2017 In Review
As tonight at midnight 2017 comes to an end it’s a perfect time to sit back and reflect on 2017 and look over the horizon for what is to come in 2018. This year was crazy from both a personal and a business. As many of you may or may not know this is only our 2nd full year in business, and with that comes many learning opportunities that you may or may not make the right decision. Being that it is just Bobby and myself (Josh) running this growing company out of my business it is very clear that we will take some miss-steps along the way. So, with us trying to be as transparent to our followers I thought I would outline those miss-steps and lay out what we are trying to do in 2018 to adjust.
The beginning of 2017 started out very strong for us as we took our momentum of 2016 first into the new year with our batting gloves. We felt our apparel was our weak spot and the gloves were our strong suit, so we would switch the focus from our batting gloves and put that into our apparel. So, we hired designers, reached out to friends, asked our followers to help design new baseball themed apparel for the 2017 season. We started out trying to make 10 designs for both men and women and eventually landed at around 5-6 designs each. We launched the new apparel around the end of February-Early March and it was very successful with the apparel being hard to keep in stock. The women’s apparel out sold the men by a 3:1 margin (I am telling you this for what came next in 2017).
While we were designing the apparel Bobby and I also thought we needed a “fresh” style of batting gloves. We kept getting people saying if you only had red or blue or green gloves we would order. Us being a small company we didn’t want to miss any order that we could get. So, we set out to launch our Version 2 batting gloves. We went a completely different direction on these and made these more traditional and not our interlocking design. We called these our pro grade designs (https://goo.gl/J8soGL). These also launched at the end of March-Early April and while the initial orders were strong they started to dwindle down compared to the orders we were still getting on our original designs.
So, with a very strong 1st quarter in the books, and our numbers looking like we were going to crush 2016 we felt very strong about our idea of focusing more on apparel. Looking at the numbers we saw how much more women’s apparel was moving than men’s and even on our batting gloves the women were buying those, so we thought let’s launch more women’s apparel. This is the 1st time where we lost focus on who we were as a company. We got away from our roots and got greedy to be honest. We launched our everyday collection for both men and women but 2:1 products for the women. We felt very strong that the women who buy from us now will with no question buy our other apparel as why wouldn’t they. Well we were wrong, some did buy but a lot didn’t (we still have a lot in my basement lol). We were a little confused but assumed it was because we are a sports brand that had to be why no one really grabbed on to our everyday apparel line (another set up for what came next).
With so much attention and money going into this line we let our guard down on what people liked. We stopped designing new batting gloves (except the one pair Bobby designed that he tried to have us order but they were the ugliest/brightest gorilla gloves ever. Ask him about them, I think he still likes them lol) and not only that we let our guard down on our inventory control. With us being a small company cash flow is everything and with so much tied up in our new everyday line we had to pick and choose what to and what to let go in inventory. This didn’t hurt us in quarter 2 but killed us in quarter 3.
With basically a few sporadic gloves in stock to begin Q3 we had to dig deeper than we wanted to and order a big supply of gloves. With gloves being out of stock we really had to push the apparel we had to be able to afford the glove order (not a good spot to be in if you want to know), but one thing about Bobby and myself is we are hustlers. We went to shows, tournaments, started selling on Etsy and really pushed our apparel and sold more in Q3 than in the launch in Q2. Not wanting to let the apparel thing go as we had success in the beginning we set out to launch our football line for both men and women. So, we did the same thing we did in the beginning of the everyday launch and in a few weeks had a new line ready for launch (https://goo.gl/qfamhW). We launched this line and we had 2 reorders and couldn’t keep it on the shelf, to begin with. Then it didn’t just slowly turn down it dies completely. So, in all this wasn’t a failure but took our focus off what we were again.
But one WONDERFUL thing happened this quarter. With a focus on finding a few new manufactures so we were at their mercy one of them send us a sample of a fresh style of grip. One at first, I hated, and Bobby loved. I am the one that is 1,000,000% anal on our gloves and don’t want to change them at all because the quality. With the urging on Bobby and doing a ton of quality control on samples and having them remade by the new manufacture, then our current supplier we both were happy with the design but more importantly the quality. This brought our focus back to where it needed to be.
So, unlike all our other designs we would presale we decided not to on this one. To be honest I don’t really know why but we both felt like it wouldn’t feel right. In the middle of Q4 we launch our new grip batting gloves (https://goo.gl/aTKv1f) and they were a huge HOMERUN!! (I want to say I know I am leaving our company exposed writing this as other companies follow us, and I know personally 3 owners of other competitors follow us but I don’t care, I want to be honest with our followers. I don’t know why I wanted to put this in this spot, but I do) We quickly sold out of all 4 designs we launch this with and had to make a reorder. And for the first time in a long time we designed new styles. We launched our Softballer Batting Glove (https://goo.gl/ZbBya9) and our Black Flag Batting Glove (https://goo.gl/1Dax9L) both have which have been very successful. So, we have more on order plus all our originals back on order as with the new launch we sold all our batting gloves again. We ended 2017 where we ended 2016 at, back on focus.
The summary 2017 was a roller coaster. As for the numbers we grew, and unlike most other companies I will tell you. We grew 32.68% this year. We had ups with our baseball apparel line and downs with our everyday apparel line, we had straight lines with our football apparel line and more highs with our new gloves. So, at the end of the day being our 2nd full year in business it is what to be expected I would guess.
Now the FUN Stuff…
What’s to come in 2018
So, we are going to launch new apparel… this isn’t a joke but the apparel we know, BASEBALL APPAREL!! We are back on focus and know what we are, we are a baseball company. In 2018 look for new batting gloves, bat grip, women’s baseball apparel, men’s baseball apparel, and for the first time kids baseball apparel because at the end of the day a leopard can’t change it’s spots and the spots on Clutch have seams on them.
From the bottom of our hearts Bobby and I want to thank you for everything. You have no idea how much each everyone of you mean to us. We know everyone of you more than likely had a rollercoaster 2017 like we did because that’s how life goes, but we want to say hang in there and be strong and make 2018 great.
Happy New Year!!!
Josh & Bobbby