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StayTrue-Series-PART1

I’m a huge believer that learning from experience is one of the best ways, and let me tell you – I’ve learned a lot from taking The Stay True Project from conception to reality.

I’ve never gone past the stage of producing a design at this level, let alone selling it and fulfilling customer orders.

This is all brand new to me and I’m learning as I go. I want to talk numbers and share the details of my experience.

Feel free to ask any questions along the way, and I’ll do my best to answer.

Let’s start with how it all began…

My entrepreneurial backstory

Thinking back to when I was young: I was always creating (what I thought were) my own products. My neighborhood friends and I would gather whatever materials we had, sit around, and craft. (One item in particular I remember making were these little beaded snakes and lizards).

But whenever I was alone I’d either be doing one of two things: I’d either be playing Pokémon on my Gameboy, or I’d be drawing.

I can remember taking a stack of paper, folding it in half and stapling it to create my own book for doodling or drawing/writing short stories.

I did this a lot. I’d take an existing cartoon or imagine my own and draw it out in the form of a short story.

I loved doing this so much that I even took it a step further and packaged my best stories in manila envelopes to sell to my Mom’s friends for a few bucks. (It was just enough to buy some ice cream for when the ice cream truck would drive through our apartment complex.)

Looking back – this is where it all started and it must be why I get such excitement from bringing my ideas to life.

How the Stay True Project came to be

I can’t remember exactly how long I’ve had the dream of creating my own products, but it’s something I’ve really been wanting to do over the past couple of years now that I’m a full-time self employed graphic designer.

I had some large ideas in the back of my mind, but nothing executable at the time.

One evening I was talking with some friends – one in particular who was having an off day.

I remember telling him, “as long as you stay true to who you are, then everything will work out.”

After I said those words, “stay true”, it lingered for a bit… then it hit me. Those words that I truly felt I lived by my entire life. Those words many of us live by, but may not think about.

The words “stay true” – to represent how you as an individual choose to live life. No matter your beliefs. No matter your lifestyle. You stay true to yourself.

Think about it… What are majority of problems caused by?

Lies and dishonesty.

If more people were honest and didn’t worry about how others chose to live their own lives, then it would potentially solve many arguments and struggles between them!

Again – words that I feel that I should always live by—Stay true.

I want to represent and share the honesty in life with these words, and that’s why I created the Stay True Project.

Time to take action!

I now have this meaningful idea that I’d love to share with the world. I felt that now might be the time to take a risk on what was only a dream.

I spent some time sketching out the words “stay true”. How the two words played with each other, how they flowed, etc.

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The design went through some different variations and after a few mockup designs I had finally found a direction.

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At this point I feel confident in the design and it’s message, but I was daunted with the idea of getting it produced the right way.

In my eyes the right way to go about this idea was to bulk order the design on a high quality material, setup an online shop, and fulfilled orders myself.

I’m familiar with the website part, but I’ve never gone through that sort of process of inquiring everything I’d need to know to actually make this happen.

And that’s where the countless hours of research came in. I didn’t even expect half of the stuff I needed to know until I just jumped into it.

My biggest asset and resource through this whole experience was the book Thread’s Not Dead by Jeff Finley.

This book gave me the information to get started out on the right foot. I’ve read through it three times now and I’m still picking it back up to pull resources.

Check out my video review of the book »

I know how to design, but what the book helped me understand was the printing, production, marketing, sales and order fulfillment side of things.

All extremely important things to know.

If you’re at all interested in the apparel industry or even freelance design, I highly recommend Thread’s Not Dead!

Plan everything!

I knew that I didn’t have the finances to afford this sort of project. I’d have to purchase the products, shipping materials, and all service fees along the way (website platform).

So to minimize financial risk, I took the project onto Kickstarter to get crowd funded!

Before starting the project I had to have everything planned out: the products I’d like to produce, what it’ll cost for all of the materials, how I would fulfill orders, and what I’d plan to do after the project (if it succeeds).

There’s so much that went into planning this project, and it was extremely important that I wasn’t overlooking something crucial.

I spent a couple months at the end of 2012 to finalize the project’s plan.

I needed $2000 minimum to cover the cost of:

  • 154 Stay True t-shirts
  • 500 4” Clear Stay True stickers
  • 500 1” Stay True buttons
  • Two 100 9×9 art prints (Stay True & Go to Sleep)
  • Shipping materials: poly mailers, “stay flats” envelopes, poly bags, clear packing envelopes, etc.
  • Service charges: Big Cartel & Pulley App

With what I hoped was every detail covered, I then started to plan out the actual Kickstarter project.

PART II: Creating the Kickstarter Project

Next up is the most important part, creating the Kickstarter Project!

Read PART II now!
Part III: Printing & Production
Part IV: Order Fulfillment & Shipping
Part V: Setting Up Shop & Making Sales

Are you thinking about bringing an idea to life? If you’ve read this far, please take the extra couple of minutes to leave your thoughts and/or questions in the comments below!

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