What Does It Cost to Start a Brand?

What Does It Cost to Start a Brand?

Yo, it's Nolan, opening up about the emotional cost of entrepreneurship and taking the massive risk of quitting my job and starting a clothing brand.

Almost 2 years ago, I wrote a post about John McEnroe. It read “I think sports need more McEnroes. The fierce focus, passion and preparation needed to compete at the highest level is often overlooked by observers. Expression of emotion is customarily met with criticism instead of understanding or praise. Shielding us from the mental strain and fortitude of athletes doesn’t help humanity prosper, it only further increases the challenges of understanding and accepting our own internal monologue.

In that vein, I want to open up about the emotional highs and lows that have come with starting Transparent Hotel. First and foremost, this is currently my full-time job. I’m the only employee, and this project is entirely self-funded. I’ve sold every stock, bond, and asset I owned. I’ve emptied my savings account and taken on loans. I left my lucrative career to move home and dive into this project without any clear path forward or prior experience. To say this has all been immensely stressful would be an understatement. 

This first collection is emblematic of all the mistakes and all of the learnings I’ve encountered thus far. I made incorrect assumptions that left me with more inventory than I’m comfortable holding. I underestimated shipping costs and tariffs leaving me extremely financially exposed. I missed deadlines that pushed back this release for months. And I sit here today wildly nervous that the excitement and demand for my products won’t be there and I’ll get stuck with everything.

But the product is fucking gorgeous. And I’ve overcome so many financial, technical, and emotional roadblocks to get the product to this point of near absolute perfection. This line is the result of years of obsession, research and trials. I’m incredibly proud to have these pieces be the physical manifestation of my journey thus far. And if this all goes belly up and I never design another collection, I’ll take solace in knowing that I built something exactly the way I wanted to.

Thank you to everyone who has helped me get this far. Let’s go sell a million shirts so we can keep doing this forever.