Forging An Empire

It’s amazing how many people wake up, go to work, come home, and do the exact same thing tomorrow. For years I was trapped in that cycle where I swear all I did was work and sleep. And the worst part was the more I worked, the less money I had. And even when I got a raise, I still felt like I had nothing.

Then one night when I couldn’t sleep, I decided there had to be more to life, so I started my own clothing brand, Thorn of Rapture. And upon launch, I realized that I rushed into it before I was ready. I did a few google searches, did as little research as I could, and released my first design, which literally said “Unashamed” in a cursive font. I published the shirt to an Etsy shop I threw together as quickly as possible, and expected the sales to start rolling in. And guess how many I made.

After a while of literally 0 sales, I decided to see if I could get some support from a few local people who had a small following. This is where I realized I messed up. When I did my research, all I did was find the cheapest company that would do a print for me. When the shirts came in, the font was crooked and blurry. And to make it even worse, the red color had the ugliest yellow outline around it. Needless to say, I did not sponsor those shirts because I was way to embarrassed. I literally deleted everything.

This is where I decided to actually make a brand instead of trying to be another one of those “novelty” items competing to be the cheapest price. I turned Thorn of Rapture into an LLC and taught myself how to do digital art. Full disclosure, I had some abilities from before because I used to design video games. That being said, I learned how to use Affinity Designer (which is absolutely my favorite design program).

Learning from my past mistake, I spent a lot more time researching different manufacturers that I could partner with. And before I released my new designs (which were much more impressive), I had test prints sent to me. When they arrived, I will admit I was nervous they would be awful again. But to my surprise, they weren’t! All three shirts looked professional! And I officially launched, came out with several more shirts, and had a lot of test products sent to me. And it’s important to note that the difference between a professional quality shirt and the embarrassments I received before was less than $.30 per shirt.

The top image is not a blurry photo, that was the actual print quality

Now I did make a few sales at this point! I ran a few Facebook ads and had surprising results. There was a ton of engagement, comments, shares, and even people tagging their friends, but nobody was clicking over to my site. I initially thought that I had to spend more money on the ads to give my Facebook pixel more data to work off of. But to my surprise, I kept getting more and more engagement, but nobody making it over to my website. I had no sales from Facebook. All of my sales came from real people that liked what I was wearing and asked about it.

This was when it clicked in my mind that there are thousands upon thousands of clothing “brands” out there that sell generic products. And the marketing terms everyone used (including myself) were the same. I literally found the same About Us template on a dozen Shopify stores. It’s important to note that I’m not special, and neither were any of them. We were all failing because we all watched the same Masterclass that promised us the world.

I wish I could say everything worked as well as it did in my mind but it didn’t. But what I took away from failing was a lot of knowledge. I learned that people liked my products, especially the material, but only in person when they could actually see what it looked like. I actually found a couple of people who want to help promote the brand because of the message I had. It changed from what it originally was, but that’s only because I learned more and finally decided what I wanted my brand to be about: Self-Growth.

During the holidays I took my site down one last time. Monday is the official relaunch date where the brand will finally have a real identity. And every design will have a story that represents an event from my life that helped me grow as a person.

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