What is hate? I have found that hate is a single syllable word that encompasses all negative, ill will, and jealous slings and arrows of anybody that cannot stand someone else's success. I have learned first hand that people will make negative comments before they will ever say something positive about another person, be them friend or enemy. A few years ago my best friend since elementary school was ranked as one of the top wide receivers in the nation for high school football. Throughout all of his accomplishments he came up with the hashtag on twitter and instagram #WLTH standing for “We Love The Hate.”
Pretty soon, lots of top athletes all over the United States adopted this saying as it inspired them. They all, in one way or another felt “hated on,” whether it was from coaches, other players, or fans. This slogan helped them cope with the “hate” and use it as motivation. A few months later my friend and I soon realized we could brand this slogan, spread the word, and create an apparel company that can convey such a positive message. For the past year, I did just that. “We Love The Hate,” or for short “WLTH,” has become a reality with a website, shopping cart, and a clothing line complete with accessories to help inspire as many people as we could across the world.
How did you validate the idea?
At first, we gained a lot of followers on our instagram account because WLTH was a known slogan throughout our city and lots of kids were anxious to see what we came up with as far as clothing. We got our first three customers through our instagram account. In order to validate this idea, it was important to make sure everything was professional at an early stage in business, that way we would not run into any future problems. I went with my parents to get a business license from the Financial Department here in Orange County California. Youtube was my best friend when attempting to start my own business. I found hundreds of videos on how to create a website and how to create and label your own brand. I found a local screen printer and wholesaler and before I knew it I had my own clothing brand.
Our target demographic is anyone between the ages of 8-25. Most of our clients do however play sports such as football, baseball, soccer and basketball. On the other hand WLTH can apply to more than just sports, it can apply to anyone who finds themselves needing reassurance and confidence. We have had several customers send us heart warming messages explaining that we have given them the confidence and motivation to get through bullying at school as well. Just last week we had a 9 year old girl direct message our instagram account and express to us that she used WLTH to get her through a bullying situation she was dealing with at school. On the other hand, lots of star athletes at top division 1 colleges and recruits relate to our message, for they are going through some much hate and criticism in sports.
What happened in the early stages?
At first I was clueless as to how we were going to fund a website, clothing, accessories and advertising. At the time of initially starting the business I was a sophomore in high school, the only source of income I had at the time was my birthday and Christmas. That year, I saved all the money I could and by the end of the year I had around $500 to start my dream of owning my own clothing brand. I met my cofounder at a very young age. I have had the same best friends my entire life and I am very fortunate to still be so close with them to this day, they are like brothers to me. After college I plan on going all in on this brand with my best friend, we just can’t right now due to current NCAA college football rules.
Did you run any companies prior?
Prior to We Love The Hate I have had no other businesses. This is my first business and I was motivated to create it by wanting to help others. I have always wanted to find a way to motivate others and create something that is both relatable and pleasing. The saying WLTH is just that, it is more than just a saying and clothing brand. It is a movement. My family supported me all the way and told me that as long as I put my mind to it, I would be able to accomplish anything. My friends and I know that years from now this brand will be something great, and there is no doubt in my mind that it will.
What have I learned?
Business is never perfect and nor will it ever be. Everyday things will happen out of your control and you just need to be patient and realize that it is the way you react that is most important. I am truly motivated by the successful entrepreneurs that I have looked up to my whole life including Bill Gates, Bob Hurley and James Jebbia. I feel that it is most important to develop the habits of the people that are at the top, for there is a reason as to why they are there and everyone else is where they are. The end goal is to bring this brand to the top and have it be an inspiration to young athletes and people with goals that seem unattainable.
The best advice I can give someone just starting out, is that everyone was once in your shoes and you just need to be dedicated and know what it is exactly that you want. Find the people that you want to be like and replicate their ideas and ways. As far as sales go, Instagram has been our best way for pulling customers and converting the sales. Through instagram I have found that using the direct messages and sending incentives out, has been our best way to derive sales. At first, people aren’t going to come to you. You need to go get the customers and put in the time and effort to build your reputation and name. I truly feel that time is money, and If I had more time on my hands I would definitely be able to grow this business much faster. The potential is there and it is evident. I am currently in school and it definitely makes it much harder to grow the business as fast as I would like to. There is always something you can be doing when it comes to growing a business, whether it be reaching out to people, working on your site/products or marketing. Most importantly, it is dedication that will get you to where you want to be.
How do you protect yourself from competition?
When it comes to clothing brands, it is an extremely competitive industry. I strongly feel that there is low competition in our case, mostly because there are not a lot of clothing brands out there that are solely based on motivating you and turning negative energy and criticism into ambition and determination. We are currently in the process of getting trademarks now that sales have started to pick up.
What are the top 3-5 apps your business could not run without?
There are a few apps that I definitely need when it comes to running my business. Instagram is the most important, mostly because no one would know about us without this app. Instagram allows us to connect with our clients and keep them updated with our latest promotions and releases. The next app would have to be Shopify. Shopify is our ecommerce platform. Shopify is nothing but amazing, there is so much to it as far as building your website, advertising and keeping up with analytics regarding your customers. Their support team is also the best, they have tons of experts and videos for you to make sure that you are successful in whatever you are doing. The next app that is essential in my eyes is facebook. Facebook and Instagram are intertwined when it comes to running ads and without facebook you cannot sell products on instagram. All of these apps are vital when it comes to successfully running a business as they make up everything regarding how I started my business and how I am able to pull customers to increase sales.
What are your next steps?
Every week we are coming up with more concepts and designs. Our goal is to make more athletic apparel such as athletic shorts and sweat wicking work out tops. We also are going to start making a lot more accessories such as football headbands, sports towels, phone cases ect. As of the moment we will be coming up with a new release of our shorts design for this upcoming summer and we plan on releasing phone cases very soon. I truly believe that in 5 years I will see my company in major sports stores throughout the United States. I also see my company sponsoring sports teams and having a store located in downtown LA.
I truly believe that with the amount of support that we have right now, the sky's the limit for us. Our current revenue for the year is less than $10,000. However, we have only been in business for a year and this number is just a start to something great. We have sold around 250 products since last year at this time, averaging around $30 to $35 an order. We Love The Hate will continue to grow as I am going to put in the maximum amount of effort required. I feel I have recognized a problem, and took the many steps to create a solution that has made a positive impact both on how people cope with serious problems and use these problems to create a better life for themselves.
|Company Name:||We Love The Hate|