August 1, 2008
We interview Wesley Jagod of Wes J Clothing.
TM: When did you decide that t-shirts was your thing?
WJ: At first, I imagined having a full line of Mens and Womens clothing that incorporated my designs. However, I understood that without a large amount of collatoral and experience, I had to start small. Thus, I chose to start with the basics such as T-Shirts and Hoodies. Also, I have realized that the basic staples such as T-Shirts and Jeans were what anyone/everyone can wear on a daily basis.
TM: How long have you been in the t-shirt biz? And what have you learned?
WJ: I have been doing my “clothing line specific” designs for the past year and half. This January, 2008, was when I recieved my business liscence and officially started selling the T-Shirts/Hoodies online. Since then, the business has grown to selling to “out of state” online buyers, being asked to have my line in two local stores (Four Starrs Boutique & Paris Texas, both in Bellingham, WA), in addition to being featured in T-Shirt Magazine. I have learned a lot of the ups and downs to owning and running a clothing business may it be strictly online, in a store, or both. Trial and error definitley helped me figure the “who, what, when, where, and why” aspect of the T-shirt and clothing business. For example, in my home, I have plenty of designs that I, personally liked on one side of a wall in a room, while those designs that my friends, family, and other people of the sorts liked on the opposite wall. This helped me figure out that just because I liked a design does not mean that others will. In addition, I learned that it takes a lot of consistent personal time and effort. The fashion business is cut throat, always changing, and always waiting, ready for the next big thing. In other words, never find yourself stagnant, because your fire/popularity could be stolen from the next rising clothing line or forgotten all together.
TM: Do your run your label by yourself or do you have a team?
WJ: I run my label by myself. From all the designs by hand, to using a small digital camera to do all the photographs for the website and photoshoots, investing my own money, creating and implementing my own marketing strategies, and to networking with clothing retailers and businesses alike.
TM: Your designs are very simplistic and limited in color. Why did you choose to make your designs that way?
WJ: I have observed that the art on T-shirts and tops in general have been bombareded with out-landish, crazy, psychadelic, and full bodied designs that have been made on a computer. I understand that some great designs require computer enhancement, however, I pride myself to create one of kind designs naturally, all by using a pencil and paper. Initially, I wanted to use colors that would be easy to complement or anyone can wear anytime. Also, I chose the colors neutrality because I wanted to test the designs on T-shirts/Hoodies and find out what people were suggesting or requesting for different colors. Thus, the specific colors chosen would be those that the majority would like rather than wasting time, money, and product trying a million different colors until one color was a success.
TM: What would you say your niche is and what has been your best marketing vehicle in targeting that audience?
WJ: My niche is networking. The saying, “it’s not what you know, but who you know,” has definitely helped me in my success. Especially, taking the risk of creating a self-titled clothing line I do not think I could have had as much success without those I have met on the way and the relationships I have made. Yes, I created and run my own clothing business, however, I could not survive without the help of my friends and the business contacts I have at my desposal. Keeping everyone in the loop with the clothing line, may it be through online with my website, emails, blogs, or sites such as t-shirtmagazine.com, or passing out phsycial flyers around town, getting stores to carry my merchandise, etc. has kept people’s attention.
TM: What’s in the works for the future of your label?
WJ: I have been creating new designs that people can relate too. Being from the West Coast and more specifically, the Pacific Northwest, I have realized that people like to wear designs that they can be proud to wear. I have had such success with the Skyline & Crusin design because it represents the Pacific Northwest. However, I am working on designs that would appeal to anyone around the nation, hopefully, around the world. I will be coming out with new hats, track jackets, and adding new colors to the line as well. I have plans which are in the works to have the clothing line in more stores, sponsoring a Skimboarding company (DB Skimboards), and working out a fair trade sponsorship with a local rock band. As for long term, I would love to have a full line of Mens & Ladies tops, bottoms, and accessories.
TM: What tips could you give to others trying to get into the t-shirt biz?
WJ: If you research the basics such as the, “what, where, when, why, and who,” and rule out overnight success, it is a great starting point. It may take a very long time and a lot more downs than ups to break even or for your first sale, but know that you will get as much out of the business as much as you put in to it. Never stop networking and staying in touch with those people or businesses that can help you later down the road. My bottom line is, is to take the risk and have fun with it. If you fail or succeed, at least you will be able to tell those people who’ve always wanted to try starting thier own T-shirt/clothing business that you were proud enough to take that risk and not tell them “what if.”
Visit Wes J Clothing‘s online shop!