The Biggest Mistake I Made When Starting My Clothing Line

Starting a clothing line is not the easiest thing to do. There seems to be no surefire way that will guarantee success. I’m wary of calling any part of the path of Tabii Just a mistake because I’ve learned so much from each misstep. There is one thing I did at the very beginning that resulted in wasted money, time and energy that I wish I could go back in time and undo.

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When I started my line, I had all these lofty goals about how I wanted things to look. Couple that with limited knowledge of the tech world and you have a formula for disaster. I was sure I wanted a beautiful website. Having a strong web presence is super important and I wanted mine to be unique. I wanted to stand out! I wanted a custom-made website. I attended lots of business expos and found a web company that took me out and did a bit of wining and dining. I was sold. I hired them. I soon found out that their idea of chic and elegant was way off base. They offered me only a partial refund since they had already built a site. I found another one at another business expo (see a pattern here?) that I liked. I started working with them and was pleasantly surprised at how accessible they were. Their fee, though, was so expensive that I couldn’t pay all of it in one lump sum. I was sure it was worth it, though. They directed me to all these glossy, professional sites they had built and I was impressed. We decided that I would pick a WordPress theme and they would customize it. After they built it, the problems started. I wanted the font just a tad bigger, which cost extra. I wanted the color changed. You guessed it! This cost extra. Over the course of a year, every minor change I wanted cost more and more dinero and they were getting annoyed that I was getting annoyed at this. I wanted them to show me how to do it. They assured me it was too complicated for me to understand.

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One thing no-one tells you when you launch your line is that as your knowledge increases, your tastes will most likely change. Soon, my website didn’t meet my needs or my tastes. I wanted to launch an online store but had to create an external link from my website because, surprise, integrating it would cost extra. I started checking out my designer friends’ sites and asking them about theirs. I was shocked to learn that most went with simple templates and no customization. Their sites were beautiful!

I finally decided that a functioning e-commerce site was much more important than a unique site. I also brought on an IT expert to my board of advisors. He quickly saw that they built the site in such a way that only they could make changes even through WordPress. It took one solid weekend of manually transferring my information across and many very productive calls to the support teams at GoDaddy and Shopify  to come up with a site that I loved, was easy to navigate on the backend and that WORKED smoothly! I “designed” it myself from a simple template and am able to integrate my newsletter, social media outlets, etc to the site seamlessly.

I wish I could go to every emerging designer who is thinking of getting a website and tell them to go with a template website as opposed to all these smaller web companies that promise you the sky. It’s not worth the headache and it’s a complete waste of money to build a custom site. These platforms are easy to learn on your own. That knowledge will save you money. The customer support at Godaddy and Shopify are seriously amazing and you will come to love them like family.

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I survived my biggest mistake which was having a custom built site.  To emerging designers, I would say, do some research, talk to other designers and be frugal. Go with a website template because you’re going to need your money for manufacturing.

This post was originally published on May 29, 2014.

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