This is a follow up story for Swoveralls. If you're interested in reading how they got started, published over 4 years ago, check it out here.
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
Kyle here again! Founder and Chief Swoveralls Officer at Swoveralls - a digitally native brand focused on creating the world’s comfiest and unique apparel products using sustainable resources, and ethical manufacturing methods. You can learn more about our origin story here in our first starter story article.
Our hero products are called Swoveralls, and they’re the glorious combination of sweatpants and overalls into one incredibly comfy masterpiece. Swoveralls are unisex in sizing, and are designed for people who love to be comfortable, yet also express themselves through mildly quirky clothing.
We like to think of the comfy fam as a community that loves to zig when most zag, and consider the environment and those that inhabit it with every purchase decision they make. As a member of 1% for the planet, 1% of every purchase made goes to nonprofits focused on helping mother nature.
2022 is shaping up to be our biggest year yet in almost every way imaginable. From a sales standpoint, we’re up 30% from last year through the first 5.5 months of the year. From a product standpoint, we’ll be launching not only more different Swoveralls this year than we ever have before, but we’ll also be launching our second ever product later this Spring/Summer! To conclude, the future's looking bright, and comfy. Very comfy 🔮.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to. Has the business been growing?
Swoveralls sales continue to go up and to the right. Some big recent highlights include us bringing on strategic growth partners and also unlocking TikTok.
Strategic growth partners - Swoveralls is now a proud member of The Hedghog Company's portfolio of brands. The HH company is a fund composed of DTC builders, operators, and designers who have invested in brands they believe in. This has been life-changing for the brand as we’re now in a more stable inventory position, and have more bandwidth to provide an overall (or maybe, Swoverall) better experience for our customers.
Biggest ongoing lesson continues to be managing customer expectations from a supply chain standpoint.
On the TikTok side of things, with the help of HH, our Founder Kyle (me writing in the third person) has been able to focus on building out TT and become essentially the mascot of the brand. While Swoveralls were created before TT even existed, it seems like they were made for the platform, and we’ve seen some insane growth there in the first half of 2022. We’ve found success by doing a blend of organic content, and then hopping on trends, as well as replying to comments, and doing some giveaways too. TikTok right now is like the good ol’ days on Instagram; a very desaturated channel with a ton of room for growth!
Snapshot of Q1 TikTok data:
What have been your biggest challenges in the last year?
With the iOS updates, a big challenge has been monetizing our paid marketing campaigns to the level we’ve historically seen them at. Historically, it seemed like any Swoveralls picture would provide strong results on FB/IG, but now we’ve had to become more strategic with using solid UGC content, or partnering with content creators and utilizing their audiences to create strong ad impressions with viewers.
TikTok has helped, but we know we and almost everyone else are on the FB/IG struggle bus. It creates an opportunity for us to look at other areas we can improve, like enhancing our email drip series, and other customer touchpoints like SMS text.
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
Biggest ongoing lesson continues to be managing customer expectations from a supply chain standpoint. We used to add ~2 weeks on to any product launch deadline just in case, and now that’s growing into a ~4-week buffer as things continue to be unpredictable, but also prohibitively expensive in aspects too.
I do believe in going slower-ish is the fastest way to get where we want to be.
As a part-time/adjunct professor at NYU who teaches an undergraduate class in supply chain management…the irony is not lost on me that we continue to experience challenges although I live and breathe in this space from both a real-world and academic perspective every week.
The skills/habits I have found most helpful in regards to mitigating supply chain uncertainty involve keeping your pulse on current events/shipping trends while in tandem continuing to have ongoing conversations with other brand builders and existing/potential vendor partners to keep your options and communication channels as flexible as possible.
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
The next year will include a brand new product, plus an added focus on our partnerships and licensing programs. The last 5 years have been focused on just Swoveralls and growing awareness of our hero (and only product) through organic (such as going on podcasts, doing blogs like this, in-person speaking events, talking with existing customers) and paid efforts.
While we might accelerate our product launch (and not stay on the “new launch every 5-year cadence”) I do believe going slower-ish is the fastest way to get where we want to be. I think there’s a major opportunity within our existing products to grow our partnership and licensing programs, so in the year 2027 I think Swoveralls will look a little bigger from a product assortment standpoint, but much bigger from awareness and customer perspective due to us working with some amazing brands and humans.
What’s the best thing you read in the last year?
Three books come to mind:
- Never Metaphor I didn’t like. I love speaking in metaphors/analogies, and my wife got this for me. So good!
- The Splendid and the Vile. Very interesting read about Churchill, who is officially my new favorite person from history (and was personally a huge fan of the onesie as well!)
- The Sweet Spot.Very validating about why we seek pain/suffering…not only as an entrepreneur but also in my fitness journey of going pro in Ironman events!
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
Short answer is: speak with as many other founders/entrepreneurs as you can. On one hand, misery loves company :), on the other hand, I truly believe we are the average of those we spend the most time with…and so if you want to be a successful business owner…get in front of other business owners and understand what makes them tick!
Longer answer: I started another business during the Pandemic, which we already shut down! I wrote a recap on it here that has some advice/thoughts as well.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
Not for any specific position, but always interested in meeting motivated and driven people who vibe with the Swoveralls brand purpose and goals.
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.
Get our 5-minute email newsletter packed with business ideas and money-making opportunities, backed by real-life case studies.
- 4,818 founder case studies
- Access to our founder directory
- Live events, courses and recordings
- 8,628 business ideas
- $1M in software savings