What would it take to make Rhetorical Factory a success?
Is something people often ask me, and the answer only comes in the form of more questions:
What is Success?
From the moment I set out to create Rhetorical Factory it has been successful. With a three-part mission statement I really have always felt that whatever I am learning and doing here is worth while. I am learning about business, being creative, and making waste into a resource. That has always felt like success, even when that meant sacrificing personal comforts. Possibly even especially then.
What is Financial Success?
Since we opened the flagship store last year, we have re-purposed roughly 1,500 garments. That is so much more than ever before, more than in the entire 4 years spent in the Studio. But the expansion itself came at a high cost, plus we experimented with employees. So while we haven't a profit yet, I feel like we have had financial success and are on track to sell enough recycled clothes to pay the bills year-round.
What about "Blowing Up" "Going Viral" or "Becoming Mainstream"?
Now this is a little difficult to explain so I'll keep it short. Rhetorical Factory is based in a different paradigm., a different world of values. One-of-a-kind clothing is sold to all sorts of people, all seeking something ethical and unique for themselves. That experience is impossible to mass-produce. The awakening that has to happen to someone before they are looking for a store like Rhetorical Factory already takes them out of the "rat race" "keeping up with the Jones'" and the competitive angle that our popular culture feeds on. By the time Rhetorical Factory "blows up" this world will have changed so much that success won't look the same any more.
Rhetorical Factory is a business built on individual conversations, experiences and interactions. The years spent at festivals provided solid ground, and while I now do the same thing from the store every day the work is very similar. Each sale is much more about the question mark that goes out with the shirt than the shirt or the print itself. We need to have the conversations to get people looking for art and authenticity in everything, if those of use who have started business in our futuristic paradigms are to succeed.
So this brings me to a challenge for you: Start the conversation. Share the mission of Rhetorical Factory with someone you know who is still not recycling, putting healthy ideas, food and images into their body. Do it in a positive way, don't point out how they aren't a part of this way of thinking. Encourage them to take an opportunity to support something ethical, local, and artistic. If you bring them into the store I will give you both 25% off and a $10 gift card for your next visit. Just mention this blog post. The idea is that one great experience with a business outside the mainstream could be all it takes to awaken the earth's next advocate.
Feel free to share your questions and your own journey!