Howdy yall! I was supposed to be hungover in New York City today but our flights got cancelled due to #BLIZZARD2016. Hey, I'm not complaining, sunny Los Angeles completely makes up for how much New York sucks. (I <3 NY)
We never know what life (or mother nature) will throw at us. Sometimes amazing things gravitate towards us and sometimes our flights get cancelled due to uncontrollable nature. It's how you act and perceive these "oh shit" moments of pressure when you realize the shit actually hit the fan. Your actions in these situations are possibly the most important deterrent to starting your own business. First and foremost, it is essential to not freak out. Go straight to the source who will be affected and let them know of the situation. Second, go to the source that caused the delay or cancellation, in this case it was Delta Airlines. Do not procrastinate on urgent situations, it will only make the problem worse. Think smart, act quick is a motto I live by.
In Chapter 3 I mentioned how The Funky Skull was born 2 days after I realized was rejected from Nasty Gal. This was the year 2013 and I was 22 years old. Urgency and an intense desire (passion) struck and I was on fire to get this going. I torrented Photoshop (oops) and taught myself how to use it by experimenting. I've always been into collages and combining real photographs from magazines with touches of different mediums like paint, markers and oil pastels. So I did this on Photoshop (just like I did with my artwork IRL). It was time to make The Funky Skull's logo. I got a skull outline from online and traced it on Photoshop. Obviously made it a pistachio colored skull and gave it some pink juicy lips. Some darker shadowing brought that thing to life. I could have spent days and months on this thing if I wanted it to be perfect, but it wasn't perfect and that's what brought it to life (see below).
The Funky Skull logo
Some early experimentation on Photoshop.
Google was my best friend. I couldn't have started The Funky Skull with anything I learned in school. It was all online based solely on research. I found Shopify, a very user-friendly platform to host The Funky Skull on. They had cool, modern and simple themes so it was an immediate win. What was I going to carry in the store? I found some dropship brands via Google and applied to be a vendor, there was no filter with these mass producing dropshipping warehouses. If you had a tax id # (Seller's EIN) you were in. After obtaining a seller's permit online, voila! I now had products to add! I also became good friends with Photoshop, where I created my own styles and sold them on The Funky Skull.
Some of the very first marketing materials for The Funky Skull.
I had no choice but to teach myself everything from marketing, to advertising, to shipping and taxes among many other things. I had a full running store but there was one big problem. I had no idea who was on the other side of these so called "brands" that I was stocking on my storefront. Yes, they approved my "dropship account" and I added their products, but what's next?
My first storefront.
Orders started coming in for this Asian manufacturer's "brand." As they were coming in, I was placing my dropship orders with the manufacturer for them to fulfill each one. From my understanding, all my orders were being fulfilled, as I was paying for each item and filling in all the shipping information AND receiving "shipping confirmations." I knew something was off when every single one of my customers from that manufacturer (which was 90% of my sales) emailed me asking when their order was going to arrive. Keep in mind some of the orders were marked "delivered" on my seller's dashboard. It was a complete nightmare. I couldn't sleep at night and when I did I would see those emails from my customers in my dreams. It's the most difficult thing as a business owner to finally get some traction with customers, then watch it crumble with every single refund I gave back. I tried to contact this manufacturer every single day and night. In between classes, on my drive from OC to LA, on my way to class. Nothing. I had spent over $900 on orders with the manufacturer, and nothing was ever fulfilled, or probably even looked at - it was all one big scam. I basically lost that money because I had to refund all my customers AND didn't receive a refund from the manufacturer. It was only the smart decision at this point to close my Funky Skull storefront as I had to figure out a way to get out of this $1k credit card debt.
This is how I fu$@ked up with The Funky Skull. I moved too quickly (here's where my personality of rushing is considered a weakness), and naively trusted unreliable resources that popped up on Google. Building the foundation to your business means going through all the essential steps, hours of research and building relationships rather than just going after the quick and dirty method. Now, with Onyx Creative I personally email every single designer myself because the most essential thing is learning about who I'm going to potentially be working with. Never will I ever search for a "women's dropship brand" on Google again and chose the first one that comes up. If it was that easy, everyone would be doing it. My mistakes from The Funky Skull allowed me to build an extremely sturdy foundation for Onyx Creative. From Brand Dropshipping Guides that highlight all aspects of our relationship to shipping methods and of course learning new things on the way. I'm not saying Onyx Creative is currently perfect, but there is a clear understanding between me and the designers. We still make mistakes, and continue to do so because that's how we grow! Don't be afraid to make mistakes. Next week I talk about another detour and my time in public relations bleehhhhh.
I would love to hear from artists who are also on this journey with me! Feel free to personally email me firstname.lastname@example.org or reach out on Social Media.
Facebook: Angela Afifi