It started with a simple dream… I walked around my kitchen island pacing as I did every night listening to music when a vision came to me a denim jacket with the phrase Daddy's Rich on the back written in bold pink italics. “I want this denim jacket” I was going to have to make one I soon forgot about this idea as my day went on. Every so often over the coming months as I went about my life the image of this jacket would creep back into my mind.
It has always been my dream to start my own business at the age of 18 my best friend’s father asked me what I wanted to do and I responded with “I would like to be an entrepreneur”. But this dream got buried once life at college began…
Upon Graduation I began to have an identity crisis from my perspective the future looked relatively grime my options existed as follows. Peruse education in a “lucrative” field, get a job that would stunt my creativity, or give up on the dreams and wanderlust I knew life had to offer me.
I reached my breaking point my father and I got in his SUV and headed straight towards California. As we drove for 10hrs at a time I told him how my relationship wasn’t working and that I dident know what to do with my life. As we drove I stared out the window silently for hours at a time “what could I live with? What could I do? What sacrifices am I willing to make?
As we drove my mind wandered could I live in the land of the palm trees? No I couldn’t stay here I wasn’t native. I turned to my father “should I start a business selling T-shirts! I could make my own designs perhaps of native plants painting on each shirt this was after all one of my fields of expertise”. My father “that could be interesting”! I pulled out my phone to see how much shirts and some fabric paint would cost the investment was relatively low I looked at some hand painted shirts on etsy one of a hummingbird was quite elaborate.
By The time we arrived at the hotel it was midnight I was exhausted yet in a state of mania I opened my laptop and used the credit card I had received in the mail a few days earlier to purchase some plain black T-shirts 3 of every size. Over the next day I began to consider the process of making each T-shirt myself one by one. I realized that if I put time into hand painting each design I wouldn’t break even unless I was charging $100 or more for a simple T-shirt. I began to pivot asking myself what else was I interested in? What else was exciting?
I remembered the vision I had in my kitchen of the denim jacket I sat and went over it mentally for at least an hour before speaking. “Dad” I said sheepishly I had this vision and I’ve had it a couple of times it’s of this Denim Jacket it says Daddy’s Rich on the back and I think it is the right thing to do. I think the markets in the right place for it.
And that was only the beginning…
The next few days on the road I stopped at a fabric store in each new state I browsed the aisles comparing each new T-shirt and fabric paint color. When I arrived in Idaho I reached for a bottle of pink fabric paint on the shelf it was all over my hands and sweatpants. A sign I thought this is the exact shade I should use on my denim jackets I photographed my fabric stained hand and spent the next 6hrs sketching out a calligraphic design on my computer.
When I arrived home I took the small bottle of fabric paint that I had picked up in Yakima Washington, And pulled up a handful of calligraphy tutorials on YouTube. I began drawing out various esthetically oriented lines and squiggles. I wasn’t satisfied I would never be satisfied but I was getting closer I was very close. It was only a matter of finding a supplier and seeing how closely we could this design.
I searched the web scouring for manufacturers on classic wholesale websites such as ali express and Alibaba. There were some intriguing offers to consider but as a broke college student. The idea of placing a bulk order of 40+ items of a product that I wasn’t sure there was a niche for terrified me. Of course as I had solved every other problem in my life I turned to YouTube. Videos with the most cliché of titles like how to start your own T-shirt Business for free.
I stumbled across a woman named Sarah Crisp she explained how to make designs with free tools and a website that would manufacture your designs for you with no upfront cost. I was inspired! I grabbed my laptop and sat down on my couch. I started with the denim jacket I moved the pink font across the screen over and over again. Different font’s bigger fonts smaller fonts. I finally reached that magical point where as I worked my design wasn’t improving only spinning me around in a loop landing on approximately the same thing over and over,
I mustered the courage and showed my designs a denim jacket, T-shirts, and leggings to my family. Luckily my family was supportive helping me to refine my designs, and exit the choice paralysis feedback loop I was enthralled in. I continued over the next few weeks making new bold designs time was passing quickly. I knew that I needed to set a deadline for myself as a serial procrastinator and over thinker. I knew I had to set a deadline.
I created a Instagram and Facebook page for my brand. I created an announcement “Daddy’s Rich Clothing launching September 12”. I had 20 days this seemed like an impossible task considering I had never even have a website nor did I have any idea how to create a website. I searched website builders I could use Shopify seemed to be the best one I bought a subscription. I began watching tutorials on YouTube following along adding in headers, products, and collections to my site.
Launch day was fast approaching It felt surreal I scrambled to get everything done working 12hrs a day and listening to motivational lectures to sustain me. There was still so much to do and I wanted it all to be flawless. My father gave me the best piece of advice “quit trying to make everything perfect it will never be perfect and you’ll drive yourself crazy”. Words I live by not only at Daddy’s Rich but in life. I got the website functional by September 10 and launched. I continue to code, change, and improve the website to this day.
Now came the next step the most interesting part of all how was I going to get people on my website?
To Be Continued…
See my story continued here! Natalie Hilker - YouTube