Working at a t-shirt shop, I see a lot of people come in with big ideas for their brand new apparel lines. It’s inspiring to see people walk in with an idea and walk out with box of shirts, headed for a clothing swap, retail store or other sort of outlet. I decided to try my hand at designing and building a brand to get a feel for the process and how much work goes into it.
My idea was to create a brand based on my interests in hopes of finding a network of like-minded people. I like to think, hike, and take pictures. I’d like to see a wave of intellectual, compassionate, positive ideas sweep the globe. After thinking about it for a while, I chose to go with “Parallax.” I like how the word looks and sounds and what it means. Parallax is the apparent change in an object when viewed from different angles. I liked how the concept involved vision, perspective, geometry, and was a good philosophical idea, metaphorically. I related the concept of parallax to how seers, seekers, shamans and wizards of days gone by would go to mountaintops to have enlightening experiences and then come back down from the mountain invigorated, returning with new perspectives on solving problems the village may have had. Their literal change in perspective had provided them a metaphorical change as well. Their altitude/attitude continuum had been engaged.
Further research led me to look at how people market their apparel to an audience. I set up a whole social media campaign (twitter, facebook, tumblr, etc.) and website for Parallax Apparel. I made a list of markets that basically boiled down to people like myself: intellectual nerds with an appreciation for mystical experiences and hiking. No laughing! Whatever… at least I’m doing something! What’s your idea?
Parallax Apparel was an exercise in doing! In that way, at least, it was a success. I can easily ruminate over things for decades and never get to the actual action. I’ve adopted the habit of taking action to push through my tendency to overthink. I like to jump in and fail rather than not try. Yoda said, “Do or do not; there is no try. ” Maybe I’m just being a sith, but I think there’s a lot of useful knowledge to be learned by trying and failing. Full disclosure: I try not to take motivational cues from a 38 year old movie series. Also, I really hope I’m not a sith.
I finally drew a few conclusions: 1.) building and promoting an apparel line is a full-time job in itself if you really expect to succeed. 2.) there’s a very small margin for success, 3.) there’s massive amounts of competition, and 4.) developing a widely appealing brand is kind of like making the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs.
I haven’t given up on Parallax Apparel, but for now this project is back-burnered and I’d rather spend time on other projects. It was an enlightening, humbling experience to put my idea out there and see how tiny it is in the sea of ideas we all get bombarded with in a given day. I still have a full box full of unsold shirts from sizes L-2XL if anybody believes in the dream!