With Tracy Rogerson
Episode 34 – All About Bling Business
Tracy Rogerson is an expert when it comes to the bling business. She’s been with ColDesi for almost 9 years, and a lot of that time has been selling bling machines. Some of the biggest changes she’s seen in the business?
- Prices have gone down – it used to be harder to get into the business.
- Because of the saturation of the market, she’s seeing fewer businesses, but those businesses that have remained, have grown (from one machine to multiple).
When Tracy started with Coldesi, the business didn’t have rhinestones, and now sells billions of them every year. And when she first started selling them, machines were $20-50,000. People were investing in these machines in a market that weren’t mature yet. Not a lot of custom apparel business where doing rhinestones, and the demand wasn’t there. Rhinestones also cost more, almost double what they are today.
When the businesses started selling the rhinestone apparel, they weren’t selling them for $75, they were still selling them for a reasonable market price, $25-35. So the return wasn’t as high. Now that the market is there the retail price for rhinestone t-shirts is still $25-35.
So the demand is now there, and because the cost of the Save & Exit equipment and the rhinestones has gone down, the ROI is higher, and it’s a great business to be in.
When the market was still new, and there weren’t a lot of businesses doing rhinestones, you didn’t necessarily need to be good in order to get business. But as the market grew and more custom apparel companies started doing rhinestones, the businesses that weren’t emphasizing quality faded out.
We want people to be excited about the bling business and about the stuff they’re doing right now.
If you had gotten into the bling business 6 years ago and had spent $50,000 on a machine, you needed to know the business, and what it took to make a business (in general) successful.
An example Tracy gave us, is that she had a customer whose daughter was in cheer and gymnastics and the family also owned another company where bling was “in”. Her business exploded to the point where she now has 4 of our 6P Rhinestone Machines. The last two weren’t as pricing, but she had to make a significant investment in the beginning. And to be able to grow from one machine to running 4 full-time – that’s success.
Embroidery is a need. You need to have the company t-shirt, or the team baseball cap. So because people need to buy it they are more likely to price shop and be reluctant to spend a lot of money.
Rhinestones is a want. But everyone wants them. It doesn’t matter if its cheer, or hockey, or dance, everyone wants to wear what they’re proud of. So it’s a want that people will spend money on.
The opportunity right now is that there’s a lot more awareness of bling. So a lot more people are looking. We talked about it before, Mark was at a hotel a little while ago and there were moms wearing t-shirts and jackets in support of their kids, all in bling, and some of them must have had upwards of $100 in bling clothing on. For parents who have kids in multiple sports, or multiple kids, if they’ve got one bling shirt, they’re likely to get bling shirts for all their kids and their sports.
It’s easier to get into the business for two reasons.
- The first we’ve already talked about, and that’s the lower costs.
- The second is that everyone knows what bling is. So people can equate a value to it.
People get into the rhinestone business for a couple of reasons:
- they’re creative, and want to make fun, beautiful things
- they had a need for it, and couldn’t find quality products
- they want something to do that will fit into their house
- it happens to be incredibly profitable
What are some different ways you can get into the business?
The least expensive way to get into the business is to do Glitter Vinyl. That will run you about $2,000 for a complete setup. The advantage to glitter vinyl is that you can put it on just about anything. It’s also quite easy to learn how to do.
The things that are going to determine how much it costs to get into the business is the type of bling you’re producing and how fast you can make it. Cost is affected by the cost of the t-shirt, the bling, and how much time it takes to make each individual garment. Glitter flock is pretty fast.
Using the brush and bake is a little bit more of a manual process. Then you get in the CAMS 1V-2P system which is a two color rhinestone machine. The benefit of one of these machines is that it frees you up to market your business while the machine is running. The machine puts the rhinestones on the transfer and then you can either sell the transfer or heat press them onto shirts, bags, etc.
Using a brush and bake system you may still be able to process the same ten shirts in an hour as with the heat press, but the difference is with what you’re doing that entire hour. While the rhinestone machine is printing, it may only take 5 minutes, but in that time you can also be replying to an email. Making a quick phone call to a customer. Updating your Facebook page. We say that automation is always the way to go if it’s reasonably affordable/within your budget and if not don’t let it stop you from getting started.
We had an example where a local church group had a basketball team, and they would have to order their shirts from the next town over, and it took a while for them to get in, there were cases where one of the shirts wouldn’t be in the order so the team would have to write on the kid’s shirts. And they’re a church group so they don’t have a lot of spare funds to purchase custom shirts. But what they came up with is that they could spend the couple thousand to get a vinyl machine to make the shirts themselves, and then also use the machine for fundraising as well.
That’s a great example of a need, turning into a business. And if you find yourself in a similar situation where there isn’t anyone in your town, so you’re ordering from another city, or the quality isn’t really there, chances are there are other people in your town, or social network who are in the same situation, and are looking for a better way to purchase their custom shirts. You can start to build your business from there, so even if you start with a vinyl system you could build it up, and then invest in an automated system later.
1V-2P vs. 1V-6P
The 1V-2P allows you to do 2 colors, while the 1V-6P can do 6 color designs. When choosing between these two machines it’s not just going to be about cost. There are other factors to take into consideration. The 1V-6P is quite a bit bigger, so it actually doesn’t fit though a regular door, so if you’re looking to build a home-based in your den, you’ll actually be able to get the 1V-2P through the door.
A lot of cheer mom t-shirts are often only done in two colors, so you’re not going to be missing out of a large market base. The 1V-2P is fast, quiet, portable (you could bring it to a show and do on demand blinging right there). A 1V-6P can be great for people who don’t have a niche yet, and don’t want to be limited. The size is larger so you can do more (smaller) designs at once.
The more complex a design as well, you could put it on a jacket back and sell it for $50-65. Another benefit of having the 1V-6P, if you have an embroidery machine, or DTG printer, you can add those rhinestones to your embroidery or printed shirts, and when you’re selling to a customer you can create an even more unique design, and sell them on that. The design becomes something only you can do because you have that variety.
Seeing is believing when it comes to spangles. When spangles first came on the market, Tracy was not confident – she’d been working with rhinestones for so long, that she just didn’t think the market needed them. However, the mark-up and profit potential on spangles is 4x that of rhinestones. Spangles are basically sequins without holes, so the light shines off them really beautifully.
When you’re looking at a rhinestone design and a spangle design for a distance it’s actually hard to tell the difference. It’s only when you get up close that you’ll see that spangles are flat. They’re also holographic, they’re soft to the touch, and their really light. You can get a really great quality bling look and you can put them on more things.
The new Spangle Elite runs under $10,000. It’s incredibly fast, at least 4x faster than rhinestones, so you can produce a lot of designs in a short period of time. You can go up to 3 colors in your design. There is also a 6 color Spangle machine – the ProSpangle. It does up to 1,000/spangles per minute and runs comfortably at about 800/minute. It’s a larger machine, so while you could take the Spangle Elite to a show, you likely wouldn’t want to do that with the ProSpangle.
The same thing will happen with spangles that will happen with rhinestones, you show a customer the potential their design has in all spangles or incorporating spangles, and you sell them on it, you’re going to have little to no competition. Because it’s more than likely that no one else is doing it.
Something you may want to try is going to SpangleElite.com and taking one of the pictures from there, and posting it on your Facebook page. Then saying “Hey I’m thinking about doing this. Would anyone be interested in a custom shirt like that?” Then just measure the response. It’s an easy business test.
We’ve got a lot of other blog posts to help you get into the business: how to find customers, building the right experience, and so on. If you’re excited about this idea, and not 100% sure about the business, you can give Tracy a call, and she can help you decide what is right for your business. And of course read our other blog posts, and listen to some podcasts to help you start a successful business. We believe you can do it.