I have told this story many times, and people often find it hard to believe that we launched www.themoneyteam.com with only two shirts and two hats yet still became a million-dollar brand six months later. I ended up deciding against launching a subscription platform, because I noticed that even though Floyd’s Instagram account had 2.2 million followers when we first started, engagement was quite low. Rather than sacrifice a number of designs by making them limited in a subscription model, I thought it would be wiser to test the waters first with four SKUs (stock keeping units).
Contrary to what many people think, I never asked Floyd for a penny to start the business, or at any point during the business. The business was all self-funded and self-sustaining. 100% of our initial revenue was from online sales, and we were cash flow positive in the first thirty days of business.
Before we launched, I had flown to New York to review shirt samples with Floyd. We were supposed to meet in LA, but he called me at 6am and apologized for the change in plans. I said no problem; I’ll take the next flight to New York to meet with you. I wasn’t going to sit around and wait until he returned to Los Angeles or Las Vegas. There was money to be made, and if I needed to fly across the country to review samples with my business partner, then that’s what I did. We could have Facetimed or I could have texted him photos, but it was too early in the relationship for such impersonal communication. I needed to demonstrate my commitment to the brand above anything else, and that’s what I did.
It was 2am at the W Hotel in Times Square when he called me and I went to his suite with a bunch of samples. I laid them all out on the ground and we went through each design one by one. It was obvious the man cared about every detail, and that made me more passionate about what we were building. He had selected four shirts, and he suggested that I add red and blue to the MONEY POWER RESPECT shirt, which I had originally created with an all black print on a white t-shirt. Easy fix, and I had no creative pride about the designs. Everything was open for discussion, and besides, we were still getting to know each other.
I flew back to LA and started working on production. We ran into a couple production issues; sometimes samples are made, yet when it’s time to go into production, you discover problems when producing in greater quantities. In this particular case, there was the risk of having a low yield rate, which means a high percentage of defects. In the end, to avoid problems, I switched up the mix to present a “combo” offering that consisted of a matching shirt and hat. From my market research, I didn’t see any street wear brands creating matching products, so I figured that doing so would be a good point of distinction for our brand. Once I had final production samples for the two shirts and two hats, I flew to Vegas to show Floyd. We were at the Big Boy Mansion at 5am when he put on the gear and took photos in the matching shirts and hats. His assistant snapped the pictures on an iPhone, and Floyd scrutinized each image. After a couple retakes, they were approved. We had two confirmed photos for launch, and that was all we needed to get the brand off the ground.
After we received the entire first production, it was as simple as texting Floyd the green light. He put up the pictures on his social media that night, and orders started coming in immediately. March 25th, 2013 marked the official beginning of our collaboration, nearly four months to the day from our initial meeting at the Palms café. The launch took longer than expected; there were many behind-the-scenes issues that I did not anticipate, but at this level you have to be ready for anything.