Duke & Winston started out as a single idea early 2009 to design a t-shirt with my bulldog, Duke's face on it. I had no fashion background and was working at a horrible 9-5 IT Job (Client Services Specialist, whatever that means).
I printed 50 shirts and almost sold out in one day while vending at a street festival, I knew I was onto something. I quit my job 3 months later (in overly dramatic Office Space type fashion), sold my beloved car for $5000 cash on craigslist and have spent the last 3 years pouring my blood, sweat and tears into building a clothing line on my own (with some help from Duke).
The concept behind the line was to design casual tees for young professional types like myself who wanted a bit of refinement & thoughtfulness in their graphics compared to the horrible Ed Hardy style that was popular at the time. My inspiration was and continues to be drawn from historical imagery which I've used to develop an entire range of over 40 graphic tees.
BUILDING THE LINE
I have gained a small but very loyal following over the last few years as people I meet have been inspired/motivated by amount of work and level of detail I've put into bootstrapping & growing the line organically. The Duke & I complete over 50 trunk shows each summer all up and down the East Coast, I opened one of the city's most talked about clothing shops 5 months ago in the living room of my apartment (where I still live).
One of the things I am most proud of is being able to share the D&W story with high school & college students, designers, entrepreneurs and even corporate type folks looking for motivation to go out on their own. The fact that my tiny business is looked at as an example of how to successfully follow one's passion, is the greatest feeling of all.
PRODUCT LINE SO FAR
In the last year, I've further developed the line to include polos, hats, hoodies, and ties. 80% of my products are MADE ENTIRELY IN THE USA and more than half of those are made right here in Philadelphia (Based on Kickstarter outcome, I have a contract pending to make my tees & hoodies in downtown Los Angeles, making D&W 100% USA MADE)
REASON FOR BEING ON KICKSTARTER
I need to gain a wider audience for Duke & Winston as I believe I've done enough to develop a brand that has a ton of potential with a national audience. As it is, I am lucky to sustain the business based on the repeat supporters of the line but I am not able to grow or bring on much needed assistance.
The funds raised on Kickstarter will allow me to add a few more pieces to the product line and attend two major trade-shows in 2013 in an attempt to attract wholesale buyers for the line. These wholesale accounts will give Duke & Winston a national audience and will bring in steady revenues needed for me to build infrastructure and make this a long term venture.
USAGE OF FUNDS
Below is a breakdown of how I will use the funds I raise.
$5000 - for full collection samples (belts, wallets, button downs, jackets,...) ALL DOMESTICALLY MADE IN PHILADELPHIA, LANCASTER, PENNSYLVANIA & DOWNTOWN LOS ANGLESES
$10,000 - Cost to attend both NYC & Vegas trade shows in July. Cost include booth fees, booth design, travel expenses, design & printing of all marketing materials (photo-shoots, line sheets, look-books, business cards,...)
$5,000 - The develop rewards for all pledges given on Kickstarter.
I've put together some awesome and very unique rewards for your pledges. At the $25 level, funders will receive an exclusive tee I designed just for Kickstarter, the "Kickstart the Duke: tee. The rewards and packages just get better and better from there. Check out images of rewards below and Thank you all so much for taking the time to watch my video and read through the story. I truly appreciate the support:
$150 Reward Level
Other Products Included (Shopping Spree Rewards)
Risks and challenges
The biggest challenge for a small brand like mine is that it needs to grow but growing too quickly before you have the right infrastructure can be fatal so I've spent the last month working with a local fulfillment shop to help me manage the growth that I am expecting once I attend trade shows and wholesale orders start to come in. I currently house all my inventory in an empty bedroom in my apartment but will have to quickly find a larger space. I also need to hire part time assistance to help me with day to day tasks so I don't get overwhelmed (to handling orders, customer emails/phone calls, returns, website updates, trunk shows, trade show planning) . I've been doing this solo for almost 3 years but I'm not afraid to bring on outside assistance as soon as I feel like I need it. Another HUGE challenge is sticking to my decision to keep D&W made in the USA. It is a very easy ideal to have but finding the right production partners can be difficult (ones that can meet margins required to stay in business - very important point that is often overlooked in the Domestic vs Overseas debate). Luckily for me, I live in a city that was once the manufacturing capital for the country and I've been able to find a lot of local talent, from sewers to pattern makers, graphic designers, screen printers, dye & wash houses, trim manufacturers,... I now just need to provide them with orders to fill.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)