Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
Greetings, my name is Paul Bucklin and I am a co-founder of Logoclothz, where promoting isn’t just a job, it’s a lifestyle. We are a new kind of promotional products company that specializes in custom printed tablecloths.
My business partner, Ryan Cunningham and I wanted to simplify the buying process and make buying promotional printed items less confusing. Our emphasis is on providing great customer service and building real relationships with our customers.
Our staple products include custom printed spandex table covers and logo printed tablecloths. We also offer logo printed table runners, full-color printed banners, step-and-repeat printed backdrops, custom printed table skirts, printed trash can covers, and more.
All of our promotional items can be custom printed in full-color to make your brand stand out at any event. We take pride in helping all sorts of companies both large and small, schools, non-profit organizations, churches, and government entities stand out.
We launched our website in Dec of 2018 and within a day or so, we had our first online order. My business partner Ryan is a wizard when it comes to Search Engine Optimization.
It was a slow start initially, however, we are now growing at an increased rate and it’s only going to get better from here. Our current revenue as of October 2019 is 15K a month.
What's your backstory?
I always pictured myself working for someone else and never thought I would be the owner of a company. I am not a natural-born entrepreneur and my aspirations were never outlandish. I have a natural talent for drawing and imagined myself doing something creative with my career but I never really knew exactly what it would be.
I have had countless jobs, including a skate guard working in an ice arena to a graphic designer creating web pages. I feel every job I have had in the past though, has led me to where I am today, the co-owner of Logoclothz LLC.
I learned how to be a leader and better manage projects as a catering manager. I learned how to organize and streamline production as a production artist and I gained customer service skills as a print manager. I was content gaining as much experience as I could, excelling at every position I took on. I never really wanted anything more.
It wasn’t until I realized that I was working my tail off to build someone else’s dream that I decided to make the change to a business owner. One day I had a thought that put me into a panic. I thought I would work at the same job for a horrible boss for the rest of my life and that at the end of it, I would have nothing to show.
We have all had bad work experiences and mine was no different. I just made a decision to do something about it and followed through.
How did you come up with the idea?
I quit my 9 to 5 with no money saved and no real plan. The environment in which I was working forced me out but it was the best thing that could have happened. A month or so passed and I reached out to Ryan to see what he was up to. Ryan worked at the same place I just left but quit a day before. We met a day later and the rest is history.
Ryan has experience building e-commerce websites and getting them to rank using key search engine optimization techniques. I have experience as a graphic designer and as a production manager. We both had experience in the promotional products industry as well.
You are going to make mistakes so embrace them and learn from them. I truly believe that your reaction to your mistakes will either make or break you, not the actual mistake.
When we put our heads together we came up with Logoclothz. A website dedicated to offering the best of promotional items in a simple and easy to understand way. We knew the market from our previous experience and felt confident in our direction. We sampled products from a few suppliers and tried their workflow. Ultimately we decided on offering products that give the customer the best value for their money.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
If you have ever shopped for promotional products you may already know how confusing the process can be. There are literally thousands of products and then several versions of the same product.
My business partner and I wanted to simplify the buying process. When setting up Logoclothz LLC a big part of the process was solving customer problems. We used our previous experience in the promotional industry to answer those problems and offer products in a less confusing way.
Before launching the website we sampled products to find ones that would offer the best value. We looked at the quality of the product and its cost. Once we were set on the items we would offer we went through a process to determine the simplest ways to offer those products to customers online.
It was a mess on paper; we had diagrams drawn, outlines, mock-ups, Excel sheets, and my favorite, sticky pad notes everywhere. Once we had the idea down on paper and finalized, we went to work building the website.
I don’t think either of us has ever worked as hard and as long hours as we did when building the Logoclothz website. Every word had to be written and spell checked. A logo had to be developed. Every image and product variant had to be created. We then created social profiles for the business, youtube videos, product videos, and a blog.
Once the website was ready we went through the legal process of registering Logoclothz LLC. We opened a business bank account and established relations with One Tree Planted and Project New Hope, Ma. As a way of giving back, we decided to donate a portion of all sales to a charity of the customer’s choosing. Giving back is a big part of the reason why we are doing what we do here at Logoclothz.
Describe the process of launching the business.
Before launching the website for our business we spent a few months building up social profiles for the company. We created a ton of content and put it all over the web using keywords related to the business.
We did everything we could to establish our brand before launching our website. We created a logo and made sure that every piece of content we put out was branded. We even passed out branded flyers to local businesses.
Once the website was launched we kept pushing content and slowly gained more visitors to the site. In about three months there was a large increase in visitors, from about 30 or 40 a day to 80.
Once revenue increased we were able to spend on advertisements which really helped to increase visibility. My business partner and I left as much money in the company as we could so we could grow the company faster.
One of the first lessons I learned as a business owner is that it’s not fair to count on family or friends to help grow your business. It’s not theirs to grow and nurture. I realized it was unfair of me to expect them to care as much as I did about my business.
To finance the business my business partner and I went into debt living off of credit cards. I moved into my parents' home with my wife to keep our living costs down and Ryan took on some freelance work. Just recently my step-dad passed away so it’s a good thing that I moved home anyway.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
Growing a new online company with a limited budget takes a huge amount of sweat equity. Consistent effort is the key to success but also understands that every day you’re laying a few more bricks for the foundation of your business and its digital footprint.
We consistently followed our plan every day, social postings, sharing posts commenting on engaging, hashtagging, blogging leveraging Pinterest and other free traffic sources. With customer service being our laser focus we considered YouTube to be a great platform to educate our customers, help them in understanding the printing process, options of product available and so on.
Public relations and Press releases also have been a big focus for us. Seizing every opportunity that presented itself our involvement with our chosen charities has not only allowed us to fulfill our mission of making everything we come into contact with better, but it has also led to do business with like-minded individuals and companies
Here is some pertinent information that speaks to our launch and our continued success.
Our SEO plan in brief.
The slide below shows ours out of the gate.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
We are 9 full months in business now. We are profitable turning an average of $15K per month and climbing at a 40% growth per month. We don't have any year on year as yet but we are growing very fast. We just hired a full-time SEO company to get things ramping even quicker.
Sales are online and building repeat business with our new customers has become a huge profit center, our customer service being our number one priority has proven to be the best policy as we always knew. Customers are staying with us for their products thanks to us delivering and following our plan and mantra to always give more and help wherever we can.
Our short term goals are to continue to grow, start getting paid ourselves as we have been pushing everything back into the business to make it grow. Then hire our first employee and build out from there.
We will be the number one resource for custom printed tablecloths on the internet and in the USA.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
Through starting our online business I realized that there is a lot I do not know.
Registering the business, filing for taxes, and building the website were tedious tasks I knew nothing about. To be honest, some of those were things I never even considered.
Once the website was running I was quickly surprised to see how much money we were paying other companies. It seemed we were paying out more than what we were collecting as a profit.
After 9 full months in business, we are profitable. Turning an average of $15K per month and climbing at a 40% monthly growth.
We were paying UPS for shipping, PayPal for processing fees, Adobe for graphic design software and more. We were even donating to charities before taking a paycheck. It was all needed to establish our business but it adds up quickly.
Which leads me to the next thing I learned, it’s better to use your profits to quickly grow the business than it is to pocket the profits. To me, it made sense to spend profits on advertisements rather than take a cut of the profit for myself. This ultimately will help our company grow faster and increase profits.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
One of the keys to opening our company was to keep the running costs at a minimum.
We also wanted to set up the business so that it could virtually be run from our laptops and cell phones. If only Adobe Illustrator would work on smartphones.
This allows us to essentially be able to work from anywhere where there is an internet connection. Employees are also able to work from home, leaving less of a footprint environmentally.
A list of platforms and tools we use for our business is below:
- BigCommerce - Website
- BrainTree & PayPal - Payment Processors
- UPS - Shipping Provider
- Google Suite - Free Company Network System
- TawkTo - Free Online Chat System
- Grasshopper - Phone Service
- Adobe Creative Cloud - Used for all graphics and artwork.
- Tiny PNG - Online service that compresses images making them quicker to load.
- McAffee - Virus Protection Software
- Ahrefs - SEO Software
- SEMrush - SEO Software
- GSC - Google Search Console
- GMB - Google My Business (great asset)
These platforms and tools allow us to work remotely, keep running costs down, and ultimately provide our customers with a professional service.
With BigCommerce we could build a secure website that would include tons of features. Braintree and Paypal are used to process payments made through the website and we use UPS for shipping purposes.
By utilizing Google’s GSuite we are able to access files from anywhere using any device. Anyone with access can instantly look into a customer’s file and track the progress of an order. All of which is interlinked making it a breeze to find anything.
With TawkTo and Grasshopper, we are able to keep in constant communication with our customers utilizing our cell phones if needed. It allows us to assist people in real-time whether by phone, text, fax, or instant message.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
Personally, I do not like to read. I would prefer to read the back of the book or just ask someone what it’s about. That being said, my business partner introduced me to one book I actually read.
It was called Get Your Sh*t Together: How to Stop Worrying About What You Should Do So You Can Finish What You Need to Do and Start Doing What You Want to Do, written by Sarah Knight.
I really enjoyed the book and found many tips on how to better organize, prioritize, and get things done. Besides the book I found Tony Robbins, Gary Vaynerchuk, Richard Branson, and even Joe Rogan to be motivational and inspirational.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
My advice for other entrepreneurs just starting would be to focus, strategize, and to commit - A little insert from Sarah Knight’s book, “Get Your Sh*t Together.”
A lot of people told me that I shouldn’t go into business with a business partner. They were giving me advice based on their bad experiences and I must admit, it felt as if they were passing their fears onto me.
In reality, I couldn’t have done any of it without my business partner. You are going to meet people that are great at one thing but not so great at other things. I am not great at everything. I needed my business partner. Together with our experience, knowledge, and skillset, we make a great team.
Lastly, I would tell new entrepreneurs to not be afraid. You are going to make mistakes so embrace them and learn from them. I truly believe that your reaction to your mistakes will either make or break you, not the actual mistake. You can fix mistakes but you can’t make someone forget your reaction to them.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
Currently, I run our day to day operations ensuring emails and phone calls are answered, proofs are sent, and orders fulfilled. Ryan works continuously behind the scenes updating the website and products, and more.
In the near future, we hope to bring on board someone for social media, a customer service rep., and a production artist or production manager.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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