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How One T-Shirt Idea Turned This Creative Into A Self-Funded Entrepreneur

Sarah Eckett, wearing her Girls Support Girls tee, for a recent Daisy Natives campaign.

On January 21, Sarah Eckett did what an estimated five million United States residents did that day: She marched. That Saturday morning, the T-shirt designer joined a group of her friends and took to the streets of her homebase, Austin, Texas, to participate in the global Women’s March, a walk of solidarity for women’s rights.

But Eckett’s march was different than most. While she protested, her phone was abuzz with notifications and text messages from her brand Daisy Native’s followers and friends. And as the Instagram tags kept coming in and unread emails began to flood her inbox, one thing was clear: a record number of marchers had participated in the Women’s March that day… and quite a few of them were wearing her Girls Support Girls T-shirt.

Although unprecedented, the popularity of her Girls Support Girls tee wasn’t the first time Daisy Natives had experienced a little online success. Social media platforms and digital marketing have been part of Eckett’s story as an solopreneur since she launched the line in 2015 (and she even credits Instagram for her start). I chatted with Eckett about the growth of her business and how other emerging, self-funded entrepreneurs might take her lead. If your side hustle is shaping up to be your full-time or you're itching to start out on your own, Eckett has a couple of tips:

1.) Just start. Don’t be afraid to begin with what you’ve got.

“I was at my day job, actually, working as a baker and cake decorator… I knew deep down that I was meant to be doing something else and I was meant for more. So, with the sewing machine I got that year and $30 worth of fabric from Joann, I opened an Etsy shop and started making headbands. I put out my first T-shirt a few months later, ‘Tacos and Champagne.’ I made 15 of them to start and they sold out in an hour. Being as small as I was, that was shocking to me. I just started putting more quirky things on T-shirts and here we are today, "Eckett says.

2.) Self-promote, even if your following is small.

Taking that bold leap to share your work can be intimidating, but, for Eckett, it's been a large part of her success. “Instagram is a major part of my business, and that’s definitely where I started. Back then, I had 350 followers and to sell 15 t-shirts was huge. I really thought, ‘Alright, I think I got something going on,’” Eckett says. Since her beginnings, Eckett has experimented with the content she shares and used social media as both a sales and branding tool for her business.

3.) Be prepared for things to take off and be mindful when you're developing operating processes you can’t scale.

Time management and prioritization can be tricky, especially when you're just starting out. For Eckett, many aspects of Daisy Native are a one-woman show, so she delegates where she can. “I do work with a local screen-printing company, but I design and fulfill every order myself. I’m really just running this out of my bedroom and doing everything I can with my own two hands," Eckett says.

She also maximizes moments of her day to dedicate time to creativity. "I make sure I have a pen and notebook next to me at all times. I have a tiny notebook in my purse when I’m out and about and I just write down so many things. I have a conversation with a friend and that sparks something or I’m going through Instagram and Pinterest and an idea pops into my head. I go back and forth; I write something down and think ‘oh god, that’s awful,’ and then a week later, I start playing on Photoshop with it and I start making a design that I could sell on a T-shirt," she explains. "There is a lot of thought that goes into it and I have to take consider every new design as a risk, because I’m self-funded. Every dollar that I spend really matters".

4.) Being a solopreneur is not glamorous. Expect to do all of the initial grunt work.

“I still do all of my own fulfillment out of the spare bedroom in my apartment (a 13- by 14-feet room). I have all my inventory and shipping supplies in there, and I would definitely prefer to be in a bigger space. One day, that will happen,” Eckett shares. Until then, Eckett plans to save for a studio or office space, while upping her inventory and increasing sales.

5.) Whether you grow quickly or slowly scale, that’s a part of your story. Tell it!

For Eckett, the tough moments of entrepreneurship are overpowered by the brand and vision of Daisy Natives; when the going gets rough, she recommends other independent entrepreneurs keep their goals and growth in focus. “I started in February 2015, so it’ll almost be three years. I was just a kid with a dream of being my own boss one day. You know, you never expect it. If you told me three years ago that I’d be sitting in my apartment surrounded by a million shirts, I would have never believed you," Eckett says. "I also really take pride in growing organically. I hope I’m always able to create something that’s super relatable.”

BouliBrand™ is a boutique marketing + entrepreneurship + communications + branding movement focused on creating vibrant, purposeful and revenue-generating media experiences on a partner-by-partner basis. With strategic partnerships in New York, Toronto, Athens, Los Angeles, New Delhi and Shanghai, we work directly with savvy, driven and optimistic clients wanting to produce fresh platforms of communication and target nouveau markets internationally with their startup businesses and services. BouliBrand is propelled by Georgios (George) Stroumboulis (Γιώργος Στρουμπούλης) - an internationally seasoned marketing professional with tangible business experiences across multiple industries and diverse cultures. To learn more about BouliBrand, Georgios and the stimulating team spearheading the BouliBrand movement forward, get in contact at www.BouliBrand.com, www.Facebook.com/BouliBrand, www.Twitter.com/Stroumboulis (@stroumboulis), www.Instagram.com/Stroumboulis (@stroumboulis), www.LinkedIn.com/in/Stroumboulis, www.YouTube.com/Stroumboulis or www.Pinterest.com/BouliBrand. BouliBrand shares progressive industry information related to the marketing, branding, entrepreneurship, investment, networking, financing, start-up, public relations, internet, web, creative and business movement. We gather select articles, blogs, news, posts, press releases, announcements, interviews, commentary, videos, clips and anything we feel might be worth reviewing for our visitors, followers, clients and partners.

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