We may receive commissions for affiliate links included in this article. This is a sponsored post. Future Sharks makes no warranties about the statements, facts and/or claims made on this article. These are the opinions of the author. Read our advertising and contributor disclosure here.
Jonathan Brown, 26, and Christian Cardenas, 19, explain how they raked in over $100,000 in a matter of weeks selling Christmas themed sweaters.
City where you’re from:
Jonathan: Myrtle Beach, SC
Christian: Brownsville, TX
Jonathan: Powerlifting, traveling and content creation
Christian: Design, traveling, petting puppies
Jonathan: “If you’re not making someone else’s life better, then you’re wasting your time. Your life will become better by making other lives better.” Will Smith
Christian: “Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.” Jonathan Swift
How did you guys meet? How did you come up with the idea for the sweaters?
Johnny and I met about two years ago via Twitter. Shortly after our first call, we started exchanging services and networking regularly. He invited me to Myrtle Beach throughout the year but there were always scheduling conflicts that delayed the trip. It wasn’t until I was moving from Portland, Oregon, wondering where I wanted to live next, that I took his latest invitation to meetup seriously.
Within the first few days, we quickly noticed that our mindsets and talents harmonised perfectly. It led to the idea of us living together and utilizing our opposing skill sets to create one hell of a dynamic duo, and that’s exactly what we did. A week later I moved from the west coast to the east coast and between the two of us we had everything needed to build an ecommerce empire in record time.
Fast forward 6 months, in early August as we finished building one of the biggest women’s swimwear brands, he pitched me the christmas sweater idea during a late night gym sesh. I was instantly on board and we began brainstorming later that week. He promised me if I moved to South Carolina that he’d change my life forever, and well he was right.
How do you creatively advertise?
Influencer marketing is the driving force behind our success. We work with hundreds of influencers each day to generate leads for our brand. We strive to work with individuals whose follower demographic correlates with our own, as well as parody accounts with predominantly female followers. Working with parody accounts can be tricky, seeing as the traffic is (in most cases) extremely untargeted. It’s imperative to know your target audience before assuming the risk of buying ad space from parody accounts, especially if you’re expecting an immediate return on investment. If you’re a store owner or aspiring store owner, make sure you have a means of collecting customer data in place prior to working with these types of influencers. Data is priceless.
How is your company different?
In order for a product and/or brand to become successful in this day in age, you either have to be extremely innovative and bring something unique to the market that people have yet to see or, you simply take what others are doing, and make it 10x better; well that’s what we did. We surely weren’t the first people to create funny christmas sweaters with memes, movie references, or sexual holiday humor plastered all over them, not by a longshot.
Though one thing we did notice was that the people and stores doing it in our scene all had two things in common: They were lazy and weren’t willing to invest good time and/or money to create an actual BRAND as opposed to a little dropshipping gig. We wanted to be the last store to launch so that we could see everybody else’s cards and what they were doing. Slowly but surely there was a new sweater store popping up every week and it was exactly what we expected, they either had quality designs in a small quantity or a metric ton of cheap procrastinated designs.
Meanwhile, we had been working and designing under the same roof 5 months prior to our launch ensuring that we would not only have the best designs, but the most amount of designs/options that catered to every type of genre/style of person that saw our ads, thus astronomically increasing our conversion rate. Execution. This was the simple reason why we were the last store standing in our community.
What do you think you do better than most people?
Christian: Branding. It’s what I do best and have so for the last 3-4 years. It’s where it all started for me. Creating cultivating brand identities that help an individual, product, and/or business move culture and inspire emotion via design.
Johnny: Social Media Marketing. Nothing is more satisfying than taking a new product or struggling brand from the shadows to the spotlight of 100,000,000+ people in a matter of days.
What should an entrepreneur focus on?
Becoming the best possible version of themselves. In this day in age, with social media being the forefront of our lives, it’s easy to get caught up in the drive for monetary success and how you portray yourself on social media to your peers. Sure, having monetary goals and checkpoints throughout your journey is important, but you gotta make sure that you fall in love with the game of entrepreneurship first, not just the idea of the result. If you don’t find a love for the game, a love for creating, a love for the blood, sweat, and tears or a love for something other than just exotic cars and foreign snapchat filters, then you might not be ready for the immense amount of sacrifice that comes with entrepreneurship.
Nothing can prepare you for it either, the only teacher here is experience and failing forward. Trust us, we’ve both gone through a rough patch at one point in our lives, Johnny in the past and me throughout the year of 2017 specifically. What we can say from our experience is focus on your Why, focus on the game and most importantly focus on bettering yourself everyday. The results won’t come overnight, but with an immense amount of passion, dedication, consistency and diligence, everything you ever wanted will come to fruition.
What is the best book you’ve ever read?
Christian: Think & Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill is basically my bible. I’ve easily read this book over a dozen times throughout the last couple years and have always walked away with something new each time. This book easily laid the foundation to the mindset I was able to develop at such a young age that allowed me to pave the path in which I stride on today. I recommend this to anybody just getting into entrepreneurship or even seasoned veterans in field.
Johnny: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck. No explanation needed.
Where do you see yourself and your brand in a couple years?
The plan is to have our brand bring something different and innovative to the table each and every holiday season to come. We tested the waters in 2017, got a feel for how the market responded to our product, and now it’s time to scale hard. Evolve. We both have businesses, stores and passion projects on the side that take up the majority of our time, especially the first 3 quarters of the year, but we may or may not be in the talks of turning this brand into a year-round venture rather than just a Christmas exclusive.