SandiLake has officially been open for business for 2 years! It's insane! I'm Mel, the owner, and manufacturer of this small business! This post is going to be my real thoughts and real feelings on how we came about and the ebb and flow since 2014.
It all started with two moms (My friend Gwenie and I), staying at home with our 2 kids while our husbands provided for our families. We were 26ish at the time, and having playdates left and right due to our close living proximity. It was on one of those playdates that the ideas started moving. This was back when leggings and moccasins were all the rage on Etsy, and we both loved them. However, it was hard to buy rad tribal looking leggings when all we had was t-shirts with trucks on them or hot pink princess designs. And that is where the juices started flowing. We had never screen-printed before, but for some reason it made sense for us make these tees ourselves... A make-as-ordered site. I believe we had a combined equal investment of about $2K. We bought a screen printing package from Ryonet, and purchased our first wholesale order of tees through American Apparel. We started small and cautious. I had the computer software skills, and Gwenie had some great design ideas. Together we created around 8 designs to be our start-up look. Modern, Fresh, and Simple. They were tees we wanted our kids to wear. - We watched screen-printing tutorials, made our first tees, had a crazy photoshoot, and completed our website RIGHT (hours) before opening. (By the way, Etsy is incredibly user friendly and EASY!)
That first day we had over 2,000 views and 6 orders. We were on cloud 9! Even though we knew every person that ordered that day personally, it was still something from nothing... and we were proud. Each day as we fulfilled orders, we built our business on providing great customer service and offering fun, new designs. All of a sudden, our #Merica Flag design started selling like crazy. Before we knew it, it was the hottest item for that Fourth of July! The next was our Tribal Elk for the Holidays! We had paid off our initial investment, and kept working our butts off to grow and move forward.
At the end of that Christmas, Gwenie and I split ways, and SandiLake became just my thing. I haven't shared much about this, because it was hard, and still is... SandiLake started from the two of us, and even though I was ready to keep going on my own, we were a great team. I'm incredibly thankful for her and everything we did together.
The year of 2015 brought on a new website (www.sandilakeclothing.com), a ton of new shirt designs, a direct to garment printer, and much more as I switched gears. From here on out, it was my husband (Dan) and I. -- It wasn't long after that all chaos broke loose.
In May 2015, we had found out that Target had copied one of our original designs. The #MERICA tank top. It was a blur of lawyers, large corporations, news stations, and more orders than I ever imagined I could fulfill on my own. I was sick to my stomach and excited all at the same time. I watch the Today Show every day, and the moment I got to live-skype with them was one of the most exciting days of my life! (You can read more on what happened HERE.) In this moment, we knew we were changed for good. We fulfilled every order as fast as we could, and made sure our customer service never dwindled. We brought in SO many amazing people to help us, and man, it was a whirl-wind. Once the 10 seconds of fame faded, we went back to business as usual.
In the last year, we have brought in new products, learned new skills, and grown in our knowledge of what it really takes to be a sustaining small business. We are in over 20 boutiques all over the world, markets all over the Northwest, and have some very exciting things up our sleeves coming up.
I get to be home with my babies, be a wife, but also be a person working hard to contribute to this world. Working hard every day has been fulfilling in more ways than I can describe. We used to make shirts literally all night... Now that my littles are getting older, I try to stick to days. I'm proud that my girls are watching their parents work hard and "play hard" as cliche as that sounds. Every day is something new, and I am incredibly stoked on the love and support our customers and family have given us. SandiLake is made up of SO many people doing SO much! Every day isn't always perfect, but owning my own business and doing something I love with my family an arm length away is simply incredible.
If you have any other questions about starting a new business or screen-printing, o want to open a wholesale account, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!