Russell Crooms, Founder and CEO of Animated Apparel Company joins the conversation to share how gaming sparked his interest to start an apparel company, building your brand and community, and his advice for people who are fresh in the e-commerce business.
Animated Apparel Company takes apparel to the next level by offering a wide selection of high-quality and affordable apparel products from famous comics, video games, television series, movies, cartoons, and even anime!
From Insurance Agent to CEO
Russell was doing well as an insurance agent until he got to the point of boredom. He researched money-making opportunities as an additional income and to build a business – he stumbled across e-commerce.
He wanted to do something fun that would excite him to move forward every single day. Russell was playing the game Halo, and it sparked to him if he centered his business around video games. He started selling merch and from there, developed his brand through tons of trials and errors—from video games to various digital content like movies, television shows, etc.
A brand is not the Logo
Russell found out that the recipe for success is to build your brand. A brand is not necessarily a logo, but the emotion people get from it. He made his brand as a specialist – a niche compared to other competitors. His brand ensures you will find what you need since the people who created the brand are fans like the customers—indicating how they know what people want and can converse relatable content.
Russell knew they had competitions, but just in your niche and against general stores that sell the same products. It now boils down to focusing on your craft and be the best against others at it.
Advertisements and Community
Russell used several means of advertising his company being social media as one of the most significant contributors to its success. Twitter is the number one platform for his company. Paired with YouTube, they built a community where people can discuss anything related to their content created by his company.
He humored how someone asked him how he got customers despite having the same suppliers. Experimentation is everything. Russell’s marketing strategy is to “throw it against the wall, and see if it sticks.” They tried everything and noticed some avenues did well, and season mattered a lot for them. Whenever their customers are, Russell and his team are also there.
Advice for Newbies in E-Commerce
Russell advises trusting your instincts. He did not necessarily know how things would go out for his company’s success, but he had a vision where he wanted his company to go. Russell did everything other people said about advertising on social media but found out that building your audience organically is the best result. He recommends building your audience organically before spending tons of money on advertising.
Research what your audience is searching for, ergonomically tailor your website and naming your company appropriately. Do your best to build everything around the solution to their problems and pair it with a solid marketing partner.