Building A Brand - You Have To Love It Or Else You'll Never Make It
Let's rewind to sometime back in 2014. I was 27-28 years old, I hated my job. I was making pennies, at least I thought I was due to the amount of labor that my first job required. My job had no correlation to what I really loved to do which was art (unless you can fit changing tires into the Mona Lisa somewhere) I was a self taught artist. I drew on everything as far back as I can remember. Back in the school days, every test and every assignment was given a heavy dose of art. I found most subjects in school to be extremely boring. I respected my teachers. I had good grades, but art was always on my mind. Let's get back on track now, it's 2014. I had a house payment, two kids and of course the bills that came along with it. Every two weeks once my paycheck came around, I made sure that my family was fed and the bills were paid (hoping that no other expenses came up to cause me to come up short) I would take the extra money that was left from my check, usually about $20-$50 and I would buy supplies to build Rookie Rise.
I spent about a year developing the brand before the official launch on April 15th 2015. That was the day that the website went live. After the launch, I spent a ton of time talking with people who followed the line. There was a lot of really positive words coming from random people on Instagram, way back before they restructured their algorithm. Back before you didn't have to pay to have people see your content. It was really cool to see people start to gravitate towards the brands message. I didn't have much to work with in terms of cash flow, but I did what I could to get the brand out to those watching. The shirts in the pic of this blog were the very first Rookie Rise tees produced. The logo on the shirts came out smaller than I had approved, but I didn't have time to have them corrected. I had to get them to a show that night. I gave all of the shirts away to an up and coming music artist and his crew. I couldn't afford to give but I did it anyway. I went to sleep broke that night since the amount to have the shirts printed tanked my wallet.
What nobody will ever see is the sacrifice of your time and effort. They'll never see your hard decisions. They'll never understand your stress, your hardships or your failures. You must trust yourself to move forward, no matter what happens if things don't go your way. There's a lot of guessing that is involved. What would my audience like best? Am I even doing this all right? What can be improved? Is this going cost me more than it's worth? There's always a million questions and thoughts running through your head. It's a blessing and a curse.
When I hear people say that they are tired, trust me I feel you. When I hear someone complain that they are broke, I know what that's like, those overdraft fees were devastating! People assume that I was handed a special deck of cards in my favor to start this. I will end that speculation now and confirm, that is way off. This wasn't a deck of cards at all. This started off with a lot of hope and relentless dedication. It has been a chess game, but in my case, I was only given 2 pawns to try to take out every piece on the other side. I will assure you though, if you can put effort and energy into every step that you take. Move cautiously, calculating everything in front of you. You will knock down barriers and you will move to higher ground. The baby steps will add up. It'll seem significant to those who are on the outside looking in, but it's only significant if you utilize each day to the fullest.
To this day, I move like I did back when I had nothing. I'm always thinking about the next ten steps forward. I feel extremely fortunate to be able to type this knowing that I never took a handout, I never took out a loan to make ends meet. I worked really hard to bring a vision in my head to life. This brand allows me to exhibit my art and most importantly, it allows me to push a message to those watching. I couldn't be more happy about my decision to start this. (Let's just say that I'm glad that the start is far behind me now.) I have zero regrets about the choices that were made along the road to bring this line where it is today. Maybe I could have squeezed in more rest instead of stealing it away from myself, but do I regret it? No.
For the first couple of years I was crawling to bed and emptying out my own pockets. That's what it took, along with more energy than I can even begin to describe. It was a struggle. There were days where I would forget to eat. I didn't have anyone around to show me the ropes. I didn't have anyone to reach out to to give me any tips. I didn't have a single person to turn to for help. From the designs to the website and well, every thing else, I had to find a way to make it work. The reason why this brand is where it is today is because of you. This started because I never felt like I was worth much. I didn't want others to go through life feeling that way. I wanted to be able to push a brand that displayed a story when people saw it. A story of hope, desire, possibility and most importantly a story of YOU. Your desire to go after what you want. Your potential to hit a place in life that you always wanted to be. In the end, the people built this, not me. What you're seeing is a brand that has given this industry a voice. That's all that I wanted to do.
Thousands of customers later and here we are today. How did it grow? I woke up and fed it, talked to it and took it every where I went. To this day I have never asked anyone to buy a single Rookie Rise product. I post updates to my friends and others that follow the brand. If you want it, cool. If not, cool. But I'll never tell you to wear the brand! "Be a lot cooler if you did" ;) You'll never hear me force it on anyone. I think thats because I've seen many people on social media shouting "BUY THIS MIRACLE PRODUCT. I WANT TO HELP YOU. I ONLY NEED (X) AMOUNT TO REACH MY BONUS!" Uhhhh, what? Yeah, that's not how we do things here at Rookie Rise. Sorry for such a long read, there's just a lot that can be said. If you made it this far, thanks for reading! Thanks for checking out Rookie Rise. Now go get what life owes you, Rook! Rise Up!