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Vendor Love: Rodney

We love featuring local business owners, entrepreneurs, and vendors whenever we get the chance… that’s why we were really excited when we got in touch with Joel Evangelista and he agreed to talk about starting up his own business, known as Rodney. He was generous enough to share experiences about organizing a business, marketing product, and learning from mistakes – things most of you vendors out there can probably relate to! Without any further ado, here it is…

My name is Joel Rodney Evangelista and I’d like to welcome you to the world of Rodney. Everything started from the simple idea of creating and owning a vision. Much like any other project, we started with a small run of product and got it in the hands of people we support and love – from there, Rodney has grown into something none of us could have imagined.

We’ve been collectively creating and producing new designs for about a year now which, on the scale of our inspirations, is a small amount of time. Despite the fact that we’re young in the business, we’ve faced our fair share of hiccups and continue to do so – more on that later. Neither of us have an educational background in entrepreneurship (or a related field), which is one of the reasons why we consider this more of a project/learning experience than a full-on brand. We’ve taken the knowledge gained from being surrounded by the business, keeping our ear to the ground, and applying those lessons in our own practice.

Our main offerings at Rodneyshop.com are lapel pins and apparel. With any retail space (whether physical through a POS or available as an ecommerce platform), you have to be able to manage, calculate, and maintain a profit margin that works for your business. For example, our accounting team sees a decline in our profits each time we drop a collection. However, due to our marketing strategy, this works in our favour. We cut into a portion of our profits to offer promotional product for our supporters as, at our core, we believe that having our support system decked out in Rodney product is only going to be helpful in the long run. Take this type of approach carefully by creating a promotional budget. Despite wanting everything to be free for your friends and family, you’ll have to draw the line somewhere – you’ve been warned. 🙂

Rodney would not have existed if it weren’t for the support of our clients, friends and family. But in this day and age, with all of the advancements of POS and e-commerce platforms, we’re able to showcase and manage Rodney to a worldwide audience – which is key. We currently use Shopify as our ecommerce service, and they have been nothing but helpful in the process.

Social Marketing is a key factor in our current generation and you can approach it in many ways. Although social marketing and digital media management platforms are generally free, using and organizing them effectively comes at a price. Basing our strategy off our favourite artists was our first step, executing it was a whole other obstacle. All of our product photography, web design, and digital marketing is done in-house. We’re currently working in the bedroom of one of our parents’ house and plan on doing so until it seems necessary to move. We’ve got no shame in working from home; we’re extremely blessed to have a space where we can be creative, experimental, and, not to mention, cut costs by not having to rent a retail/studio space. For budgeting purposes, this is also key.

We’ve been surrounded by like-minded individuals who share a passion for promoting their own work, and we couldn’t be here without them. The beginning of Summer ’16 (drake voice) started off on the right foot and we were given opportunities to showcase our project in physical environments. Our first pop up was an invitation from our close homie Gabriel Ting. We shared a space with two other artists (Ravin Wong and Faceyfitzroy) at Northern Contemporary. Rodney was next to nothing at this stage, but having a physical space to meet our supporters and be able to cultivate brand awareness was invaluable to our growth. Our second pop up was a huge success thanks to the support of Spellcvster and friends. It was held on Spadina and College and showcased various artists and local brands. Being surrounded by individuals who work for themselves was inspiring, to say the least – and being surrounded by our supporters in one room with music and good vibes flowing was refreshing and motivating. Taking those energies and directing them towards the growth of Rodney is the main pushing force for our future collections.

I mentioned that we had our fair share of hiccups along the way – one being the budgeting portion of creating; the other would be the production side. Regardless of what we learned we noticed that, when applied to real world interactions in the business of production, it’s tough to be fully prepared. Building a relationship with our production house has been a windy road. The individuals that work at production houses are normally there because they’re professionals: so ask them questions and don’t be afraid to look foolish. They are there to help you get the product you want. Our design team made a few bad assumptions, which lead to final products and whole batches turning out to be nothing like the proposed artwork. We’ve taken a few losses due to bad batches of product we were not proud to showcase, but learned that if you’re not sure, always ask. Measure twice, cut once.

I’d like to inform the reader that Rodney has all been done by one person. Rodney is not a collective of individuals with departments and different levels of management, despite the way this story reads. I am passionate and love everything about what I do. I make time for what I love, despite life seeming to throw me left and right. All I can say is to work on your ideas, work on who you are, and work on who you want to be – then apply this to your business.

Are you a vendor who’d also like to share your story? Email us at hello@makeyourmarket.ca!

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