Being a business owner is hard. It is not an easy feat to take that jump and rely on your own charisma, skills, and network to accomplish your dreams. Or even relying on the economy, your clients, customers, vendors, and simple IT functions to run smoothly. If any of those fail, a small bump in the road turns into a pot hole that forever damages your reputation, career, and personal self esteem. For us, the first month of being open, a small bump in the road turned into a sink hole that could have put us under.
It is obvious that there are a lot of factors that play into making a business into what it is. And I am just learning how far this rabbit hole falls. I am the Co-owner of the young, but meaningful online shop, The Giving Tee Inkery.
The Giving Tee Inkery is an online store that caters to nonprofits by making custom apparel, selling it on our site, and donating 50% of our profits back to them. Best part is, it is free for the nonprofit to join. Currently we have over 25 nonprofit partners and our numbers are continuing to grow. In addition to the custom apparel we make, we also have our own line of items called the Apple Collective. All items marked with our apple icon in the product description, is collectively donated to one of our partners. I am very happy to say that Helping Rhinos is currently receiving 50% of the total profits made from our collection.
From the beginning, there is a lot of legal, branding, and planning that happens before we even opened our doors. Both David and I began the process last November and didn't launch for another 6 months following. In the time we took planning, we were finding our first nonprofit partners, our vendors, picking out the clothing, branding, shooting all the product images, and aligning all that with our stores website. By April 18th, we were live online and had a launch party that weekend.
The first week we were operating beyond expectations because of the great turn out at the launch party and a lot of outside orders were placed. We had no bumps in the road, but that all soon changed. Our vendor who's job was to print and ship our clothing completely failed. The timing it took to get the orders out the door was horrifying late. All the orders we had from the launch party and all the orders from the first 2 weeks didn't even leave their facilities till weeks past our agreement. We even had a handful of shirts go to the nonprofit directors, Instagram influencers, and several customers with bad prints. Shirt showed up at their door with wrong colors and visible banning.
What was I to do? I spent months developing a way for our online platform to align with the purchase orders, but once the vendor failed, the Giving Tee Inkery was failing too. Quickly, I began re-researching my back up options. I dropped my first vendor and aligned GTI with who I am currently working with.
I went into panic mode and pulled all nighters redoing the site, redoing the order platform, and patching up the bad relations that were caused. It was truly rough because my dream of owning my own business was being majorly tested in just a couple weeks of being open. Though tired and distraught, I did it.
Today GTI is doing well. We are slowly growing, creating new nonprofit partners, and finding new customers who agree with our goals to change the world.
I knew that being a business owner is going to be hard because anything worth having takes effort, determination, and persistence. My bump in the road is just a reminder to all you new business owners that things like this will happen, just be prepared to deal with them when they come.