/ bad kids clothing

Don't Start a T-Shirt Company, Build An Unsexy Business Instead

We all have friends who have attempted to create a clothing brand. Yeah man, buy this shirt it’s made of organic cotton, we donate money to save the whales and I’ll give you a few stickers so you can tell your friends.

They set up a facebook page, ask you to like it and then a few weeks later there are a bunch of shirts sitting in cardboard boxes and you steal one for free.

Why they usually fail:

Their target market is young adults (18 – 23) where maybe each person has discretionary income of $500 a month to spend on personal items. Only a portion of that will be spent on clothing, with the rest going to food, entertainment, etc. So you’re fighting for a part of discretionary income against every other single clothing brand out there.

Those odds suck.

The odds also suck for bars and restaurants. I worked in the service industry enough to learn that. Your ability to earn income is limited by your location and capacity, while there are many factors outside of your control that can almost eliminate your business overnight. Like if someone gets murdered in the neighborhood… and now no one thinks its safe.

Are lifestyle brands and bars dead? No. There are plenty of people who are making a ton of money doing this and more will. It’s just not where I would recommend that you start.

**Note: **Earlier this year I did an interview with Lex Houser the founder of Bad Kids Clothing and she’s absolutely killing it right now. Electronic dance music hit the mainstream, all of the major festivals are expanding and guess what people need awesome neon rave shit to wear. They offer specialized clothing that fills a need in the market.

Bad Kids Clothing has a lot of competitors but they don’t use social media as well to connect people with their brand as well as Lex does. Humanize your brand, tell a story and connect with people to dominate the market.

A Rant About Instagram

Instagram is awesome and probably the best social network for a few reasons. They’re completely mobile. Limiting it to just pictures means less updates which makes it easier to follow all of your friends without messages getting lost. By eliminating direct messaging you ensure that all interaction takes place on the update, creating more transparency.

So yeah it’s awesome… **BUT HOW DO YOU MAKE MONEY FROM HIPSTER PICTURES!?!?!? **

Facebook put a billion dollar valuation on a company with zero revenue. Are you still going to use the app when you’re scrolling down your feed and you start to see advertisements for diapers? I can’t think of five ways to monetize Instagram that will actually scale.

So Build An Unsexy Business

Mainstream media focuses on things that are sexy. Instagram is sexy. Your iPhone is sexy. Toms are sexy (to some people). For almost three years I scratched the back of gift cards, dialed 1-800 numbers, packaged them and took them to the post office. NOT SEXY.

Write this down and post it on your wall.

People buy a lot of weird shit online.

If you’ve listened to the Tropical MBA / Lifestyle Business Podcast Dan and Ian always talk about their products businesses. They are killing it right now selling portable bars and cat furniture. Yes, cat furniture.

Why I love Unsexy Markets

  • Less competition – why compete against more people than you have to?
  • More predictable – the cat furniture revolution will not be televised.
  • Do it better – bring some innovation use technology and shake things up.

If the supplier offers drop-shipping, then you don’t even need to hold any inventory (aka tie up cash) and you can start now. Hit up Shopify, build a pretty website and start making sales.

Coming up with ideas is hard. If I was better at this, I would be on a yacht blogging instead of my apartment. Some ways to discover product ideas can include Google Insights, Amazon top products or website marketplaces like Flippa. My advice is go for something semi-expensive. It’s a pain in the ass shipping things and dealing with refunds especially when you’re barely making any money on the product. Sell less and make more.

Things to consider

Do you have an advantage here? Most of us do and we don’t even know it. Maybe someone in your family or a connection with a friend? We often think about the lifestyle that we want to live and base our business around that. Try to reverse your thinking and create a business that will support your lifestyle.

It’s better to make 10,000 a month selling cat furniture online and picking up the tab for everyone at the bar, than having everyone come to your bar and giving them all free shots. Nobody likes cleaning up. Also shipping is annoying, the post office always has lines and likes to lose things.


Some of you are probably reading this thinking you bastard you’re talking about my lifestyle brand. No, I’m not… but if you did that… then you’re definitely smart enough to make products business work.

With WRR I am able to attend almost any festival or show for free. This year the only festival I paid for was Ultra and I have attended 25+ shows. WRR is sexy… my next project isn’t.

By selling products online, the whole world is an open market. Do people in Brazil need cat furniture? Probably. This also utilizes my background and the new skills that I’ve learned from blogging and building a brand can help me gain traction quickly.

This post took longer than I intended mainly for one reason. I’m working through the process for my next business and decided just to start going to businesses and selling them. One it helps with the pitch and two I’m able to refine the idea. So I went to the first place yesterday and after a couple of minutes, they wanted to buy in.


I make money online through websites and business consulting. Everyday I'm challenging myself to learn and do more.

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