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  • by Christopher Cheong

Starting a company is never easy, believe me. Juggling your time will always be hard, no matter who you are. It can also be stressful and the last thing you need to worry about is if your product will come out right or even come at all. Dealing with, finding, and trusting suppliers you've never even met before can be a scary thing.

I have dealt with many people who were strangers to me, that claimed they were experts at what they do. Some met expectations, some exceeded, and some fell short. You will live and learn, but I can share a bit about how I started out.

When I first started BEARKID and wanted to get t-shirts printed, I had no clue where to begin. So I obviously asked the best, most knowledgeable person that I know; My mom. She did what any great mother would do, and said she could help when she really had no clue. A couple of days later she came back with a source she found through her workplace. I'm sure she literally just shouted "Who knows where to print t-shirts!?" and hoped that someone had an answer. I had no better leads myself so I decided to go along with this source and try it out. In the end, I learned a lot and the source helped me figure out what I needed and carried me through the process. What I also realized was that this source was a middle man. Now, if you're new and need a hand to walk you through unfamiliar territory, go this route, but expect to pay a slightly higher cost. If you want to avoid this extra cost (every dollar counts at this point), cut the middle man and find a direct supplier. The more direct you go, the cheaper your product will be.

After that experience, I decided to do my own research (Google) and find my own suppliers. Essentially, I became my own middle man. This is something I continue to practice, because I am too poor to afford to get someone else to do it for me. Fast forward 5 years, I am here today, still making mistakes and learning how things work.

I am currently working on a new strapback hat I had started late 2015. Last year I received the sample of the hat, you can see below for the image. When I eagerly smashed open the box to see how it turned out, well...Let's just say I was really let down. Because you have to mock up your design on a CAD drawing of a hat, it can be hard to communicate exactly what you're trying to achieve with the other person. That being said, I took a deep breath and contacted the supplier about my concerns. Without hesitation, they understood and agreed to fix it. Today I received the new picture sample (first picture) and I have to say, I am much happier.

So, the moral of this story is that you will make mistakes, you will be unhappy with things you make, but you will make it and you will do great things if you try. Also, your parents aren't always right, but at least they try.

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