Part 2 of How We Got Here
Logistically I had not thought this through. This equipment was much bigger than I had expected. The company told me that a truck with a liftgate would be able to deliver, especially since the equipment would be coming to my house.
OK, I got a little ahead of myself…...I still had no clue what I was doing. I was still teaching at the time, just thought it might lead to an eventual revenue stream and perhaps an opportunity to get out of teaching. If it never panned out, at least I had the equipment needed to keep myself and my friends in the raddest t-shirts around……..IF, I could figure out how to do this. The plan was to set the equipment up in the basement, learn the ropes, and see if we could drum up a little bit of business. No real aspirations for greatness, but I wanted to create a motivational fitness brand because I was in a season of life at the time where I was undertaking a small fitness journey and thought it would be a cool way to inspire others to do the same. I also was realistic and knew that right out of the gate I didn’t have ANY funds to start up any sort of brand but instead needed to worry about making money and paying down some debt. Hell, the smart thing to do is probably to learn how to screen print.
Back to logistics…..since this is a residential delivery. Even though the seller had guaranteed that a liftgate delivery would be possible, the tune was now changing and the only shipper was a rig. I lived in a sub-development where big trucks were not allowed. Honestly, it was a dead end road and there wasn’t even any place to maneuver in our neighborhood, it was out of the question for a delivery to my house. Dad offered up his place of work for the delivery and the drop was made a few days later. We loaded everything up on a trailer using the forklift at his place of employment and dreams were even closer to reality. It had actually worked….in front of me was the beginning of a dream. A new way of life. A brand new career. I knew none of that in that moment, I was just stoked to finally have my own equipment and eager as a beaver to get set up and have some rad tees that I had printed rolling off that conveyor belt.
The set up took a few days. Putting equipment together and leveling. I believe I took a couple days off work to get things set up and do some experimenting. I had a student teacher at the time. I was sort of just there to make sure he didn’t do anything outrageous and he was honestly the best student teacher I ever had, so there was no hesitation. Since all of the equipment was set up, I invited a buddy of mine to come up for the weekend and see if he could show me a few things. I couldn’t wait to have Renegade on the chest of some shirts.
I guess now would be a great time to talk about why the name. I truly did have the intention of making some money quickly, paying off the debt and transitioning to a brand type apparel line where we just printed our own gear and sold that. But I knew I was going to have to compete for at least a little while with the other screen printers in town for a little bit of business and they were both already well established. Also working against me, this place isn’t very big which limits the amount of business that exists. Lots of folks even doubted me by saying, “are you sure there’s enough business?”. The answer was not no, but HELL NO. I didn’t KNOW anything. I literally bought equipment to start screen printing and I hadn’t even watched the process. I had no idea what the purpose of the screen was. How to coat the screen. How the ink gets onto the shirt. How the ink dries. I knew NOTHING……………..
Well I knew nothing about the business, I did know something about myself and that was this. I would figure out a way to pay off the debt, but if I ever decided that I was going to be able to commit to this full-time, I could be successful. I knew nothing about the process but I knew that I could and would learn.
Anyway, back to the name…….Renegade. The one thing I knew was what people complained about in regards to the competition. I had heard the negative comments because they are always louder and more frequent than words of praise. I knew I wanted to be different, I wanted to do things different from the competition so I didn’t earn that same reputation. I’m sure I have a paper somewhere with the brainstorming that took place but it must have taken me weeks to come up with the word renegade. A renegade is someone who denies social convention. I wanted to be different, I wanted to go against the grain a little. I mean this was an uphill battle after all. Both of these businesses were pretty established, one very established. And I STILL don’t know how to do any of the process. So we settled on the name Renegade after much thought with a slogan, “Go not where others have been, but dare to go where others won’t”. Honestly, I was pretty proud of the tagline. So many people, I still deal with it today, are so set in routine that they never break it. That can include buying habits as well. As a society, we crave comfort. Comfort is things we know, things we are familiar with. If someone has always gone to Tom’s Quick Lube for their oil changes, as long as Tom doesn’t screw up royally, they will likely continue their loyalty to Tom and his establishment. Same is to be said for this town and who they went to for shirt printing. So not only do I not have any clue what I’m doing, and I did find out that the learning curve is fairly steep, much steeper than anticipated, but getting small town folks to flip their allegiances is quite tough. Work was to be done……..good thing I’ve never minded working for things I want and believe in.