Winter Lotus Brand Interview
We have a new interview from the new street wear brand Winter Lotus. This is a great interview for new people that are thinking of starting a brand and have questions on how to get started. Enjoy!
1. First and foremost please introduce yourself?
What up, I’m Will, the owner of Winter Lotus, a brand that I started in July of 2014. Shoutout to Andy for featuring me on the site – appreciate the opportunity.
2. What exactly is Winter Lotus and what made you start it?
Well, this is a bit of a long story, so I’m going to have to give a somewhat condensed version.
I left my corporate nine-to-five job in September of 2013 to start an Instagram marketing agency. That failed, as we got two clients in three months of work. Not only that, but we couldn’t even provide value to those two clients.
After that, I started another business that taught dating and seduction through a series of videos. It got some traction. Tons of traffic was pouring into the site, but no one was buying. We figured our product wasn’t necessarily something people wanted to pay for.
At that point, I was putting in 80-hour work weeks, and was living off of my savings. The reality was that I only had a few months before my savings were completely gone.
So I decided to start over again. Streetwear was an area where I had interest and where I could start selling product right away (so I wouldn’t be homeless). Winter Lotus was born and we sold five shirts in the first day.
3. Where do you work the hardest as a brand owner online or offline?
A pro of being a brand owner is that you’ll never run out of things to do.
A con of being a brand owner is that you’ll never run out of things to do.
At this point, it’s more about prioritizing. There’s X, Y, and Z to do, but which of the three is the most critical for my business, short-term and long-term?
I focus a lot on our online presence. Social media is huge, and it’s something that I put time into every day. Email is huge. Web optimization is huge. Paid ads is huge. Improvement never ends, so I’m constantly testing.
4. Do you prefer to market the brand more offline in your local area or online through social media and blogs?
Online, for sure. Admittedly, I haven’t put in the hours to market the brand offline, and it’s something that I’ll spend time on in 2015.
So far, online marketing has been the source of almost all my sales.
Everyone says this, and it’s stupid cliché, but social media has unlimited potential. A single Instagram photo can be seen by millions. A single tweet can be read by millions. In today’s world, social media is a part of everyday life, and as a brand, you absolutely need to stay on top of people’s minds.
We’re reaching out to bloggers too, but social media is our number one priority. We’re living in the ADHD generation. Instagram and now Snapchat provide short bits of digestible content (you don’t even have to read anything) and that’s where everyone is migrating to.
5. What were some of the tough challenges that you faced coming up and how did you overcome them?
We had a falling out with our first screen printer because he misprinted a tank top. He didn’t take responsibility and made excuses to cover his ass. We asked for a full refund, and he offered half, claiming he only screwed up on half of the tanks. It was a shitty situation because we paid 50% of the total amount for those tanks (they weren’t cheap), and was only comfortable selling a third of them.
At the same time, we dropped off two hat designs for embroidery. We planned to release the hats and the tank within a week, week and a half. We didn’t hear from the manufacturer for two weeks, so our launch was delayed. After emailing, calling, and texting our contact, there was no response.
Basically, the feeling was that we got scammed. Eventually, we did get our hats, but it took a lot of ‘mischief’ on our part. The longer story, if you’re interested, can be found here: http://blog.winterlotus.com/
But yeah, it was a stressful time. The lesson we learned is to always be ahead of schedule, and to account for issues in production.
6. What is/was your favorite Winter Lotus design?
Gotta be the 1866 long sleeve tee.
7. What are your plans for Winter Lotus in 2015?
Definitely more custom fabrics and cut-and-sew. So far we’ve just been screen-printing on blanks.
Lately, I’ve reached out to local manufacturers to learn about what it takes to create custom clothing. I don’t have a fashion background, but I’ve connected with some amazing people who are willing to help guide me through the process.
8. What advice do you have for anyone starting a brand?
Create a mockup, and presell if possible. Offer a presell discount. So if you’re planning on selling your product for $30, hit up your friends and offer them the chance to buy it for $20. If you have money in the bank before you even start production, you’re doing it right.
But if you’re against preselling, release one or two designs with limited quantities. The single biggest mistake is investing too much capital in your first collection only to have it collect dust on your shelves. Trust me, you never know what will sell, especially when you first start out.
I’ve also written an article on this on my blog. If you’re interested, it’s here: http://blog.winterlotus.com/
9. What are some of the brands that have influenced you?
The simple, black and white aesthetic of Stampd.
The Asian influences of Ronin.
The longevity of Stussy, Supreme, 10 Deep.
Most importantly, the customer service of Zappos.
10. What are the most important lessons you’ve learned while running Winter Lotus?
This is a lesson not necessarily from Winter Lotus, but from my experiences running startups.
NEVER GIVE UP.
You’re guaranteed to fail on some level. But you can learn from your failures.
You’re absolutely going to run into obstacles. But you can overcome them and race out in front of your competitors.
You’re 100% going to hear criticism. But you can take the criticism and use it to improve.
Those who have the stubbornness of a mule and march on when others have given up are those who will come out on top.
11. Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
Yep, again want to thank Andy for the opportunity to be on The Far Collective.
If you wanna reach out, let’s connect on Instagram (@winterlotusla). Alternatively, shoot me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Owner of Bluu Dreams Clothing, freelance graphic designer, and fashion connoisseur.