I started William Wilson Clothing with 3 major obstacles. 1. We were in the middle of the economic down spiral. 2. I didn’t know anything about the clothing industry. 3. No one knew who I was. When I think about it, it was really pretty stupid to start a company under these conditions. But God uses the foolish things of the world to confound the wise. (1 Corinthians 1:27)
The economy was out of my control. But the other two obstacles weren’t. To overcome my second obstacle, I taught myself the clothing industry online. For obstacle number 3, I devised a branding strategy, and set out to execute it. My goal was to make sure the Charlotte Market knew who I was. It doesn’t matter how good your product is if no one knows you exist. I made a commitment that if I didn’t sell a single suit that year, people would know my name, and my brand.
I went to every event I could afford to attend; sometimes 3-4 events in a day. Once, I got home and bent over to remove my shoes. I woke up 2 hours later, still bent over, with a sore back, and my shoestrings still in my hands. It was hard, exhausting work, but it was necessary. After a few months, people started to recognize me, and I started getting some press. I slowly started getting put on guest lists. First it was general admission. Then the VIP lists started. Before I knew it, I was becoming a recognized and respected brand.
The plan was working. So I kept following it, only I was becoming smarter. I began to streamline my calendar. I made sure that I attended events for a purpose, not to just be seen. I elevated my brand exposure by maximizing my time, and going to where the people I needed to see were. I started getting feature articles written about me and TV exposure. I even got my first magazine cover in Sophisticated Charlotte Magazine. This didn’t make me a star, or make me “The man”. But it gave my brand credibility and integrity. This opened the doors that led to designing suits for the Grammys, the Oscars, and everything else I’ve done. There is nothing special about me. I didn’t do anything, that thousands of others haven’t done. I don’t have a “magic touch”, or super skill. I’ve been blessed far beyond what I deserve. But none of this would have happened without a lot of faith, and a lot of sweat equity.
Social media is great. I utilize it regularly. But you can’t build a brand off Facebook and Twitter. You can enhance your brand exposure, get instant feedback on potential campaigns, get market research data, and even build a fan base. But a fan and a customer ARE NOT the same. You HAVE to put in the work. There is no substitute for that. If you aren’t willing to sacrifice comfort, sleep, and fun, and risk total failure for success, you’re not an entrepreneur, you’re a wantrepreneur. If that’s who you are, that’s OK. Just accept it, move on. Get a job somewhere. Otherwise, stop making excuses and put in the work. It may not succeed, but it definitely increases your chances. Until next time…..
God bless and dress well,
William Wilson, CEO
William Wilson Clothing