We’re coming up on the 1 year anniversary of STITCH COLLECTIVE! So much has grown and changed over the last year – I thought it would be fun to have a quick lookback on how I started on this journey.
First off – I never expected to start a label company.
Two years ago I just wanted to have some nice labels made for my personal projects and this kicked off a casual search to find a manufacturer.
What I quickly found is that the manufacturers who target the consumer and sewing/craft market for custom labels (you’re probably familiar with them) couldn’t make the kind of labels I was after. I wanted super soft labels that had crisp detail, even at the smallest label size.
I knew these labels existed, but I didn’t know how to find them. So my obsession with learning how to source labels began!
I should preface this with the fact that I jumped into this with literally ZERO information. I had never produced or sourced a product before, nor worked in any sort of supply chain management, so I built my knowledge from the ground up, through trial and error over the course of a year.
I slowly figured out the specifications I needed to ask for, how to reach out to factories so that they’d take me seriously, how to move through the sample process, what kind of questions to ask, how to negotiate prices and efficient ways to track my outreach.
Then, in May of 2020, shortly after I’d found a factory I wanted to work with for my personal labels, I went on maternity leave from my day job.
I quickly began to struggle with the lack of structure and sense of accomplishment of going to work while I was on leave. Everything around a newborn is work that doesn’t stay done. There’s feeding, changing and washing that feels like an endless loop. While having time to bond with my daughter was amazing, as an adult who was used to always working towards a goal, the newborn phase began to feel a little spirit-dampening.
As I was struggling with something constructive to fill my time, I suddenly realized that I had all of the information I needed to start a label business!
I had ideas for label designs, a newly identified factory that I was excited to work with and a hunger for some structure and working toward a larger goal. With those pieces in place, it made the rest of the steps a bit more clear for me.
Unlike sewing, which was hard while caring for a newborn, starting a business was largely steps I could manage on my phone or laptop while caring for my daughter! I could chip away at my tasks, doing a little bit each day.
From May-October I worked on deciding on a business name, business licensing, setting up a website, deciding on an e-commerce platform (I went with Shopify), choosing my initial designs & packaging, figuring out my ‘branding’ and finally, how to ‘do’ social media and marketing as a business.
If you’re thinking about starting a business, but are concerned about your lack of technical background, don’t worry! I didn’t have a technical background, so I went with mostly ‘plug & play’ solutions. For example, I didn’t build out a WordPress website, or higher a web designer, I went with template solutions to build my site to make things faster and more simple.
To keep myself on track I made myself a massive checklist of action items to map out every single step from deciding to start the business until I launched the site (my day job is managing massive projects and vendors, so this part came naturally to me!). I loved the sense of accomplishment of checking off each item!
If you’re reading this and thinking about starting a label business, I hope you see that it’s definitely do-able! Instead of thinking of it as one huge task, which can feel overwhelming, break everything down into small steps and take it one day at a time! And don’t get too focused on building your own solution for your website or accepting payments – there are so many great platforms like Shopify, Big Commerce, etc, that make setting up a retail site pretty easy! Think about small steps you can take, focus on keeping things simple in your business set-up and each day will get you closer to your goal!
While it took me 18 months to launch my business from starting to source a label factory to opening for retail sales (as I had to figure out each step of the process as I went), if I were armed with the knowledge I have now, I would have been able to accomplish everything in 90 days or less. I can also easily repeat the same product sourcing process I created through my journey to produce any product I wanted, not just labels! That’s a huge confidence booster!
I’m currently working on creating a course to share my label sourcing process for folks interested in repeating my process and embarking on their own label-making journey. If you’d like more information, you can sign up for updates here!
Are you thinking about starting your own business? What is currently holding you back?