This is a follow up story for Bryden Apparel. If you're interested in reading how they got started, published over 3 years ago, check it out here.
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
Our customers are usually small to medium-sized businesses. We take pride in helping them compete with bigger brands by offering a wide range of customization & product options that are typically out of reach due to large order quantities imposed by manufacturers.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to. Has the business been growing?
Since our last story in 2020, business went down by 40% due to challenges from the pandemic. Our customers paused their production orders or went out of business and there were hardly any new customers.
The following year in 2021, business improved slightly and our revenue increased by 16%. We lost about $60,000 during this period, which offset the profits from the year before.
During this time, we looked inwards to see what we could do to overcome this situation:
- We managed to refinance our business loan and negotiated a lower monthly payment amount to ease our cash flow.
- We cut our expenditures and restructured/automated our processes. For example, we got rid of software that was redundant or not frequently used, which adds up to a few thousand dollars saved a year.
- We cut back on our marketing spending on Google Ads as there was no point in spending marketing dollars with so much uncertainty in the world.
To make up for the cut in marketing, we wrote high-quality, valuable articles for our customers and in return, boosted organic search results.
For example, our article on fabric recommendations for several categories (streetwear, womenswear, etc) was well received, as our customers got a better understanding of the various fabric options and how to apply them.
We also launched our tech pack services as we noticed that many clients do not have these, which is necessary for a smooth production process. This increased our revenue and improved efficiency as it reduced communication issues by 90%.
Some customers have returned, which I believe is a testament to our customer service and clothing quality.
What have been your biggest challenges in the last year?
The drop in revenue over the last two years has taken a toll on both my co-founder and myself mentally. We didn’t take any salary for several months and had to cut back on personal expenses to tide through this tough period.
As a leader, it’s essential to share your aspirations and vision, provide support and motivate your team.
During this time, it’s easy to blame yourself for all the things that didn’t go your way, doubt yourself, and want to quit. While it’s important to keep hunting for business, it’s important to reflect on your personal, mental, and physical health.
I started working out more frequently, as I want to use the discipline and improvements from my health and apply it to my mindset for the business.
Reading from other thought leaders and having honest conversations with my partners, staff, and loved ones have helped me get through this tough period.
I am learning to separate my identity from my business – this has helped clear my mind and minimized the blame I put on myself.
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
Our Google AdWords campaign didn’t work well, but thankfully our earlier efforts in building organic traffic helped cover for the loss in traffic from AdWords.
Google Adwords has changed in a sense and our old campaign didn’t do as well as before. We need to understand if the changes were due to algorithms, competition, or other factors due to the current macro-economical climate around the world.
We are reassessing if we should continue investing in Google Adwords as it’s pretty expensive. We are currently considering other content marketing channels like TikTok & YouTube to provide content that is useful for our target audience.
We hired external help for content creation, but that didn’t work out so well as the deliverables took a long time. I found out the external writers required a lot of hand-holding as they were unfamiliar with our industry and needed more time to research. So it’s back to me coming up with content ideas and creating them.
While we have gotten busier in the last year as the pandemic improved, we have been mindful not to overlook simple things like communicating with customers, the team, and our partners. As a leader, it’s essential to share your aspirations and vision, provide support and motivate your team.
One of the biggest changes we made this year was to create our PLM system (Product Lifecycle Management) using Notion, which help to streamline our administrative process and centralize all the dates, replacing the need for multiple spreadsheets. It has kept the team aligned and clear of what’s happening for each stage and project as everyone can update in real-time in one place.
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
We are always thinking of new ideas to help our customers, but it’s a matter of choosing and validating them before investing resources to do it. Embarking on a new idea that is not well planned can end up being detrimental and a waste of time.
We observed that the streetwear market is still growing and we want to serve this market to the best of our ability.
We see ourselves doing that by updating with the latest technologies in clothing manufacturing, establishing strategic partnerships with curated suppliers, and improving quality to provide a more premium offering.
Another initiative we plan to do is to create a resource guide for our customers to help them grow and scale their brands. We realized that many of our clients have difficulties in marketing their launch and sustaining their marketing efforts, leading to them being demoralized and giving up.
Our personal goal is to help at least one brand grow to six figures revenue.
What’s the best thing you read in the last year?
Almanack of Naval Ravikant is one of the most interesting books I have read recently and has opened my mind to see things differently.
Mr Naval has a ton of interesting advice for entrepreneurs, and one of my favorites is the skills of decision-making.
Aside from business advice, he also touched on happiness and personal growth, which are important for entrepreneurs and founders to not neglect while they are busy growing their businesses.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
Have an open mind and try new things – even things that you tried before that didn’t work out.
Your past mistakes don’t define you, so don’t be afraid to try even though it’s not going to be perfect.
You can always refine and improve along the way.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Bryden Apparel has provided an update on their business!
About 2 years ago, we followed up with Bryden Apparel to see how they've been doing since we published this article.
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