It all started, December 2012...
We started planning RWB, well, me. The owner, Jake. Everything got rolling in 2012 with our first order coming in February of 2013. Our first shirt, it was the AR Owner shirt. No longer on the site, but I'm sure you'll find them out there as other brands were "inspired" by our design and made their own.
As we started adding a few other designs, orders began to start rolling in. As few and far between as they were, we needed to start thinking about fulfillment. We grabbed two rubbermaid tubs, a printer, and were in business! Our Lakewood, OH attic became the official HQ of Red White Blue Apparel.
We started looking for a local printer, someone we could build a relationship with as we grow. The way we were doing things took longer than they should and our shirts often times arrived with the box broken open and damaged. We met a small group down the street who ended up playing a big part in our growth over the coming years.
One of the first shirts they printed for us, "What I Stand For", was a huge success. It was our first game changer we experienced as a company. Order frequency soon became daily, inventory needs changed, and space started to become an issue.
Shortly after, my wife and I bought a house. RWB got upgraded to a spare bedroom. We had actual shelves now, a scale, and label printers. I'd come home from work, get a lift in, have some dinner, then pack orders until 1 or 2 in the morning. After a year, this started getting overwhelming as RWB was growing more and more with every design we added to the site.
Our print shop soon offered to bring all our inventory in house and pack our orders for us. This became the second big game changer that helped mold our brand going forward. They now would print, receive, stock, and fulfill orders. It was a hard move mentally, giving up your "baby" to someone else. It was the right move though, I was able to spend more time on growing the brand.
In 2016, we came up with a design that changed everything. The vintage truck collection. It was our first shirt that spoke volumes, without a word printed on the shirt. The Ford dent side, Chevy square body, and old school CJ Jeep, all flying Old Glory. The good side of a popular design, well, its growth. The downside, all the copiers come out of the wood work.
Well, things were growing, flowing, and moving along. 2017 and 2018 saw amazing growth. Growth like that keeps you going. Keeps you motivated.
We linked up with solid American made hat shop and an American cut & sew shop. They helped us bring to life our line of women's lounge shorts, sweatpants, and American made hats. All which would end up becoming the foundation for years to come.
One major game changer, the development of our Range Hat. We built this hat from the ground up, exactly how we wanted it, and we did it here in America. Built for shooters, the Range Hat offered a crisp fit, pulled down nice to the head, used fabrics that withstood the elements, and ditched that button on top. We focused our efforts into the parts of the hat that matter, not flashy branded taping with logos everywhere. We also gave you a sweatband that isn't thick and bulky, wicks away moisture, and feels great on your forehead.
THEN CAME COVID
In March of 2020, things got crazy. Our print shop who also housed and fulfilled our orders, gave us a heads up that the governor of Ohio was going to shut down businesses. I refused to close my company. No governor is going to sit on TV and tell me whether or not I can provide for my family, because at this point, I've been all in on RWB since 2017. There was no backup plan.
We borrowed a trailer, made three trips, and moved the entire company into a basement. For the next 4 months, I personally packed orders day and night. We had apparel overflowing to every room in our house. It was crazy, but it was well needed. I was able to "get back in touch" with this side of the business, which would lead to another huge move to come. After our world finally got a little sense and realized closing society was insanity, we started looking at moving back out of the basement. We moved back to the old print shop, but we grew, a ton, and they couldn't handle us anymore. So we got outsourced.
We were moved to a facility west of us, and we instantly saw more mistakes, longer pack times, and bigger expenses. It wasn't sustainable. It forced us to make the next big move, which was a game changer once again.
We bought our own place. After some searching, we found a 6 acre plot with a 5K sq ft building. It worked perfectly. We got ourselves set up and planned the big move, in January of 2022. We now have a PACKED building, two bad ass employees, and are in complete control of every aspect of our company.
We believe the fulfillment process is a huge asset to any Ecommerce company. Our shop developed a system to where, even on the craziest weekends, we just don't get behind. There is a good chance that when you place an order with us, you'll see it get packed up just a few hours later. Of course, we don't work weekends, so we do play catch up on Mondays.
We'd go out there and say, you won't find another brand like us who gets your order out quicker. Being faster with very limited errors, has played a big part in our next steps.
Just a little bit about us.