How not to start a clothing company #1

Updated: Nov 10, 2020

Hey, so Reap is about more than just selling one off amazing limited beautifully designed clothing I thought I’d give you an insight into what goes on behind closed doors. So let’s start at the start. How did we get started?

I’ve always known that there was a slightly better way to work other than just getting out of bed going to your office dealing with shit you don’t care about and then going home. That life (although I am in it and do have a full time job) does not appeal to me and I’ve always tried to look beyond that option and see what’s what. For a long time I was a musician, ran an events company, I even managed a tattoo shop for a couple of years. All great fun jobs.

I’ve always had a creative outlet and loved the idea of designing clothes, I’ve seen clothing brands rise and fall with trends over the years all the while I dreamt of owning one yet never actually put any effort in. The more I focussed on my goals and myself the more I realised I could have a go at this. After some heavy meditations and idea developments I came up with Reap. The name goes against the grain of traditional Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, which fits me perfect. I am not your average Joe. Where did the upside down triangle come from? The triangle is a key shape in BJJ, not just because of the submission, it’s everywhere if you look hard enough it’s also in a tonne of logos including the Gracie Barra logo.

Let’s keep this simple, I respect the Gracie family, I do not respect the way Gracie Barra run their gyms (a.k.a. pyramid schemes) so by flipping the triangle on it’s head I am countering the traditions while still paying homage. Once you have a symbol and a name you’re basically good to go.

I had those ideas maybe a year ago and I was super hesitant to pull the trigger. I just presumed that nobody would give a fuck. I’m just a lucky jiu-jitsu practitioner from the North of England. I say lucky because I’ve had the pleasure of being part of the Polaris Professional Jiu Jitsu media team for a number of years, so I got to see behind the scenes of how some of the best brands, athletes and media creators in the jiu jitsu world operate. I had this as my advantage, but I was too afraid to act on it.

Fast forward a year or so, we’re in lockdown and the extra time on my hands combined with a need to create but being stuck inside led me to having another crack at Reap. I was mulling these thoughts over when BAM I get targeted by and Ad for a company called Mercht.

In short, Mercht do all the hard work for you if you want to design clothing. You do the design, upload it to their site and they take pre-orders for a number of days, with a target number of garments, if you hit that target you go to print. No set up costs at all, just the designs required. It looked too good to be true.

One of the things that put me off setting up a clothing company before was the sheer wastage that comes with ordering garments before selling them, you are always going to end up with too many that inevitably go on sale to the point where you barely recoup your costs. So I went for pre-orders to minimise wastage but also create limited edition garments that once they are printed will never be printed again, to incentivise the sale. It felt totally insane doing it in a world full of instant deliveries from amazon, but it also felt nice to go against the grain and see if people would still wait for quality gear.

So I did it, I dropped T-shirt number one, which some of you now own. I love the design and the fit. Only, it took a while to get them to you. Initially Mercht had nothing on their website about delays due to Covid-19. SO I took their word for it with the two-week turn around. I got an email confirming that the T shirts were going to print and that was it. I carried on pumping out the social media and teasing the next release when a little too much time went by.

Now, I went with Mercht because they were co-owned by Awesome Merchandise, who I’ve used hundreds of times in the past and they have amazing customer service, but I got nothing from Mercht. Now, I know there were bigger things to worry about, but people figured out how to work from home a little bit during Covid. It’s not that they couldn’t print the T-shirts within the timescales, it’s that I began emailing them and I was getting no response from them and I started to get messages from people (nice messages, I must add, mainly just people being curious) asking if I had any updates. I had none. I felt like a chump. I had no answers for these people because I was held to ransom by a company who I was getting radio silence from.

What I did gain from this strange period was a little bit of confidence that people liked the branding. This was huge, I didn’t expect anyone to order anything, but they did! So, I took things into my own hands, set up a website, designed the next batch of T-shirts and bought some promotional material.

After what felt like months (I think it was an entire month) I finally got word back from Mercht, with an apology and assurance that my T-shirts had been printed and were being posted out. Thankkkkkkk Fuck. They arrived, they look amazing and I was able to release pre-orders for item #2 (which are currently being printed, and should be with us soon!)

So, that’s how not to launch a clothing company, for now. We’ll see. Part two coming the next time I make a ridiculous mistake. Join the cult of jiu-jitsu. Next garments dropping in a couple of weeks, all love.

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