“I'm thinking one extra year and then I’m out, that would put us into spring of '13. At that point it's the end of the line for me. I pull the rip cord and head back to Boston. I will take the next year off, get everything rolling and we open up in late spring, early summer '14. That’s my plan.”
It's interesting when you think about a year - it can seem very short, but in reality it's a fairly long period of time. Looking back one year ago today, I remember anxiously awaiting the calendar to flip, knowing with that simple turn of a page, there could be no more delays, no more analysis; it was time to get serious about how to launch a clothing company.
Encore Apparel Co. was just a vision at that point, there was nothing concrete or tangible about it. With the ’13 New Year’s Eve ball making its descent, the time had arrived for me to start pushing a long standing idea forward; the moment was right to try and make something happen. Sitting here exactly a year later, it's pretty cool to take a few moments and assess how far the E.A.C. concept has grown.
As you can see by the excerpt I started this blog entry with, I thought about Encore Apparel Co. for a long time. Many years actually. The whole thing was like a song you couldn’t get out of your head, no matter how hard you tried to silence the noise. Having no clue about the apparel industry or retail in general (not that I’m by any means experienced or knowledgeable now!) it was very daunting just to start something - anything.
A somewhat unexpected thing happened though. Once I took the first initial steps, a vaguely discernible path started to open up in front of me. At no point was it clear what each new bend in the path would bring, or exactly where the path was headed, but I felt like I carried a decent enough compass so I just kept going. One step soon led to ten steps. Ten steps eventually turned into a hundred. Before you know it, all those small steps start to add up and you’ve actually started to build something.
A lot of people have asked me – well can you explain in more detail how you actually did it? There really isn’t a quick answer to that question. Being that it is New Year’s Eve and we’re all full of reflection, I figured why not just offer a condensed summary of the incremental steps the company took in ’14 which got Encore Apparel to today. Below you’ll find an abbreviated version of that journey.
If you were diligent enough to get through that entire timeline, you might have the impression that it was a relatively smooth and painless process for us to launch this little enterprise. Well I wish I could say it was easy, but that would be far removed from reality.
Not included in the above summary were all the fun hurdles that continuously popped up, like our shipping agreement with UPS blowing up the day before our commercial launch, or receiving five hundred apparel boxes printed shoddily, or discovering some unexpected labels in certain shirts (wait these weren’t in the samples!), or visiting the MA Department of Revenue no less than six times, or wrestling with ongoing sizing issues for specific items, or continuously reworking design scale and alignments – over and over and over. At times the path was unbelievably frustrating and it felt like we’d never get to launch day.
Looking back on it all was it worth all the trouble? I think so. Mark and I set out to construct something that we hope can turn into a truly ‘meaningful’ business enterprise. Supporting LOCAL philanthropic causes and telling their stories was a big reason we embarked on this adventure. Having an outlet for our creative and music interests was also a motivating factor. Will what we created with Encore Apparel Co. be worth the substantial investment, both in terms of time and money? Only time will tell if all that energy spent building our vision of a socially responsible apparel company will ultimately resonate with people and end up being sustainable. We sure hope so.
One of the biggest takeaways I draw from my experiences this year is that everyone has ideas - businesses they may want to start, books they hope to write, trips they dream about taking, goals they long to achieve; but until those ideas or ambitions are actually put into motion with commitment, investment, and undertaking, they are little more than just wistful clouds. These unique inklings we all have, the little whispers that nag at your subconscious, they only become physical things or actual experiences when you commit to making them real.
As we close the book on 2014, think about picking one day a year for yourself - whether that's January 1st, a birthday, an anniversary, or just some random day in October - and reflect a bit on life, on all the important events that have transpired over those previous 365 days. Be sure to take a few moments to imagine all the exciting possibilities that may potentially lie ahead in the year to come as well.
Remember you'll never find out what's up around that bend unless you fully commit to the road that will take you there. In the words of Hunter S. Thompson: Buy the ticket, take the ride.
Happy New Year and here’s wishing you grand success in whatever you pursue in 2015!
Life is Short. Play it Loud.