Tell us something about yourself. What is your niche? How did you get your idea or concept for the business?
I have a love affair with Austin. I attended the University of Texas in the ’90s. I’ve lived here for almost 30 years, with a brief stop in Houston. Austin, like most cities, has evolved over the years. I remember a buddy and I were discussing old venues that had come and gone. We missed ‘old’ Austin. Even venues before our time. And that’s where I got the idea for a site to pay tribute to the venues which made Austin iconic.
What are your responsibilities as a business owner?
I am responsible for the concepts, designs, shirt selection, vendors, social media, messaging, and everything necessary to run the business. I, of course, hired the best CMO on the planet: my wife. And by hired, I mean she gets unlimited free shirts. She has been extremely supportive and instrumental in my marketing efforts.
What are your best selling products, what type of materials are used in your creations, how do you design your products, what makes your products stand out?
There are countless venues I have enjoyed while living in Austin. Unfortunately quite a few are no longer in business. Whether they were bars, shops, restaurants, or concepts, it’s all about honoring Austin’s past. People are always receptive to venues of years’ past. Whenever I wear a shirt, people always approach me with a smile and ask, “where did you get that?” And we always, always end up talking about when they last visited that venue. It’s always a positive experience. And providing quality, tri-blend shirts always helps.
What do you enjoy most about being an entrepreneur? What’s the hardest about it?
I love being able to have an idea and see it come to fruition. This has been a long process. I came up with the idea over 2 years ago and I just recently launched. It’s been a process: evolving from idea to identifying vendors (shirts, shipping bags, business cards, stickers), selecting shirt quality, selecting shirt quantity, establishing an LLC, opening a commercial bank account, buying products which will assist with your business…it’s definitely a process. As long as I stay focused, I have no doubt this will be a success.
Who do you sell to (and how do you get customers)? What marketing tools or strategies you use to boost your sales? Are you satisfied with the results?
I sell to anyone who has a love for Austin. If you live in Austin, have visited Austin, or can identify Austin on a map, then these are the shirts for you. I use paid media ads (Facebook ads, Etsy ads, Instagram) and word of mouth. I am extremely fortunate to have supportive friends and family. The results are definitely trajecting in the right direction.
Do you believe there is a winning formula for becoming a successful entrepreneur? What is yours?
Execution. There are plenty of people who have great ideas and don’t take the steps/risks necessary for success. There is no guarantee of success, but there is a 100% guarantee of failure: failing to take a risk. Those willing to take chances, absorb the criticism, and persevere will always succeed.
What was the toughest moment you have experienced in your business practice? How did you succeed to get over it and move forward?
Having a full-time job and a side project simultaneously is certainly a challenge. I have to be disciplined in my approach to my side project while at the same time realizing I need to focus on my job during work hours.
What inspires you when you’re creating? How do you get ideas for new products? What are some methods or tools you use to get creative?
I have a list of various venues that have come and gone in Austin. And I have been to about 90% of them personally. It’s about remembering my experiences at these venues and sharing. I’m a member of various groups who remember what Austin once was.
Do you ship your product internationally? How do you handle postage pricing? What is the average time it takes from the order to the delivery? Do you use free shipping? If so, why? How do you package your products?
I do offer to ship my apparel internationally but haven’t shipped…yet. I provide the shipping prices recommended by Etsy. The average time from order to delivery is 24 hrs. I package my products in 100% recyclable plastic bags with a beautiful Austin Retro Apparel logo.
What would you say are the key elements for starting and running a successful online business?
Perseverance, executions, and patience. I don’t know how many times I heard, “that’s a great idea!” prior to launch. It took me 2 years to go from idea to launch. I would wear my shirts without having a domain, business cards, or a means to purchase. I would have people ask me where I got my shirt and I would have to awkwardly ask them for the email address and pray they trust me enough to Venmo me money while I shipped their shirts.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting out?
Someone asked me the other day if I would ever consider consulting on building pools. I have a pool, but I’m not an expert on pools. My point being is this: if you are an expert in a field and have a passion, there is no reason why you shouldn’t pursue that dream. I have lived in Austin for almost 30 years. I know Austin. I have t-shirts from almost every trip I’ve taken. I notice random t-shirts while walking down the street. I take notes on my phone on different logos/messaging. I can identify the fabric of a t-shirt you’re wearing. Weird? Absolutely. But if you have an idea, do something about it! What are you waiting for?
How do you personally define business success? Is it money? Freedom? Influence? Creative expression and innovation? Something else?
I would love to retire from my full-time job and do turn my side project into my full-time job. That means I need to make enough money to match what I’m currently making. I’m not quite there…yet. And to be your own boss, well that’s the dream.
Describe your day-to-day operation. How do you manage your time?
I do have a full-time job from 8:00 AM – 5:30 PM during the weekdays. Which leaves me after hours and weekends to focus on my side project. I do update my social media and messaging at every free moment I have. When I receive an Etsy notification, I ensure to ship within 24 hrs. I have made countless sacrifices to ensure this business is a success.
How do you plan on growing your business? What is the biggest impact on your profitability?
I have a laundry list of ideas. The only thing holding me back is me. I need to allocate more time to what I’m looking to accomplish. Moving forward, I will be offering hats and koozies. And eventually, I will have my own website.
What are some things you did to set your shop for success on Etsy? What is one lesson you learned the hard way?
The Etsy ads have been instrumental in driving traffic to my site. Etsy provides great analytics, trends, and results in what is/isn’t working. The fees do add up, though. I completely understand the audience provided by Etsy, but those fees…