The last 10 months for Tom Barett have been some of the most frustrating and unprecedented times we've encountered since starting the business in March 2020.
We will break down this recap by dividing the months & speaking on what they entailed.
Fresh off releasing our Chocolate Brown, Dove Grey Hoodie and Track Pant set, we were more motivated than ever. This release ended up being our biggest and most successful drop to date. We had sold out of almost all our hoodies over the first weekend, which was completely surreal and something Tom Barett hadn’t experienced before.
Riding on the high of this release we believed it was time to invest in upgrading our products. This meant improving the fabrics, the colours, the fit and the quantaties. We believed this was our opportunity to take Tom Barett to the next level. Our new manufacturer filled us with confidence and in our naivety we paid for the entire bulk production of T-Shirts and Shorts before even seeing a sample... and that right there, was our first big mistake as a business.
In all our excitement we had not considered the business transaction we had just made. What if we don’t get our stock? What if the stock is terrible? We had put all our trust with in this manufacturer and next collection and even our business was all in their hands.
4.5 weeks had passed since we last spoke to our manufactuer and the samples were finally on the way. The sampling process is always an exciting time because you are slowly seeing your product become tangible, and what once was just an idea is now product in your hands.
The courier dropped off our package which contained 5 sample garments. 3 T-shirts and 2 pairs of shorts. Now when I say we were dissapointed with what we had received, that is putting it lightly. Almost everything was incorrect. From the weight, the colours, the fit, the neck tags, the care tags and even the fabric. We were gutted. I remember sitting there with Josh and neither of us were saying anything as we were processing what we just received. A million questions begin to run through our heads. How could this be? Our instructions were so clear? Is this a mistake? What do we do now?
In the past we had been through the sampling process and understood that alterations are needed to achieve the product you envision, but this was so far from what we had asked for. Even worse we were planning to release this collection in December.
So poor were the samples we received, we asked the manufacturer for a full refund on our order and tried to cut ties with then. Of course, this wasn't possible as when starting an order with this manufactuer you are obliged to complete the entire bulk production. This was outlined in their policies.. here lies mistake number 2.
We soon realised we were going to have to continue to sample these items until they got it right. This meant we were going to have to cancel the December drop as there was no way it was going to be ready in time. Although disappointing, we could not share our new clothing at the desired time. Cash flow was going to be the next problem for Tom Barett. Firstly, most of our money was with this manufacturer. Secondly, we did not have enough product on hand to sell to, which would of paid our monthly costs. Tom Barett was basically on the verge of crashing.
Since our last batch of samples in September, we had not received anything from our manufacturer. As you can imagine we were growing increasingly aggitated and impatient, until finally the next round of samples had arrived. To our surprise they met our standards, although some fit adjustments would be required. All we now had to do was wait for our final bulk order to arrive.
As we were still waiting for the bulk order, we used our samples for the main shoot, as a means to get ahead of schedule. This way, when the garments arrived we could release them immediately.
MAY (PRESENT DAY)
You'd think by now that there would be a positive moment, unfortunatley not. Firstly, when our stock did finally arrive, only half of it came. The order was missing our entire collection of shorts. Secondly, the quality was not up to our usual standard and worse than the samples. This once again was another blow to Tom Barett. After much discussion we were also most considered not selling them at all and donating them to charity. Instead they have been listed at a cheaper price to what our T-Shirts are usually priced at. Since receiving these garments and putting them on the website we are ready to move on from this disaster and now focus on our upcoming hoodies. If anyone buys the T-Shirt we have mentioned in the future we just see it as an added bonus as we have committed to leaving that drop in the past and getting the brand back to where we believe it should be.
As all of these problems were occurring, we often referred to the quote made by Franklin D Roosevelt "A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor", as reminder that the journey of running a business will have it's ups and downs and once you conquor and adapt to these bumps (or waves) on the path you will make it out the otherside more resilient and experienced than ever before.
We thank you for you continued support through the last 10 months or so, and are very excited to show you what is to come.
- Henry & Josh