When it comes to printing shirts, I’m like a kid in a candy store. Each season I get really excited about thinking up new designs: penguins, pandas and squirrels in the winter; ice creams, mermaids and cacti in the summer. A flurry of new ideas overtake me whenever the weather changes, and often I’m just too thrilled by the excitement of the new to look back at past seasons.
However, what this actually this means is that, now I am faced with a ridiculous number of designs, and more screens than I can actually fit into my workroom! I think it may be time to take a look at my vast portfolio and decide which designs to keep, and which to retire (or archive). I need to cut out out the excess noise and streamline my collection for shops and shows. This will also have the added benefit of making me a lot less confused. Editing is good for the soul.
In case you are interested, here is how I am planning to approach this:
- Sales reports.
The obvious place to start. Sometimes, you would surprised at which products actually do sell well. I always make assumptions about my products based on my own biases, but only looking at cold, hard data can give me a clear idea of what really is a good seller.
- Feedback at shows
Last week, I took in a handful of leftover doughnut onesies from last year to a show, and they sold out straight away! People kept asking whether I would make more. I really had no intention of printing more doughnuts at the beginning of this season, but I quickly changed my plans after that and printed a run of them this week. Doughnuts are a keeper, it seems.
- Picking and choosing from the feedback
It is wonderful when customers and friends give you suggestions, and I often solicit advice from them. However, you just can’t please everyone. Also, you have to stay sane. I used to spend an inordinate amount of time painstakingly hand sewing sprinkles onto my doughnut shirts – I’m not a very good needleworker. Recently, I found that the shirts without sprinkles sell just as well. So I saved myself the time and labor, and made unembellished doughnut shirts. Of course, there were a few comments on social media asking after the sprinkles. Also, a friend suggested that I sew sprinkles on some shirts, and leave some plain for variety. But, I know that I can only make so many shirts per season (one woman operation, folks!). Too much variety would just complicate things more for me when shops and customers ask for multiples of specific designs. Sometimes you have to say no.
- Feeling good about choices
I only print what I love. If I’m not feeling entirely happy about a design, then I won’t print it. After all, this is a creative endeavor, and not a precise science – if a design doesn’t make my heart happy, then it’s out of the portfolio. As self appointed creative director of my firm, I guess I have the right to say that. 😉
The bottom line is, you can take all the advice, consult the data, and do research about what sells well, and what is trending. But, as the owner and creative force behind a label, you reserve the right to pick and choose what to listen to, and what to ignore. You know the business best, and what it (and you) needs to survive and thrive.
I’m selling both new and old designs at the Spring/Summer fairs, so come and catch some limited edition shirts before I stop making them. And then I’m going to start making some hard decisions about what to keep in my collection. And maybe, maybe ….. I’ll add a new design to it. Gasp!