Anyone who has ever started a business knows that your first sales almost always come from family and friends. Afterall, when we are kids and selling chocolate bars for Boy Scouts or Girl Scout cookies, who did we sell to first? Mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, aunts and uncles, people from church our parents co-workers or the people in our immediate neighborhood.
This doesn't change as an adult opening a business. Your immediate network of family and friends tend to be who take a chance on your new business first. The great thing about that is you can test your shipping methods and vendors and see which are the best without having negative feedback.
In our case, I was not happy with the quality of the printing from one of the vendors I had chosen. They had a lot of great reviews but they didn't impress me. They took 3 extra days to process because they couldn't figure out that a transparent background with white text to go on a dark shirt will be hard to see in the uploaded files gallery, you actually have to open the design not just glance for it. This was my first clue that these guys didn't have it all together.
Then when the items arrived, one was printed clearly BUT it was crooked just slightly but enough that I as the designer noticed. The person who bought it, was family and they didn't notice it until I pointed it out. So it wasn't a glaring error but would have been enough for me to refund a customer. I'm a perfectionist and expect things to be done right when I pay for them.
The other tee in the order had a pocket design that did not print clearly even though they were sent crystal clear scalable vector art. I've been a graphic designer for more than 25 years submitting t-shirt designs to various printers around the country and it was just a bad print. Thankfully my family member didn't mind. But I did and didn't charge to replace it. As family they argued, wanting to pay but I told them if they were a stranger I would have offered a free replacement, only fair I do the same for them.
The second order from a family member went to a different vendor and THEY were cheaper by quite a bit with better shipping rates. Sometimes we assume cheaper won't be as good but in this case the work was perfect. Perfectly centered, even, light hand on the ink so it doesn't feel like rubber and it was crystal clear as a DTG or screenprint can be. The underprint was also very well done. Definitely sticking with that second vendor.
So while it is painful to wait for those strangers to order you can utilize that time to order samples, check out all the products, check on your vendors work, don't just take reviews from others as the only advice.
The hardest part of it all is, you need money to make money and unfortunately it is hard to part with operating or purchasing funds to advertise but it does pay off eventually.
Bottom line...don't give up too soon. It took Jeff Bezos years to make Amazon.com profitable.So...sales or no sales, South of Memphis is in this for the long haul. We'll get there one day.
What was our first non-family member sale? To a woman in Ohio, who purchased a classic The Godfather puppetmaster logo t-shirt.
If you want to help us get there...go buy something from us! haha