Hopefully after you read this posting, you will find yourself checking out the Sleepy Dan link below. I was asked by the Hide Your Arms team to create a column from the perspective of an up-and-coming indie clothing brand. My expectation of this column is to share the behind the scenes of a designer creating seasonal lines of clothing and apparel. Working in the Dallas area as a graphic and apparel designer, I’ve gained great experience as a branding designer since graduating from Ringling College of Art & Design – Yes, I went to clown school… But no, Sleepy Dan is not clowning around!
Recently the Sleepy Dan signature line was released and already finding many fans that share common bonds with a lack of sleep. Being close to the beginning, I want to share the production journey from the start and help anyone looking for some guidance on their search for a successful project. Success of your project can be broken down into two parts. Making a product that is popular and able to sell for profit, then having fun with the project so you can consistently repeat the process while adding your creativity. I don’t believe success is measured in financial wealth, rather happiness of life while pursuing what you love. So stay sleepy, there is no time to rest because if “You Snooze, You Lose!”
Starting out means you have minimal money to invest in the project and tons of time to perfect the first line. Around two years ago I decided to learn how to screen print from home so I could cut my overhead. I purchased some screen printing supplies and hardware from craigslist.org, aselart.com and gogsg.com then researched how to complete the process. After a couple months of working out the process, I was able to successfully print 40 shirts in a night, then hand out to new fans at events like Kixpo and Sneaker Summit.
The purpose was to get some recognition and feedback for the branding direction with only the cost of the shirt, the ink, and my time invested. Taking your time to perfect everything from the trademarking to the clothing and the social media is most important. This is not a race… Get out to local clothing events and make friends with everyone in your city. Knowing the market you are looking to enter is just as important as making product for it. Make sure you understand the quality of product everyone else uses, so you are not considered out of bounds… Invest in a bunch of indie brand shirts you think are cool and represent some other brands. They will be your best allies down the road! You gotta give props to the city you love…
The finesse of screen printing is just as much an art form as the designs you are printing. Starting from making films, then burning the film image into the emulsified screen for printing, then working the squeegee over the ink filled screen, the process is not complete until a high temperature is used to bind the ink to the apparel threads. Using water based inks is less harmful at home, especially during cleanup. Sorry I can’t share pics of our spare bathroom tub, cleanup has turned it into a scene straight out of Scarface…
Becoming a recognized brand means being thorough and original with all the smallest details. Coming up with new ways to market your brand is your last step after you have a product ready to distribute. Have fun with the process from start to finish and you will be the wealthiest person you know! Creating more complex designs means you will need help from a local printer, or embroider, or seamstress. They are not difficult to find and work with, but it helps to be confident and understand the process they work with. The Sleepy Dan column will be sharing more of the apparel and accessories production from the line with you along the way, so stay posted! Contact me if you have any questions about your process, help is universal so don’t overlook it.
Thanks to Andrew for letting me become part of the Hide Your Arms team and one of the new featured columns!