Could you tell us a bit about yourself, what you sell at Pedal Up Apparel and how you got started?
My name is Beydoun Dennis, I started Pedal Up Apparel after my second motorcycle accident. My wife had pled with me to stop riding for awhile since our youngest child had just been born. A few of my friends were mountain bikers and convinced me to take up the sport. Reluctantly, I did and immediately fell in love with it.
It dawned on me that everytime we were done riding, we got back to our cars and changed into something dry, most of us would change into t-shirts that represented other sports. So with this in mind, I had an idea to design t-shirts that represented cyclist on and off the bike.
So even when we were done riding and stopped to get something to eat, people, without seeing the dusty bikes latched to the cars, would know that we enjoyed cycling as a hobby. With this, Pedal Up Apparel was formed.
What did it take to get your first products in stock? Has that changed since you started?
I do not dropship - I wanted to give my customers a personal touch when they received their packages, which included handwritten Thank You notes, perfectly packaged items and knowing that it was sent off with a little extra love. This is something dropshipping doesn’t cover.
As for getting my first products in stock, I experimented with multiple brands of blank t-shirts. I only wanted to use the best, even if it cost me a little bit more. Living in the Los Angeles area, I was opportuned to have this at my advantage and utilized it until I found the right one to print on. I also went through multiple wash and dry processes until I was sure that the material fit my brand.
Once the materials were chosen, I looked specifically for a print shop that was able to bring my designs to life. I found a print shop on the first shot and when I walked in, forgetting to peel off the “visitor” sticker for the blank t-shirt company which I had visited earlier to get more info on their process, and the owner of the print shop told me how she loves to work with that brand. I was sold and a few weeks later, I eventually got my first product in stock.
How did you get your first sale?
My first sale came through the first day I opened for business. I went around in my neighborhood on my bicycle handing out stickers and and informing people that I would be launching at a set date and if they could please support. It worked!
What obstacles and challenges have you overcome along the way?
Scaling has been my biggest challenge. I do pretty well but would like to see my products circulating in retail stores nationwide. It’s been hard getting out there.
What influenced your decision to use Shopify?
I had been searching for a few days and called around to a few hosting sites. Shopify was the only one that let me speak to a real person and answered my questions thoroughly.
Also, I spent a lot of time on Google and reviews from YouTube and everything led to Shopify and honestly, I have not once doubted this platform.
What was the process like to get started? Is there anything you wish you had known then that you know now?
Loaded question but here goes - the process of starting was quite easy. I had an idea and I was going to go about it the right way. I wanted to be as legitimate as a business gets with all the bells and whistles. I got my domain name and when I was satisfied with it, I went to my county office to register my business name. Fortunately, I was able to secure it and that same day, I was able to secure my tax ID and sellers permit. The best part is, I got it all for $65.00, which included posting my business name in the local paper.
As for knowing then what I know now, a lot for short! Photoshop, photography, web design, building trust, marketing, just to name a few.
I often kid with other startups that I now share my knowledge with that I personally would not have bought from me when I first started. I mention this because where I am now, it took a lot of trial and error to solidify myself in the ecommerce world. Luckily for me, I’m surviving!
My advice to other startups: take time to establish your store before launching. Doing this will save you a lot of time.
What Shopify apps do you currently use? Which apps are most important to your business?
Yotpo for reviews
Crush.pics for image compression
Last but not least Storetasker for when I need a customized work
I do not like too many apps so customizing my site works flawlessly.
What theme did you choose for your site and why?
I chose the District theme. Its straightforward and matches my brand perfectly. Besides, the customer service is impeccable.
What strategies have you used to attract more leads and grow Pedal Up Apparel?
Instagram and my Facebook page have been the places working for me.
What are some of the most effective ways that you interact with your customers?
I mostly use email and Facebook messenger.
What are you working towards now?
Marketing has been my main focus for the last month. My goal is to have my products in stores nationwide soon.
Are there any blogs or other resources that have been helpful for you?
My main resource is a Facebook group called Shopify Entrepreneurs. Lots of quality information and knowledgeable information. Awesome group.
Based on your own success, what advice would you share with others who might be just starting out with Shopify (or with eCommerce in general)?
Know your audience. Not everyone that thinks your idea is great would support you.
Leave room for disappointment - it happens. Don’t be discouraged, set a goal and continuing working on it.
Longevity and consistency equals success.
Where can we learn more?
Beydoun Dennis, Founder of Pedal Up Apparel