twitter interaction happens from behind a keyboard, we believe you still need to treat it as if the conversation was happening in-person. There are so many t-shirt companies on Facebook and Twitter that the number of conversations going on at once can be overwhelming. But you know what most of those conversations have in common? People are actually exchanging ideas… not just posting “20% OFF SALE!” over and over again. Many of the indie brands out there are sharing ideas with and supporting each other… even the big ones. Some of the best advice we’ve gotten so far has been by reaching out to great established brands like Ugmonk and Loyal KNG. And you know what? They responded with some great info that we’ve incorporated into how we run KH. Who knows what kind of pitfalls we avoided just by opening up a real dialogue with those guys? If you treat other brands like real people, most of the time you’ll be pleased with the response.
We hope this small bit of what we’ve learned so far will be helpful to other new brands or anyone thinking about starting up. Good luck and feel free to email us! We’re down to chat about whatever. Remember, it’s not a competition… it’s a cooperation!