Just like day one at jiu jitsu its a daunting task thinking about building your Jiu Jitsu brand when you basically don’t have a pot to piss in whether it be in Jiu jitsu lifestyle or another area.
With a Jiu Jitsu brand, or any, clothing brand you need certain basics. A unique product (inventory), an interested audience, a means to get your product in front of them and then a means to get the product to them.
Naturally all of this can often require $10s of thousands of up capital to start a Jiu Jitsu brand.But what do you do if you have approximately -$138 in your account? Have no fear you can literally start with pretty much $0.
Step One - Build your Jiu Jitsu Brand's audience.
It may sound strange to do this before you even have a product but in reality this is the part that takes the longest and is often the most challenging. If I could have done one thing differently it would have been to start this sooner.
So how do you start this before you even have your product. Simple, social media. It costs nothing and you literally have billions of people at your finger tips all interested in every aspect of the Jiu Jitsu lifestyle. The thing they don’t tell you when you have a Jiu jItsu brand or any brand is that a good +50% of your content to start with is often not product focused. People don’t purchase just because they see a pretty picture of a Jiu Jitsu inspired t-shirt. They want to get to know what your brand and in my case the Jiu Jitsu lifestyle is all about.
Before we had any product content for the brand we started posting general Jiu Jitsu lifestyle related content we thought was cool and resonated with what we were trying to say. Over time this led to connecting to more and more folk that has the same vibe as us. Then when we were ready to start pushing product content we were already connected to an audience of people interested in what we had to offer as a Jiu Jitsu brand.
So in short do not wait. Start building your Jiu Jitsu brand's audience now!
Step Two: Always be developing your brand
In the back ground while we were building our Jiu Jitsu brand's audience we were also auditioning factories, producing samples and testing, testing, testing. You may think every Jiu Jitsu t-shirt or rash guard is basically the same, how hard can it be?
Trust us it’s hard! You need to consider the weight, feel, material, elasticity, stitching, fit, how it washes, does it ride up etc etc. The last thing you want is to rush this process and put out shit jiu jitsu rash guards or products. This will literally ruin your brand.
To start we paid for bjj rash guard samples which cost us a bit, but over time as we started to produce more units and were able to negotiate our Jiu Jitsu rash guard samples for free or at shipping costs. While developing product for our Jiu Jitsu brand we made sure we’d receive the BJJ rash guard sample and then beat the shit out of it, see how it held up and then go back to the factory for a second round.
Once you have a design and sample you are happy with you are now ready to go into production for your Jiu Jitsu brand.
Step Three: Go to production
When starting out the best advice I received was to start small. As a new Jiu Jitsu brand you just do not have enough data to make good decisions on what will sell. The last thing you want is all of your capital tied up in jiu jitsu rash guards or Gi's that does not move.
Our first order was just 40 units. We posted up different design mock up online until we found one that resonated well with people. This was the design we then placed our first order for. We ran a presale which actually help us pay upfront without any starting capital.
Step Four: Marketing your Jiu Jitsu Brand
While production was running and the resale was running we started the marketing. If you have a strong following from step one you may find there is no need for paid advertising.
We found that literally $5 a day helped build traffic of similar Jiu jItsu lifestyle folk interested in the Jiu jItsu lifestyle. Facebook ads is a total pain in the ass and there is a whole other rabbit hole to go down we’ll save for another day.
Know that photography is king! I cannot tell you the amount of times I have seen some god awful pictures used in ads for probably decent Jiu Jitsu products. You are literally burning money if the photo does not make people want to buy.
Quick tip: invest in a 50mm lens and camera, these will elevate the quality of your images for a couple of $100.
In short remember you need to invest time, money and effort into a quality product and building a Jiu Jitsu lifestyle audience. There are no short cuts and you WILL loose money for the probably the first year or so. Over time with consistency you will see the dots slowly starting to connect and your Jiu Jitsu empire coming together.
We are by no means experts but if you are interested in connecting and sharing ideas around building a Jiu Jitsu or any brand free to reach out! The Jiu Jitsu lifestyle is what we love and we'd love to help share it.