Tell me about yourself and what got you into the apparel business.
I have always been a dreamer. However, I went to college to pursue a degree in education. I have my Master's in Early Childhood Education from The Ohio State University and taught kindergarten, first and second grade for eleven years. While teaching, I always worked several jobs such as serving or exploring entrepreneurship with mini start-ups. One summer I even started a cleaning service! Although I loved my job in education, I always wanted something more. Last year, I decided to take the leap. My husband is very supportive and told me to go for it.
Although I always visioned myself in apparel, I started with matte nail polish. My boys always wanted to join in with my daughter and I as we painted our nails. I thought, "Boys can do anything girls can do and vice versa." I wanted my brand to be about confidence. I gained a lot of attention and interest based on this unique idea. As football season approached, I knew it was time to launch my first shirt, ALL WE DO IS WIN. It quickly became a hot seller. I knew I was on to something and haven't looked back.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
I'm inspired by EVERYTHING! My children, leaders, music, nature, trends. daily activities, and feelings all give me motive to make something. I have thousands of ideas, but I have to reign myself in and go day by day.
How do you try to differentiate yourself from the competition?
I want my brand to be built on confidence and positivity, so I try to make things that people feel good wearing. I want people to rep their team, feelings and or trend in a good way. I won't make things that dis another team, player or have a negative connotation. In addition, I try to provide excellent customer service. I like to go above and beyond to make sure the buyer knows his or her business was appreciated and valued. Oftentimes, I throw in extras such as a nail polish or a free shirt. I always include a handwritten note to express my gratitude. My return customer rate is very high.
Do you have any advice for people trying to get into the maker/designer business?
Get ready to grind. There are hundreds of people doing the same thing that you are about to do. If you want to make it, you have to put in 110%. I tried to do this part-time and did not see adequate results. You will LIVE, BREATHE and DREAM your business. Owning a business is all day, every day. If you want to make a little extra money here and there, you're better off finding a part-time job.
What are you looking forward to when it comes to the future of your business?
I am so excited to launch more designs. I love to design and see my vision come to life. However, I look forward to reaching more people. My heart literally drops when I see a stranger wearing something that I made. It's the best compliment. I visualize sitting in the stands and seeing a sea of ALL WE DO IS WIN shirts around me. It will happen, and that will be the day I know TRU is a success.
Learn more about Tru Man Brand at http://www.trumanbrands.com/