Tell us something about yourself. What is your niche? Why did you start your business?
Hey! It’s Cranky Girl here! I am the owner of Cranky Girl Tie Dye. I started this business when I was wondering what the next step in life I should take should be. One of my friends piped up and wanted to have a tie-dyeing session for my birthday. I thought to myself “Cool, let’s do this hippie thing and have some cool shirts.” I immediately fell in love with it! I would not have guessed in my wildest dreams that it would evolve to this level! Each year I have been in this business, it has posed more and more challenges but each one of those challenges has been overcome and Cranky Girl Tie Dye has developed into what you see today! ‘I’ has turned into ‘us’. Slowly, we have built a team and continue to reach the goals we have set for ourselves – To use our artwork to bring a bit of positivity to the world one item at a time!
What type of products do you sell? How does your manufacturing process look like?
We sell all types of items that are hand-dyed tie-dye! Short sleeve tees, long-sleeve tees, hoodies, tank tops, baby clothes, bandanas, just to name a few of our most popular items. We are constantly testing new items to see where we can expand and what we can add. Our manufacturing process is a bit on the more difficult side since we are a handmade item. To summarize it, it involves taking blank products, folding them up, prepping them for dyeing, the actual tie dyeing portion, the setting period (which is usually overnight), the washing process, the quality checking process, and the shipping portion. We usually need 2-5 days to complete this process. This allows us to redo ones that do not come out quite so hot and to always produce our best work! Since this is entirely hand-dyed and not machine printed, each one comes out with slight variations. Tie-Dye itself stands out but even in a group of tie-dye shirts while they may still look similar and part of the group you will still be unique. The best example is snowflakes. Each one looks like part of snow but if you look closer, each one has its own details. It’s the same concept here. If you have never tie-dyed before, please! Try it out sometime! You (most likely) won’t regret it!
What are some challenging aspects of your business? How did you overcome them?
Besides everything that has happened this year 2020? I think one of the most challenging parts was figuring out a business name. I had decided I wanted to take my artwork to the next level and create a business but I had such a horrible time figuring out a business name. I had stressed and stressed about it for around 6 months. At that point, I was doing fairs and it was in the hottest part of the summer. I think you can see where I am going with this. I was at a particularly hot outdoor fair. I was sweaty and hot which are not my favorite things. My dad had gone with me and was guiding me through tips on selling, etc. I had been using him as a sounding board for name ideas and when I couldn’t think of something I would, some would call it to whine…not me though, that I couldn’t figure out a business name. After the billionth time, my dad throws his hands up in the air and says “Cranky Girl! Call it Cranky Girl Tie Dye!”. Of course, my immediate response was “I’m not Cranky!” There was a brief pause, and then all of the vendors around us and we included began laughing, their moods immediately improving. I thought to myself, ‘During this hottest of hot days where everyone was miserable something so simple as this brought laughter and cheer. If this can do it for these people how many other people could it give off such an effect?’ Thus Cranky Girl Tie Dye became my business name. The moral of the story is do not stress. Everything will happen when the time is right. This is a lesson I have used in all of the other areas of business that have posed challenges to me and I hope it’s something you will be able to use in everyday life as well!
What do you enjoy most about being an entrepreneur? What’s the hardest about it?
The thing I definitely enjoy most is being able to create artwork! You might think ‘How is staining clothing any fun?’ Well, I was once like that, too, and I can’t honestly physically explain it to you. It’s something about being able to use dyes and folds to create new outcomes. It’s satisfying! If you have never tie-dyed definitely try it once! As for the hardest part? It’s definitely the cleanup…haha!
What are some beginner mistakes you made? What advice or words of inspiration would you like to share?
I’d like to say I didn’t make any mistakes. That I was perfect and everything has been a smooth ride…I’d be 100% lying and, well, I’m not a liar so here is the truth! 1) You will mess up when speaking to customers. It’s okay. Take a deep breath and try again. 2) You will flip flop packages. I don’t understand how it happens but it does. Take a deep breath and make it right. 3) You will get frustrated and wonder if this is something worth continuing. Take a deep breath and push on. You will regret letting this opportunity go just because of a few bumps. 4) If any of the last three taught you anything it would be there will be problems. Things do happen that are out of your control. You are human. Do your best to correct the issue and make it right? You will want to get sad, angry, etc. however in business, there is no time for that. Fix your mistake. The number 1 thing I see other sellers do is to take it out on the customer. There are times when customers are in the wrong but there are times you will be in the wrong as well. Do your best. That’s all anyone can expect.
What inspires you while designing and/or creating new products.
I may have started this business on what some may consider a brief notion but I design and create new products knowing that each step I take may add some positivity back into the world and that’s exactly what we all need. That knowledge and the knowledge that the outcome is unknown until it’s completed is like opening a surprise! Keep the fun in business. If you lose that it becomes work. Then after a while, you may use your drive. To find your happiness!
How did you get the background and skills necessary to run this type of business?
I grew up in a household that was filled with crafters and Christianity. Before tie-dye dropped into my life, I had been praying and praying that I would figure out the next step I needed to take. That I could add something positive to this world. It took about 4 years before my prayers were answered but I never ceased! I always believed I would be answered and right before I absolutely needed to figure out that next step it was dropped into my lap! Shoved at me from out of nowhere. From there, I took my knowledge of tie-dye and had begun some hardcore research. I remember in the very beginning spending about 90 hours just doing research on dyeing techniques alone. One could call it obsessed but another could call it a drive to succeed. As for the customer side, “Treat others how you would want to be treated!” has been my motto. We have all had a bad day. We have all been grumpy. We have all taken it out on others even if we don’t realize it. Realizing this, and realizing the people I talk to on the customer side may be having a bad day I have a system to where I remind myself that I don’t know their circumstances. If I am going to bring positivity into the world I need to start by being positive myself. Ask them how they are. Ask them if everything is all right. Ask them if they need any help. Always do your best to resolve issues you or your team have created. Do not lash out at them even if they are in the wrong. Talk to them. They are human, too, and maybe having a bad day. Of course, there are exceptions and there are people with who you will still struggle. Pray for them but don’t let whatever they say affect you. One other thing I have adapted is to learn as you go. There is SO much to learn that it can become overwhelming. Relax. Get all of your Federal, State, City, and County forms out of the way. Learn sales tax and how to remit it. Research new ways to adapt your business. It is 100% possible to start up your business without any college degrees however remember, everything they teach for the degree you will have to teach yourself. However, you will get a hands-on approach. This is the exact way that this Cranky Girl has learned each aspect so far about this business.
What are some of the most effective ways in terms of marketing products to your customers?
One of the most effective ways I have found has been topics I have touched on in my previous answers. Remember that just because you are on the selling side and the customer is on the buying side it does NOT mean both parties are not human. They are. You are. We all are! With this in mind, try to appeal to their emotional needs and their physical wants. For example, you have shoppers that want to be left alone when shopping. Then you have shoppers who want assistance. In-person, you can see physical cues that will tell you what the shoppers want. A shopper turned away from you or walking away from you means that they aren’t interested in help. A shopper looking around and making eye contact with you usually means they are looking for assistance. Online it’s slightly different. Look for social cues that the social online users make. Remember, if 1 person asks, there are usually 10 who didn’t ask but still wanted to know. Make things user friendly as well. We are getting into an age where we have people who don’t know how to use a computer and people who have been coding since they were 5. Some are great at social media! Some are great with emails! Some are great with games that have ads. All are perfect ways to use to get someone’s attention.
What would you say are the key elements for starting and running a successful online business?
1) Remember that everyone is human 2) You will make mistakes but that’s okay. Pick yourself up and fix them. 3) Do not give up when you hit bumps in the road. Push on. 4) Do something you love. If there is no passion you will have a hard time. 5) It’s okay to re-plan and regroup. You do what your business needs so you can go in the direction you want to go.
How do you personally define business success? Is it money? Freedom? Influence? Creative expression and innovation? Something else?
There are several ways I would define business success! The major two would be are my customers satisfied and is my overall goal being met? When you start up your business think of a goal. It can change later on but it’ll help you to see a goal. My goal is to add positivity to the world and expand to reach more people. By keeping my customers satisfied, by being able to make my business my sole income, by being able to keep adding and creating new things I know both of my goals are being met. What is your goal you have set for yourself? Make sure it’s realistic but not a goal that will eventually make you lose interest!
Describe your day-to-day operation. How do you manage your time?
Cranky Girl Tie Dye has expanded to add a few team members but it used to be a one-person operation! Each day I would fold up orders, prep for tie-dyeing, tie-dye, let them sit overnight, the next day I would wash, dry, and check the items. The good ones shipped and the ones not so hot got set aside to be sold as an already made dye. Then I’d start in on folding orders again and continue the process. Now it’s pretty much the same set up however each team member has a station and it has made life so much easier! My advice for managing your time? Do things that will make your life easier. Do prep work when you have extra time. Do NOT wait until the last minute! When you wait until the last minute you will rush and make mistakes.
How do you plan on growing your business? What is the biggest impact on your profitability?
There are many ways Cranky Girl Tie Dye plans on growing but for now, with the state of the world, Cranky Girl Tie Dye will just keep adding new designs and new products. We have also recently started up our own Website and will be continuing to work on it! Feel free to check it out! As for the biggest impact on profitability in regards to a growing business, it will always be the addition of inventory! Budgeting for the expansion is going to be the biggest impact because now you need to take what you deemed as profits and take a portion more from it. Remember, to spend money you have to make money! Think of it as an investment and play it smart! We want to add positivity to the world but we can’t do this if we don’t plan properly!
Anything you wish to add, feel free to do so here. We value your opinion
If you take away anything from this please let it be that you have decided to do something you love and have a good goal in mind. One that is not selfish and that will one day make you walk away from the business. Remember also, that though the customer may not be always right they are human, you are human, so treat everyone like a human. Do not add negativity in the world that is not necessary. Be the change. Be positive. Be how you want to be treated. Do your best. That’s all anyone can expect.