November 5, 2019
Running a business is not as simple as it seems. At least not in my experience.
Over the past year I’ve hit every bump the road had to offer and held on by the thinnest of lifelines. Unfortunately, a couple of months ago a perfect storm set in and set back my operations that had me on the canvas for a few counts. My site went down, orders became seriously delayed and my confidence to continue was crushed. Since that time I’ve had to sit uncomfortably with the state of RBGtees and the feeling of failure with a major case of shoulda woulda coulda’s.
At the inception of this brand, it was simply a side-hustle venture and the opportunity to learn something new. I had no business experience and never designed a valentines card much less a sweatsuit. I had a vision of what I wanted to wear and learned how to bring it to life piece by piece. I knew my market would be small, but I knew that would be enough since I never expected to take it seriously. Besides, I wasn’t interested in making clothes for everyone, just folk that saw the world the way that I did. After releasing 4 designs I found my audience and was tapped into the frequency of the people just like myself.
5 months into my journey I quit my job and spent 20 hours a day learning as much as I could while fulfilling a stream of orders. Things were better than I could’ve imagined, but time for my family diminished and put major strains on all of my relationships. Unfortunately, the next 3 years went the same way, only coming out of my office to set up at an occasional event like an Umar lecture or festival. Even then, when I got back home I would have to double down on order fulfillment. All while still working out of my spare bedroom.
With all of my time being totally captive, I was prevented from doing the one major thing we must do in search of independence, diversify my income. Therefore, whenever a life emergency happens, resources would come out of operations with no way of replacing it. I knew nothing about business credit or how to scale up and completely created weight that I could not carry. Most of what business owners learn before going into business I missed out on because once I started, I was in neck deep. And side hustle tactics don’t work when you’re a full fledge business.
Needless to say, I’ve been able to rebuild and revamp the way we operate to ensure sustainability. I see where the majority of my mistakes took place and put proper measures in place to avoid the same in the future. Now it’s a matter of regaining status of a force by first making good on any supporters that have been left hanging and regaining the confidence of the public. (granted the number is small, but just one is way too much for me). One of my main missions while building was to respect our resources and ensure I would not be the reason anyone frowned upon doing business with a black owned company. I’ve failed a few times and am not happy about that but hope that I get another shot at becoming worthy.
As part of my restructure, my product offering will look different. Any items that were homemade and required first hand involvement are no longer available. Partly because of the work and partly wanting to raise the level of production (replacing iron on patches with more permanent solutions for example). They will become available on a limited basis as my ability and confidence to do so permits. Of course I’ll keep you posted via email. Also, I’ve contracted professionals to help fulfill my orders so you won’t get the overstuffed envelopes or boxes anymore. These measures will make RBGtees less profitable but more sustainable and accountable.
I will keep you all posted on the progress, wins and losses as I continue to learn and grow the brand. Thank you all for your continued support and taking the time to read this. There was no way I could push forward without providing insight as I value all of you.