How We Started A $18K/Month Sustainable And Durable Clothing Brand
Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
Hi, my name is Pepe Martín I´m the co-founder of Minimalismbrand. We started our business two years ago. We are two founders.
We wanted to create a brand that is focused on developing only products that are useful for our daily basics. We trust in quality versus quantity, we want people to have less stuff but the things that they have should be useful.
We think about minimalism as a way of life, having fewer things, all of them useful, quality made and sustainable. That is why we make our product in Portugal with organic cotton and we sell them everywhere.
We started selling just wallets, then backpacks and now we are focused on clothes (t-shirts, pullovers, hoodies, boxers, socks…)
We want Minimalism to become the brand that you look for whenever you need any basic in your life. By know, we got man clothes but we are thinking about women also.
Our flagship product is our wallet and our minimalism backpack. Also, all our organic clothes are doing well.
Our main customers are men between 20 and 45 that make things in a different way. In order to ask about production, quality, cotton, practice in our brand, conscious about the environment, and also focus on how he/she buys stuff. We don´t trust the stational economy, we sell basics to use them daily.
In Minimalism we want to be transparent. We are the first eCommerce in Spain that shows their numbers. We show how much we make, how much we invest, how many visits we have...we show everything on our web. Also, how we fabric everything and how we send it.
These are some of our products:
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
I´ve been developing brands for years. I guess Minimalism is the third one. I studied economy and business, I worked for big companies also and I´m the owner of a small agency in which we develop eCommerce, brands, and webs. It's call Growth Sherpas.
Minimalism came as an idea. Sell only products that we use every day, that are made in a sustainable way, that last in time and got a good design. Also, we got much experience with our clients because of our agency, so we know what to do to develop a brand, create our web and to start playing around with our eCommerce. So we try.
In the beginning, it was a game, but now we make 200K per year and got some employes. People like our product and our clothes are selling well without any logo on them. We really love what we are doing. We think we are changing the way people buy and also the way they think about design and, maybe, about life ;)
The project started with 2000€, 1000€ per founder. We invested 60% in product and technology and 40% in marketing. It's called bootstrapping, we had no salary, we heard nothing, but we love it and we invest everything we get. One time we achieved 150K per year we asked some VCs if they wanted to join our project. We made a deal and know we are tree partners.
Our recommendation, if you are looking for money, show before that you are able to sell and that you are involved in your project if not, it will be very difficult to find any money.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
Our design is kind of easy. Our products are basics. We don´t have any logo on our clothes. All that they have is a small green mark on the left side.
We want to be the referent in basic clothes in Europe and then move to the USA. People don´t like much to have a big logo on their clothes, we neither, so we design all our products with that idea in our top of mind.
All our products are made in a sustainable way. We produce our clothes in Portugal, we are part of the production process.
Our cotton is the best cotton that you can find, it's 100% organic and has no chemicals in it. Also, it's vegan, we don't test it in any animal at all. We take care of all the time of our fabric in order to be as sustainable as we can.
We have no plastic neither, all our orders are sent in carton or paper.
Also, we want our product to last in time, that why our quality is our priority. Our customer doesn't need to buy many pieces of stuff, they just need to buy the ones that are useful for their lives.
Try to learn every day, don´t spend all your money hiring people to do things that you can learn. Then, one time you’ve learned those skills, you can hire people to make them for you.
Describe the process of launching the business.
We are owners of a small agency in which we make webs, e-commerce and, also, we develop brands. So, we got all the ingredients that we need ;)
The first product that we launched was our wallets. We build a Shopify with a free theme. It looks really minimal and got only three products. I think we spent around 1.200€ in the first products and our web.
Then we spend 800€ in marketing. We focused our first campaign on Instagram. It worked.
But then we realized that we needed to build a brand with a mission, a feeling and customers that like not only the product but also the brand. That is the difference between just selling a product in the short term or building a brand in the long one. We are focus on the second one ;)
We have learned many things. One piece of knowledge that can help is that if you want to build a big business, you need money. To build an eCommerce you need stock, and you have to buy it before selling it. It´s risky. So, you need enough money to keep alive between the time that you buy your products and the time your customers buy them. If you have no cash you need a bank or a credit, you chose ;)
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
At the very beginning, it was enough with social media but in one or two years the CPC and CPA started to increase. We spend 15K per Q and it works but you cannot focus just on Instagram or Facebook.
So, if you want to develop a brand you cannot focus on adverts in social media, you should be focusing on branding.
We tried almost everything, we collaborate with influencers, we pay media, we made a campaign that achieved the national TV talking about Black Friday: It was called: “Don't buy if you don't need it”. People loved it and it went viral. People just bought what they needed, it was nice because they understood what we wanted to create with our company. It was awesome.
Also, we have our blog, where we talk about how we launch Minimalism, which technology we use, how much we spend, all of our metrics. Transparency is the goal of our business and people love it.
For example, we summarize our Qs, every three months, you can have a look here.
We also have a podcast, it´s called Open startups by Minimalism, in which we talk with other businesses, we bring the CEOs and we ask them about almost everything. It brings us much good traffic to our website and we grow the brand through our content.
One thing that we learned is that you cannot depend on Facebook or Instagram. If you want to go big, you better create something that people value, as a blog, Youtube channel or a podcast, even if you can try all of them, maybe one of them will work.
Logistics is a very important thing if you are thinking about starting an eCommerce. I think is better to outsource that service. It's not expensive at all and you can focus on what is really important: selling.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Today we are doing “well”. We got many plans for the future, even with the coronavirus pandemic hitting us hard.
In 10 days we will launch our new website with a new design. It´s going to be minimal, for sure, and also we have developed all our web just focusing on our clients, which includes our blog and our podcast pages.
Also, we got many new products coming, that we make in Portugal. We will launch new t-shirts, pullovers, hoodies, new boxers, socks...and maybe some new products ;)
This year we want to focus on the European market, being the basic brand that anyone can need. Our focus is on quality versus quantity. We produce in a sustainable way in Portugal with 100% organic cotton in all our products. Our customers are asking for this kind of products, they want to know how and where everything is done, soy, we explain it to them.
Also, we are working with influencers that really like our brand and that we got many values in common, stay tuned, the collabs will be very interesting.
Talking about numbers, our goal is to achieve 400K in revenue this year. But let’s see how coronavirus affects the global economy.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
Sure. There are many that can help.
First: Cash. You need cash to develop a brand. I´ve said it before. But you need to stock your products. We did it that way and it could be risky. If you got a big community you can try crowdfunding or presale, but at the very end, you will need cash to stock.
Second: Logistics. This a very important thing if you are thinking about starting an eCommerce. In the beginning, you can send all the orders yourself, but you must focus on marketing and getting bigger and not in delivery. I think is better to outsource that service with a partner. It's not expensive at all and you can focus on what is really important: selling.
We got only one warehouse and they manage stock, picking, packing and delivery. One time you know what you want, and how you want your orders to be delivered, is better if you contract that service with a warehouse.
Three: Not all the collabs work. I mean, you should try almost everything to bring quality traffic to your website. Sometimes it's influencers, sometimes media, adverts...try everything and invest money in the one that works.
Four: Team. Try to hire people that understand the business. Even if they are young or they don't have a degree. In the beginning, you need energy not only titles. Find people that can help to develop a company that you can be proud of owning.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
We work 100% remotely so, we need everything to be present in our tools.
- Slack: To communicate all the time
- Notion: Everything should be in notion. Marketing, communication, design...everything.
- Whereby: to “see” each other.
Our website is developed using Shopify, and we also use some apps:
- Bundles: To bundle our single products
- Weglot: to translate our website
- Zendesk: customer service
- Quaderno: invoice
Also, we use phone calls if something is “urgent”. And we try to drink some beers together. At least one time per month.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
Our podcast is truly inspired. Just kidding but people love it. It´s in Spanish. Here you can check it if you want.
Also, two books that I really like, talking about business and brands:
- Shoe Dog. Nike founder.
- Let my people go surfing. Patagonia founder.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
The best advice is: Be ready to learn everything.
I mean, at the very beginning you need to know about branding, about the website, about suppliers, about law, about business, about logistics...try to learn every day, don´t spend all your money hiring people to do things that you can learn. Then, one time you’ve learned those skills, you can hire people to make them if your business is growing.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
Right now we are three people in our team. Two owners and one designer.
We just hire people, sometimes freelancers, when we don't know how to do something.
Right now, with the COVID-19 situation, we are not thinking about hiring.
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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