Has it really been a year?
Well, not really. Officially Mondo Monster Wear launched in September, 2014. But the appearance, other than the name, has changed in ways we never imagined
- We didn’t have a dedicated website. Our shirts were displayed on sales pages off of our parent site, Ag Media Solutions, Inc.
- We didn’t accept credit cards. Purchasers actually would see a design they liked, contact us and then send a check.
Admittedly the process was slow. But we did have one sale for 2014. One? Yessiree Bob!!!!!
The sixth century Chinese philosopher and legendary founder of Taoism, Lao Tzu said “the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” That single step, for us, was the sale of that first shirt, Star Wars: Evolution (http://www.mondomonsterwear.com/products/star-wars-evolution). As 2015 comes to an end we commemorate our first calendar year as an e-commerce site. So what have we learned? Where are we and where will we go?
During the past year we expanded our designs from slogans and phonetic Hebrew to simple graphics to complex designs. By June we had created a library of 160 designs which we contracted to fifty and have since expanded back up to 170 (not counting some designs that were retired, custom orders or sold on a limited run). We have several artists contributing designs in addition to the historical New York City imagery we have licensed from an archivist. In June we launched our dedicated site followed by an eBay store in September. And that first total sale from last December has grown to 108 (as of this writing).
Now granted, only 107 shirts sold over the period of a year is not a lot. That averages out to 9 shirts per month or 2.07 per week or .299 per day. I don’t know anyone who wants less than a third of a shirt!
Our goals and expectations were modest. We didn’t create any sales quotas. We knew that we couldn’t compete with Donkey Tees or Think Geek or Café Press. But we also wanted to try and get a foothold onto the geek market. We saw, first hand with other companies, how hard it is to maintain an apparel company and generate sales. That we’ve increased sales by 10,400% is huge. Now those numbers are kind of misleading given the fact that we didn’t utilize publicity or other marketing tools. Still, an increase is an increase. The company we were in 2014 is nothing like who we are now. So it’s kind of like comparing an apple and an orange.
Star Wars: Evolution expanded to a line of more than a dozen shirts that were inspired by Star Wars. With the newest chapter of the film out, we have seen very robust sales. Soon we added designs that paid tribute to music (RUSH, The Beatles) and other pop culture phenomena. We now have designs that are reminiscent of The Odd Couple (our most popular and best-selling items), The Honeymooners, Star Trek, Seinfeld and now even Sanford and Son, The Office, The Godfather and Alice. We get a lot of requests from clients for new designs and have even created custom shirts for nursery schools and theater groups. Our latest item is hooded pullover sweatshirts.
So what have we learned? Well, we needed to keep to our original philosophy of printing on-demand. Having an inventory (currently we have 6 dozen Odd Couple shirts in stock from an event) means we:
- Lose physical space storing them
- Create overhead
- Get annoyed when we see them still sitting there going unsold
We learned that the best business is via credit card where the sales are completed prior to shipping. Billing only creates confusion and in some cases very bad blood.
We’ve also learned that e-commerce stores are treated differently than brick and mortar shops. If a person were to go to American Eagle and see a shirt for $15 they wouldn’t ask the manager, “Can I just pay you $12?” The price is what the price is (apologies to President Clinton). We also don’t see people going into Hot Topic, taking a stack of shirts waiting three months to pay for them and then complaining about the pricing structure.
Where will we go? The sky is the limit. For starters we want to improve on the sales from this year. Obviously we’d love to see sales be increased by 100%. That could be attainable if we continue to make high quality designs and increase marketing efforts. We plan on bringing in several other artists to create original art. As much as we don't want, we will also be retiring several designs. Just like a bad stock, if it hasn’t sold, then there’s little value in keeping it on the site.
On the business side, we’ve created a very efficient system with our distributor but would love to make it more streamlined. We offer customers a lot of incentives and discounts; we certainly plan on expanding those to inspire sales. Last, we have had a lot of repeat customers. In many cases we created art that they asked for. If we can continue to please the people we’ve already sold to, then perhaps we can get their referrals to others.
It’s been a fun year. We know there’s a lot to learn and a lot of growing left to do. We’ll create new designs and roll-out new designs frequently. But most importantly, if we love what we’re doing, then we’ll never consider it work. Thanks for reading our latest blog entry. We’ll try to post more frequently and perhaps even create a newsletter. As a thank you, we’ll give you a 15% discount if you use the code “Blog” for any order over $60.
Happy New Year from Mondo Monster Wear!