Who are you?
Deli Fresh Threads is a clothing brand inspired by the Sandwich! My T-shirts are themed and designed around the King of Meals….sandwiches. If you love sandwiches (and who doesn’t) I am sure you will find a shirt at my virtual deli menu!
Why Did you start your business?
I am a one man Deli Shop. I have a a full time day job and I’m also married and a Dad to my 5-yr old daughter.
In college I got into t-shirts because no one was making merchandise for my college that I wanted to wear. I went to UCF (University of Central Florida) and I had a shirt idea. I partnered with two friends and we started KnightMare Apparel. It was rewarding having a creative outlet doing something I loved. Coming up with designs and seeing people wear my ideas was a huge compliment. Unfortunately, the online college brand could not compete with the larger companies and we closed.
I waited a long time and life kept moving, marriage, kids, etc. but I’ve always had this desire to start something again. I finally figured I’d “sandwich” my two loves to create a brand that pays homage to the sandwich- the King of Meals. The sandwich is now over 250 years old and is consumed by millions. So why not show it the love that it deserves.
I noticed that the food culture was growing and “foodies” were watching cooking and food related programming. With all the indie brands out there I did not see any of them focusing on the sandwich.
Currently I run Deli Fresh Threads as a side project with the hopes of creating a brand that I can devote my full time efforts to.
What makes your business unique?
My business is different because with all the different indie brands out in the market- none are focused on the sandwich.
I started hosting a monthly meet up at different sandwich restaurants around Orlando, FL. I call it #SandwichEatUp and I go to local or non chain sandwich shops and eat with other sandwich lovers. I think it’s a great way to promote small business and also a great way for people to meet me and we can hang out and enjoy a good sandwich. As great as it is to interact with someone online; there is great benefit in meeting people offline and sharing a sandwich with them.
What's the biggest mistake you've made with your business and what did you learn from it??
I’ve made some big mistakes so far with my business- one of them is not starting my brand sooner. I waited for everything to be perfect and perfect never comes. if you have the ideas to start something- start working towards that goal. If you don’t have the money to start it- it doesn’t mean you can’t brainstorm and research things and do all the necessary legwork that is needed.
Another mistake was I made a kids shirt. I should have waited till I established myself more. I still love the design and the shirt but it just did not sell even close to as well as it should have. I will be waiting a while before making any other kids shirts.
what big goal do you have for your company and how do you plan to achieve it?
I have set short term and long term goals for Deli Fresh Threads. Sometimes looking at long lists can be bit overwhelming. I divide my goals into bite size obtainable ones. This way it help keep me on track.
I write down all my goals and I work towards them. My list holds me accountable. I mix my goals up between realistic, easy, difficult as well the impossible dream goals. At the same time I track my accomplishments along with those goals, so that when I do experience failure I am able to see the big picture of what I have achieved.
Right now one of my short term goals consists of blogging every week. Something not hard to do but it takes time and dedication.
My number one short term goal is to continue increasing my brand recognition through my local community. I have to get out more into the community to sell my shirts. I have begun to establish an online presence, however I have yet to establish any selling power in my community. I plan to begin selling at farmers markets and other food related events.
Another short term goal I have had since i opened up shop was to add new merchandise every quarter. Doing this allows me to gradually grow and not overextend myself. It also allows me to have something new coming out every few months. By doing this quarterly release of designs, it helps me to build on being able to do full releases, a long term goal.
Long term goals-I want to make DeliFreshThreads my full time job. I would love to turn Deli Fresh Threads into a fashion food truck. It would allow me to have an economical “store front’. You come up to my window and order a Cheesesteak. Instead of an actual cheesesteak sandwich, I’d hand you a packed lunch http://delifreshthreads.bigcartel.com/product/cheesesteak .
I want to reach a position where I can afford to be able to run the business. Only way to do that is to keep building off of my short term goals.
what advice or tips do you have for people wanting to start their own business or follow their dreams?
I am always researching and gathering information, looking to learn and improve and what’s ahead. You can always learn from someone.
Some other tips I would give are:
Patience-We live in a world that seeks instant gratification. When you start a business it’s like screaming into the black hole. "HELLO I’M HERE AND I’M OPEN FOR BUSINESS!" So don’t think once you open up shop that you are going to start selling. It takes time to build a following. There are thousands of people all with the same idea of creating and starting their own business. It’s not easy. Pace yourself and know that this is a marathon not a 40 yard dash. If you plan right and are patient – it will grow. Keep at it. Don’t give up. Keep posting relevant posts on your website and sharing. In whatever industry you decide to get into, success is not immediate. Times will be tough and there will be moments where you doubt yourself and think to yourself – “What am I doing?” If you believe in your business - DON'T QUIT". Keep working and networking and find new people to introduce yourself to and new mediums to do it in.
For me- I felt that I can only make one good first impression since there are other food inspired clothing brands. I had an idea of what I wanted before I could open up shop. I had started almost a year before my brand opened its webstore doors using social media to start interacting with people.
I knew that creating a clothing brand or any type of business it is not a get rich quick. After a year in business I still ask myself sometimes- am I doing this right? But I know that Rome was not built in a day and to build the type of community I want to create it will not happen overnight. It has to grow and flourish. So patience is required.
Find your niche or passion & brand it!- What is it that you love? Show people that love and passion. Show them what you are focused on. I love Sandwiches. I wanted to show people that I love and celebrate the #KingOfMeals. I started writing, tweeting, and sharing anything cool I found that was sandwich related with others before I even sold a shirt. Why? Because I wanted people to see that I had a true passion. It is such a great feeling when people tell me when they see a sandwich, they think of me and Deli Fresh Threads.
Try to make your brand more focused- what is your business really about? Is it something your passionate about and can write about or is it just a trendy concept? Take the time and the patience to figure that out. I know you can be excited to start something. Just do it right.
From the beginning I thought about everything about from packaging, tweets, Instagram, blog posts, etc and how it all ties back to my brand and my niche.
Stay humble and always keep evolving- When you start out, you may have a vision of what you want your brand to be. But when you actually start to execute your vision, you realize that you can’t possibly afford it all on your budget at this time. It’s ok to start small and work towards that vision and take the right steps. Don’t overdo it where you do not put yourself in a successful position. When I started I had to scale back some of my ideas and not over extend my budget. I wanted to launch with more products and I quickly realized it was more expensive than I had thought. I decided it would be wise to do smaller releases more often and spreading it out than to do just one big one.
I am always looking at better ways to do things from the logistics of packing and shipping orders; social media/blogging; to where I want my business to become and be. I have no problem asking other brands how they do certain things. The same goes with me not having a problem helping others. You have to work hard and always be willing to grow and learn from others in order to keep climbing to your goal.
Build a network- There are so many people out there- meet them and interact with them. It’s amazing what you can learn from others. When I started, I reached out to various brands I admired and asked them for tips and suggestions on starting a brand. I also make it a point to interact with others that are part of my target market. WORD OF MOUTH is the greatest advertisement. I want people to meet me and know me. Once they see me they also see the passion I have for my brand and for sandwiches. Those people may not buy my product, but they will tell others about it. So go out and meet new people, online and offline.
On a side note- Do not SPAM and tell others all the time- “hey tell others about my brand or buy my stuff”. You have to give, give, give, and then ask. You have to build that trust and that network then when you ask people are willing to share and help.