« Side Hustle School

#129 - College Buddies Create $15,000 Bow Tie Hustle


After making the decision to upgrade their wardrobes, two Virginia college students start a bow tie side hustle.

Side Hustle School features a new story EVERY DAY of someone who started a hustle without quitting their job. You’ll learn how they got the idea, how they overcame challenges along the way, and what the results are. You need a hustle!

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Twitter: @chrisguillebeau

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
What's up? What's up? Welcome back! This is crystal about for side, hustle, school, good story and a good lesson for you today: lots of people that ask about how to find manufacturers, especially overseas manufacturers, either for a custom product that you want to make or four items you want to purchase to resell. Well, there is a great resource you can use called Ali Baba. It's a global directory that connects manufacturers suppliers, business owners. Entrepreneurs really- what an idea it can be used for lots of different things, I'll show you example today of how to college buddies used it to design produce and
sell their own custom about ties. The project has made fifteen thousand dollars for them so far and are hoping to grow at much more. That story right after this today story comes from Christie, Antonio in Virginia Chris. As a recent college graduates who works in software sales, Makin College, he and his buddy Kyle Boswell started Virginia Southern. A brand selling, affordable bo ties and here's how Chris got the idea a week before his birthday, his mom calls and asked him what he wanted. He thought about it, why he wanted to improve his wardrobe with a nice button down shirt and a boat I, but when he started looking around, they realize how expensive most bow ties were and he came to the realisation that if he was buying it himself, you can only afford one measly bow tie. They cost about sixty dollars each at the time. As a college student, he didn't have a lot of
cash on a whim. He tried making his own that Ngos super great. He found a tinsel and instructions online. You cut up an old t. Shirt according to the instructions started to hand stitch it decided pretty, Finally, it was not depart. Maybe it was because he had no experience in sewing outside of a brief high school home Economics Class, or maybe the instructions were just too complicated. In any case, Chris decided to go bigger on a Thursday afternoon. He decided he wanted to sell quality, affordable boat eyes by Friday night. He had created a website, Found a manufacturer and just needed to pay for inventory and find someone to run a project with him. That's where his friend Kyle came in Did you find out manufacturer or first, our looking,
a company in the. U S, he did find some textile factories, but he saw pretty quickly that they were cost prohibitive. He wanted to provide high quality at a low price, so we realize you would need a source from overseas to do that. He turned to one website, called alibaba dot com and found manufacturers for everything he needed. Both ties, matching pockets, where's, custom packaging, even bumper stickers, the site allowed him to search for products and fine corresponding manufacturers and lets you sort through different companies based on ratings trade assurance and other factors Chris, like the process of going through different product offerings, emailing back and forth, even negotiating over price and minimum order quantity. He began by filtering his search results too highly rated manufacturers that made men's ties here. Narrowed down to three or four companies that he liked and began that communication process. You ask them questions about Lee Time, shipping terms, pricing, how customizable they could be, and so on an honest network. Alibaba manufacturers, our view
competitive with one another. They will respond to inquiries within an hour, often sooner than that, and sometimes four hours a day, so Chris, what kind of use them mission from one manufacturer to barter down the price, another one, or to try and save hundreds of dollars by getting free shipping. And finally, he requested a sample product which allowed him to see the attention to detail, as well as the overall quality. It took a couple weeks for the sample to come in the mail so doing time, Christen Kyle, improve that website got a logo designed on fibre dot com for just twenty five dollars and prepared to go into business when they receive a sample. They felt forest. They knew they had met the right manufacturer that met their expectations, christen, child and scratched whether a thousand dollars for their first amatory, a big investment for them, but when they were excited to make the final product was a high quality. Oh tie and Pocket square combo- that sulphur, just twenty five to thirty dollars compared to those
pensive sixty to eighty two hour once already on the market. They took all the photos for the website themselves. They use their friends as models and Chris had later, but I think was so cool about. Creating this brand was finding these naked, inexpensive ways to get it up and running. It really is amazing how much you can do with almost no cash. The online store took off not right, but slowly and surely within the first few months there are making about two or three hundred dollars a month. Then it got up to five, dollars a month and eventually decided to try to sell their boat ties in college bookstores, when they do that they discover that most of these bookstores are actually owned by big companies like Barnes a novel. So instead they went out for those few privately held bookstores and off campus unofficial bookstores. They noticed that most of those stories didn't offer both eyes at all or the ones they carried were expensive and kind of boring. Their brand is called Virginia Southern, so the Virginia Tech Bookstore has been especially good for them. After two years working part time, Christen Kyle are now intend. Different bookstores have made a bit more than fifteen
dollars and profit. They ve also had a couple of first place, finishes in local craft This failure was when they were trying to produce tee shirts to add to the line. They thought there would be a good idea, but it wasn't one. Again they went abroad for a low cost option. But this time it didn't work out so well. They got a batch of tee shirts with holes, cricket logos and inaccurate, ices. They ended up giving them all away and decided to strict about eyes for now sure they're working on getting into more bookstores improving their online sales and continuing to see where they can take this hustle. So Congrats to Chris and Kyle Virginia Southern sounds fun. And I want to use this story to illustrate the lesson of finding manufacturers for the first time, especially if you want to produce something overseas. Now that brings us to Ali Baba the same tool that Christian Kyle used.
And appreciate the same tool that some of our other featured stories have used as well. If you just go and look at that website, alibaba dot com, it can look a bit coming. There is a lot of stuff there. As I said, it's a global network connecting manufacturers, vendors suppliers in all sorts of different categories, so obviously, in textiles and apparel, like we heard this story, but also all kinds of other stuff, consumer electronics, duty and personal care, sports gifts, toys, mechanical parts of all kinds, so there's two ways to use the site or is actually probably more than but to keep it simple. The first way is, if you like chris- and you have a specific idea, you're like I know I want to make both ties or whatever my thing is well, that's great because you ve got it narrowed down. You can go to this website, create a free membership start looking at the textile providers narrowed down. Just like you did and then begin that process back and forth, trying to get a sample see what works for you and the second way, if you dont, have a specific
de I like he did, but you like this idea of making something creating your own brand or simply buying products to resell which some of our other stories have done, I case you might want to spend some time, let's say at least an Aren't you whenever you can fitted in just getting more familiar how this whole network works it a lot of help pages on the site? There are a lot of different links in categories. You're, not gonna, learn everything you need to know in an hour, but you can get a general surface understanding of how the process works and from there you can start to narrow it down and say: ok, Now that I see all these different products, all these different manufacturers is there something it speaks to me. Does a spark, an idea for me and ask The greatest challenge is public money be narrowing down because there are so many different options, one tip from Chris before I sign off. He says in his Ex Its reading reviews and tracking ratings was a good first step, but he thinks you can get em better understanding of the company based off your converse
and what the salespeople people as well as the initial sample you get. The quality ranges widely from very high to very low, even on the same search page to being able to figure out which works best, for you is probably the most critical task. I hope that is helpful to you. Today. We will link up Virginia Southern and Ali Baba on the show page for today's episode, which is outside us all, school dot com, slash one to nine As for one hundred one, twenty nine big surprise episode, one thirty is coming to Morrow. I know it's a shocker. Always remember. Inspiration is good, but inspiration combined with action is so much better to think about what you could make just like christen Kyle did they go out and actually
If you do that I'll be cheering you on I'm crystal about. This is at school.
Transcript generated on 2020-08-06.