Sophomore James Manning is learning a lot about what it takes to own a clothing brand. He started his own business, Broken Club Clothing, in February 2020 as an outlet for self-expression and a way to help others who may also be struggling as he does with anxiety or other physical or mental challenges.
The business got off to a slow start, but James considers it all part of the learning process. His first product release – a line of T-shirts and hoodies featuring his Heartbreaker design of a heart with one side in blue and a jagged edge separating the other half in aqua blue – sold only 12 pieces, mostly to his friends. But he spent the last year focusing on his mistakes in order to learn from them to make sure his next clothing drop, Crying but Your Tears Are Snowflakes, will do better.
“I had to take a step back and really look at the choices I made for my project, so I could learn for my next release,” James said, which also meant he didn’t have time to focus on promoting the Heartbreaker line. “I anticipate those numbers changing, knowing what I know now. Experience is the best teacher.”
James said he learned some basic marketing skills that will help his next release, such as creating a demand for the product by doing several tease posts to build interest and excitement. He also researched his social media following to learn more about their interests in order to attract others with similar interests to his brand, @broken_club_clothing.
He also spent more time working on the design. His first clothing drop came about in a month, from design, to having a local print shop print the design on three different shirt styles, and to offering them in an online store. This time, he spent almost a year on the clothing line.
The Crying but Your Tears Are Snowflakes design was inspired during a visit to his mom last Christmas when she was in the hospital in Florida. To help him deal with his anxiety, James listened to his favorite artist, guardin, with the song “Snowflakes” on repeat. The name for his newest clothing line came from a line in the song that really resonated with him, James said.
“I really grabbed on to his lyrics in that song, particularly, ‘crying but your tears are snowflakes,’” he said.
After spending the spring reflecting on how to improve his marketing for his next clothing drop, James started designing his Snowflake idea in July 2020 and finished it in December. He is now working with a local printing shop to adhere his design to various pieces of clothing. He said he hopes this drop is more successful as he plans to implement what he learned over the last year.
James’ biggest hurdle is having enough time to devote to his business. Most of his time goes to school and homework, and his free time is dedicated to creating more designs, researching, planning, estimating costs, or marketing.
Creating and planning are important elements to a successful business, and James is devoting what time he can to both. Even though he is only on his second clothing drop, he has created about 10 other designs. Some will never go beyond his computer, but some have been sold to other small clothing brands, including Energy Never Dies and Bubblenumb by musician Jumex.
James also has hopes to expand beyond clothing such as designing jewelry and resin pieces. He would create the design and find a craftsman to bring his jewelry ideas to life while creating his own resin pieces.
I have SO much planned for the future of Broken Club. I want to do more than just clothing,” he said. “I really enjoy helping people so I hope one day, when my brand gets bigger, I will be able to donate money to charities.”
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