Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
Hi guys! I'm Robert Mustafajev and I’m the founder of Skunky. I started this company this year with the sole purpose of expressing myself with high-quality clothing. The brand is in its early development stage and I wanted to share my story.
I want the clothing to be as luxurious as it can be while having an affordable price. Therefore anyone who wishes to wear Skunky can experience soft and long-lasting clothing without spending too much.
My main focus is to get out of my comfort zone and be able to wear whatever I want and be whatever I want without having to worry about other people's thoughts. So in a way, if you decide to follow this brand and join my journey you will be able to see how far we will manage to do that.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
When I started this brand I decided that the least I can do is try, I don't want to live my life thinking about the “What ifs” and the regret of not trying. Since I was about 13 I always dreamt of having a clothing brand, when I was in 7th grade I was telling everybody I want to be a businessman, so this truly has been a dream of mine since childhood.
Invest your time and finances, nothing comes without some sacrifices and that's the beauty of it. You have to be ready to give it your 110%.
Purely based on the fear that most of the times businesses fail I was always afraid to try because no one likes to lose money and at the same time no one wants to see their dreams fail. This is my first time doing this “business thing” on my own, therefore there's a lot of learning I've done and a lot of learning I have to do. But I do have some experience and it's thanks to my brother, he has had a lot of ideas and we both have done our very best to make those ideas successful.
The idea I have for Skunky is that I want to bring the best out of the worst. I believe everyone should try to transmute the bad energy into something positive and give back to the world around us. The brand shows the worst in a positive spotlight. For example, the logo is a poorly drawn skunk which I drew when I was really depressed and possibly was having the worst time of my life, but I drew it trying to be positive and have fun. Even the name of the brand gives the association of something stinky, something bad and no one doesn't want to be around that.
The only thing that makes it harder than it should be is the financial situation. Due to the lack of finances, it restricts a lot of simplistic things such as marketing and even receiving clothes. Recently I have left my job because my salary wasn't even enough for me to get to work. Due to COVID, I can't get enough shifts to make sure I have enough finances to take care of myself and Skunky. So right now I'm trying to get unemployment benefits and most of it is going into Skunky. Another thing I'm using to get the finances is Printful. It's not ideal and it's definitely not what I want the brand to be but I guess you have to try everything to know which works the best.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
For me, the whole process starts with inspiration. Most of the time the ideas start going through my head when I'm about to sleep. I just write them down, if I see them visually I draw a little sketch or just describe how it looks.
Mostly I use Adobe Illustrator for the whole designing process, sometimes I take some reference photos just to make sure the anatomy would be correct. Due to my lack of skill in Illustrator, a lot of my designs become unfinished because they didn't become the way I envisioned. But I always try and look back at them and maybe include some parts of it in another design.
Then there's the whole manufacturing process. I had a lot to learn, starting from the names that describe the whole design, names for the materials, and other nuances and ending with having to learn what even Tech Packs are. Right now the way I look for manufacturers is on Alibaba, and this includes a lot of trial and error. Always have to keep in mind that there is a language barrier and you have to be quite precise with the words you use to describe the design.
Later on, I plan to start sewing the clothes by myself and put the design on the clothing by myself, making each piece unique in its own way and having a personal connection to the clothing and the customers.
Describe the process of launching the business.
Skunky still hasn't made an official “Launch”. The way I'm making an online presence is by Reddit and Instagram. On Reddit, I sometimes post some design ideas on r/streetwearstartup but from my personal experience it hasn't been as helpful as I expected it to be, but through Reddit, I definitely made Skunky to be seen at least a little bit.
For my Instagram, I recently made an advertisement using Google Ads to receive more visits and followers there.
On both of these platforms, I have linked my Etsy website which, for now, includes the clothing which is made by Printful.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
Purely for the reason that I haven't made an official launch, there's not much I can say, but I have noticed a few things. One of those things is to make sure to be active, let people know that the brand exists, and let the people understand the look your brand has. Make sure you're known to others, I sometimes contact other start-up companies and let them know about my presence and get to know them, and most of the time they are willing to share some ideas and tips on how to make your brand stand out.
For Google Ads, I made a 5 USD budget per day to spend on ads. These are my statistics for a 10-day period. Here you can see that 26,8 thousand people have seen my advertisement and 685 people have been interested enough to check it out:
But in this 10 day period, I have only gained 10 followers on Instagram. I'm speculating that the reason for this small engagement is that I don't post much. What I did was I just posted some of the designs and let it be. I plan to do my best with frequent uploads and if you're interested you can check it out and see what has changed.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
This is only the beginning and there's a lot more to do. First of all my plan is to make all of the existing designs in the quality I want them to be, market them a lot, and when people buy them I will make sure to present it the best I can to ensure these customers come back again.
Even though all now you can see are hoodies and one available hat design. There will definitely be more to come. We will add T-shirts, pants, chains, jackets and a lot of small different accessories. And there's even more. Skunky will become available in digital form as well. If you are interested in the whole NFT and crypto world, then you might find this interesting - Skunky in the near future will become a crypto coin you can own! And on Mintable.app you can own limited editions of the designs as NFT's. To make sure you stay updated, feel free to follow us on Twitter and you will see everything we are doing.
My goal is to ensure that in the future you will be able to buy Skunky clothing without having to worry about the shipping costs and maybe even someday be seen in your local clothing store.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
I had a lot of learning to do and a lot of those things have become one of those everyday things. I've started to write down my thoughts and ideas every day, even if I took a small break. This has made me realize that some things just need time and that hard work truly isn't the same as smart work.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
Right now I’m mostly using Instagram for advertising and giving people a general idea of what it all is about. Instagram is one of the most-used apps on phones which has a wide range of people using it. TikTok is another app that is on that list, but I personally haven't figured out what to post there in regards to the brand.
Other platforms I use are Adobe Illustrator, which gets a lot of the designing work done. Etsy for selling purposes and Alibaba for finding manufacturers and usually on both of these platforms by just browsing can give you some new ideas to try out.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
To be completely honest I haven't read any books or listening to podcasts. Mostly everything I've done is pure because I've felt like it's the right thing to do. Not sure if these count but the only resources that I've used are Reddit and my friends' opinions about certain things.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting?
I guess the only best advice I could give, is to just do it. Don't let your fear take over your dreams and make sure you don't end up living in regret.
Make sure you actually invest in your business. Invest your time and finances, nothing comes without some sacrifices, and in my opinion, that's the beauty of it. You have to be ready to give it your 110%. I've noticed that a lot of people don't do anything because of fear and people who actually do something about their dream sometimes decide to quit in their first year because they haven't made much money or achieved what they wanted to achieve.
Owning a business has a lot of ups and downs, and a lot of the times you will receive negative feedback but don't let that stop you. Believe in yourself and your time will come, I believe anyone can achieve anything, they just have to work on it and let time do its own thing. Remember that practice makes perfect and sometimes the craziest ideas are the smartest ones.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
I would certainly want to hire some people to help me out, but due to the lack of budget, that's a thing I cannot afford as of right now. But if I could I would definitely want someone who could do the whole marketing thing. Because marketing is such a hugely wide subject I couldn't learn so fast while taking care of other things. And I would definitely appreciate it if I had someone who could teach me more about the designing process.
Where can we go to learn more?
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