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Matt Taylor's Toxic Ink Clothing on the Rise - page 2

By Jeff Ferrantino on February 28, 2006

Toxic Ink ClothingThe euphoria of that first order would quickly disappear when the original buyer was replaced by someone with less of an interest in Taylor and his designs. After much difficulty to secure an appointment with the new buyer, Taylor finally got the chance to meet the replacement.

"He quickly went through my shirts and said, 'No,'" Taylor remembers. "I thought to myself, I probably have another ten seconds here before I'm out the door. And I said, 'How did we do last time?' knowing that I had made the mark before. He had his book right there, flipped it open and said, 'Well OK, it looks like you did OK on the last couple of designs.' As soon as he said that, I said, 'Well if there were any designs here, which ones would you take?' And he went through and said, 'Well, OK, if I was going to take anything, I'd take this one and this one.' And I said, 'How many would you like?'"

With an order of 150 units for two of his designs, Taylor returned to his office to figure out how he was now going to carry out the order.

Within a week of his shirts being out on the floors, Taylor received a phone call from his new friend at Millers Outpost. He confirmed with Taylor that one of the shirts was taking off, so he wanted to order more.

On the very next day, his friend came calling again. He not only increased the previous order in size, but said that the other shirt was beginning to take off as well, and added an additional order for more units of the second design.

At the time, Taylor had just started with his own screenprinting machine, and was producing one-or-two color-printed shirts. He knew he could flip those pretty quick, and using white shirts with black ink kept his profit margins pretty high.

Just as he was getting started with the order, his phone rang again. His buyer was again wanted to increase the order on both designs.

Taylor borrowed the money to get the order done, and quickly became the golden child for his new friend. Unfortunately, the easy cruising came to a halt when Taylor was asked to return with some new designs.

"That's where my expertise was a little limited," he admits.

At the time, Taylor was the new kid on the block, and his competitors had closer relationships with Millers Outpost, which meant that the competitors started doing knock-offs when the buyer revealed to them that Taylor's designs were outselling theirs.

On the bright side, the order was enough to set Taylor up in business for about a year, so he started to do some research for future expansion. He came across a company by the name of Hot Topic, and decided to pursue them aggressively.

"It was really difficult to get to the buyer, so my plan was to shock them," Taylor says. "I wanted to send them stuff that they couldn't use, but I knew would get their attention. That's exactly what happened. I got a call back saying, 'We love your stuff, but we can't put it on our shelves.'"

Taylor soon resubmitted, received an order, and sold close to 30,000 pieces of one design, another single-color with white ink on a black T-shirt, which would set Taylor up for another year.

"The difference between the two markets was extreme," he says. "When I put my catalogue together for Millers Outpost, it was very surf-influenced. With Hot Topic, it was all gothic."