Yesterday, I completed the paperwork to sell a company for the first time.
It feels good.
The company I sold is called NewLyfeClothing.com.
It’s a sobriety based tee shirt line that I have been managing for almost 10 years.
In this article, I will break down the business, the model, the sales and the biggest lesson I learned.
Let’s do this.
How It All Started
I started this company with one of my best friends, named Josh, nearly 10 years ago.
As many of you know, I have built many online businesses in the addiction recovery space. At the time, I was living in South Florida and I was spending a lot of time with my friend Ray, who is the owner of 8and9.com.
I saw what he had created and I had the idea to build a sobriety based lifestyle brand.
We had no idea what we were doing. But we were having fun. Before we knew it, we had out first 10 designs. So I threw up a Shopify store and we ordered our first bulk order from a local screen printer.
There was no business plan. We didn’t know anything about photography, ecommerce, shipping, customer service or even shirts.
But we gave it a shot, and it took off.
What New Lyfe Turned Into
This was one of the best times in my life.
Josh and I were both outgoing and daring enough to ignore all the reasons why starting a tee shirt company was a bad idea.
It didn’t happen over night, but before we knew it, we were averaging $600 a day in sales.
This may not be the multi million dollar company you were expecting, but you have to understand, this was a side project for us. Josh and I were already (and still are) partners in other companies and so this huge explosion of growth was truly shocking.
I knew that we were onto something when we were in Vegas at a pool party, and Josh and I both got recognized.
Before long, we had a make shift photography studio, a warehouse in the garage, and about 40 different products.
It was great.
How We Grew the Company
Growth was simple. I feel like we really cracked the code on creating a lifestyle brand. Here’s how we did it.
Step 1 – We ruthlessly got our clothes on as many attractive people as we could and took as many pictures as we could.
We gave away tee shirts to anyone who would be willing to do a photo shoot with us.
Most importantly, we didn’t take our photo shoots too seriously. We didn’t even have a good camera. Almost everything we did was on our iPhones.
We had a huge advantage because we lived in South Florida. So there were young attractive people everywhere and the landscape always presented natural sunlight and beautiful backdrops.
When in doubt, we would simply go to the beach and take pictures.
Understand, the magic wasn’t in the professionalism of the shoots or the quality of the camera gear. The magic was truly the vibe and the feel good atmosphere which was being portrayed in our social media. We asked our friends to be our models and we didn’t over think it.
We simply tried to have fun and took as many pictures as we could. You can never have enough content.
Step 2 – Post on Instagram as much as possible.
At the height of the company, we were posting 5 times a day or more. A lot of people thought we were posting too much, but we didn’t listen. We were building a community of people who were celebrating their lives in sobriety.
Posting on Instagram as much as we did got the message out there, and fast.
Step 3 – We personalized every package with a handwritten note and we asked people to tag us in pictures.
We ordered custom polly bags and I personally wrote a note on every package I shipped. People LOVED it.
We got tagged in so many pictures on Instagram because people couldn’t believe I spelled their name right and wrote a personalized note on eah package. People would spread the shirt out of the floor next to the note on the poly bag and then post it on Instagram.
When they tagged us, I would DM them with a discount code for their next order.
The system kept ratchetting up and up. The more people posted pictures, the more exposure we got. And the more exposure we got, the more shirts we sold.
Round and round and round.
Step 4 – Give away a discount code in exchange for email addresses and then sell shirts through automations.
Once I started getting more skilled at digital marketing, I learned how to automate the sales.
If you go to the website, you will see a dropdown. The drop down is a discount offer. So if you sign up for the newsletter, we will give you a discount code.
Then I wrote an automation of about 20 emails that constantly put new products in front of people. Every email sold the lifestyle and the idea of New Lyfe Clothing.
It was never about shirts, it was always about community and lifestyle.
Eventually … the company started slowing down.
Running a tee shirt company is a lot of work. We had been doing it for 2 years and we both had other passions.
Josh was moving back to Columbus and I was spending all of my time building Stodzy.
Simply put, we out grew the company.
But if there is a lesson to be learned through this entire experience, it’s this …
Never Give Away Good Cash Flow
When Josh moved back to Ohio, I had kept the company running myself.
I didn’t have the time to keep up with the Instagram or even ship the shirts. So I created a Printful account and I set up on demand shipping. This way, if anyone bought a product, the tee shirts would be shipped out to the customer with no work on my end.
In addition, the email automations were already generating a majority of the sales.
Over the years, I got the company rankings #1 for many valuable keywords. For instance, it was rankings for
- sober clothing
- sober tee shirt brand
- recovery based fashion
- sober tee shirts
- and more
For the last 5 years or more, the company has been selling about 1 shirt a day.
There were many times when I would get annoyed with customer service emails or when people asked how to refund the shirts. I almost shut the company down many times over, but in the back of my mind I always knew that passive income is the key to getting rich, so I kept it running.
Side note – For anyone who owns a Shopify store, you are aware of the “cha-ching” sound the app makes in your pocket when you make a sale. If it weren’t for that incredibility addicting sound, I may not have stuck it out.
I always knew that someday, I would find the right buyer for the company. I knew that it was an asset, and owning assets is the key to wealth.
So I’ve kept it. For the last 5 years, the company was slowly churning out sales on autopilot.
How I Made the Sale
The story is more boring than you think.
Someone found me through Stodzy and asked them if I would build them a website for a sobriety based ecommerce line.
I said “sure, or if you want, you can simply buy my company.”
In addition, I offered my services to grow the company.
So I sold a company and generated a client all in the same day.