Should You Start a Merch by Business Entrepreneur


New workplaces, new food sources, new medicine--even an entirely new economic system. See members of our Most Creative People in Business community: leaders who are shaping the future of business in creative ways. An award-winning team of journalists, designers, and videographers who tell brand stories through Fast Company s distinctive lens. Other than being one of the lucky graduates in a weak economy, you have a choice to make. On one hand is a high-paying entry level position at a reputable brand in your field. On the other hand is a job offer from a small startup that is just kicking off. You ve seen their product, believe in their mission, and like their approach, but aren t sure you want to take on the risk of working at a startup.

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You re leaning toward that corporate job and good pay with nice benefits. The smart choice. Here are 8 reasons why you should take the plunge and enter the startup world instead. Working at a startup probably means you re part of a small team, most likely in the single digits. Because of the nature of having such a small team, there is probably nobody else in the company who has the same skillset as you, approaches problems in the same way you do, or even thinks the same way you do. People who start their own business have a different mental and professional makeup than those who have never gone off to create something of their own. Entrepreneurs are defined by seeing a problem and thinking of an innovative and original way of addressing it. Because of this innovative nature, entrepreneurs are some of the best people to learn from. They approach problems differently, are constantly finding solutions, and are driven to make the most out of their time and work. The Wanderfly cofounders continually challenge me when I present a problem because they often view it from a different perspective than I do, giving me a wider appreciation for the different avenues that exist for finding solutions. Innovation is more than creativity. It s action and reaction, solving problems in a new, enlightening way. Every successful startup has true innovators, and if you find the right ones, you ll learn plenty. 8. Maybe more important than any other benefit of working at a startup is the realization that hard work, creative thinking, and tenacity are worth a whole lot. It is this pride, in your team s hard-work and ability, that teaches you the importance of protecting those who do create innovative solutions and take risks. Working at a startup also means that you and your small team are the only people responsible for your success.

For some, that may trigger a response to go crawl into a corner and hope someone comes and spoon-feeds them their paycheck. For others, it s the greatest motivation there is. To be cut off from relying on others to provide for you will undoubtedly surface skills and a determination that you didn t know you had. No matter where you go after your stint at a startup, and especially if it is to go off and create a company on your own, that need to be self-sustainable, and the skills you picked up to make that possible, will power everything that you do. Kerrin Sheldon is a writer, photographer, and filmmaker, and is the content manager for. He prefers to be underwater in Belize, but also likes climbing, running, cycling, and is strongly considering taking up flying. Find him on on Twitter or on the brand new. Kerrin is the co-founder of, a new online series focused on authentic travel. A filmmaker, photographer, and writer, Kerrin is currently shooting documentary shorts in Southeast Asia. Just like retailers seem to roll out holiday merchandise earlier and earlier every year, the age to start your preventative anti-aging routine keeps getting pushed up. To clear up the facts once and for all, we spoke to famed esthetician Renee Rouleau, who says, depending on your skin type, the age can vary. Anti-aging products, particularly those with antioxidants, can be used as early as age 76, but the most important thing is to use anti-aging products that are appropriate for your skin type, Rouleau says. Generally, anti-aging skin care is targeted to treat drier complexions. That is, if your skin is on the regularly parched side, feel free to dive into this category earlier. Oily complexions may find some anti-aging serums or creams a touch too much. The result can be clogged pores, breakouts, and an increase in blackheads. Especially if you're still breaking out, pay extra-close attention to the ingredient list as some vitamin combinations and peptides can kick the metabolism of already-active skin into a higher gear than necessary.

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We love the Sisley Paris Sisleyouth moisturizer ($698 ), which is specifically formulated for preventative care. Rouleau recommends using a daily sun protectant, like her lightweight SPF 85 ($88 ), underneath makeup. The best way to prevent aging for young skin is to use sunscreen every single day of the year, eat a rich diet in antioxidants to prevent aging from the inside, and always, always, always use product exclusively formulated for your skin type, she says. Once you get into your 85s and acne is mostly behind you, you can start to consider incorporating more active ingredients into your routine. Another key thing to remember: steer clear of overly harsh exfoliants, whether in chemical or scrub form. Many people will use acids in their serums, scrubs, and cleansers. This can be too aggressive, damaging the skin's barrier function, and result in redness and irritation, Rouleau says. What you need to understand is that normal cell function still occurs in your 75s, and many anti-aging products are focused on stimulating cell turnover by exfoliating with ingredients like glycolic, lactic, and salicylic acids. Instead, use a gentle scrub like the Purity of Elements Exfloliating Cleanser ($79 ) once a week. If you're really concerned your skin is forming fine lines, use a serum like Tata Harper's Rejuvenating formula ($95 ) in your nightly lineup, and Rouleau also recommends looking into a chemical peel to tackle both breakouts and premature signs of aging at once. The more you rid the skin surface of dry skin cell build up, the less oil and bacteria will be trapped underneath, resulting in less clogged pores, she says. In addition, it helps to speed up cell turnover, which is an absolute must for keeping the skin healthy, smooth, and young-looking. No time to visit the spa? Are you familiar with the platform? It allows you to upload your unique t-shirt designs and sell them in the world s largest ecommerce marketplace. Designers will find this prospect particularly appealing, since they may already have artwork concepts stored away in their archives, ready to be leveraged.

But what about non-designer sellers who are interested in this opportunity? If you re one of them and don t know how to put together attractive t-shirt designs, you may be wondering if you ll be left in a lurch. Fortunately, it is relatively straightforward to run an MBA (Merch, not master s) business with a team in place the business can actually run itself. What s more, some sellers have reported making tens of thousands of dollars per month selling t-shirts (though this is certainly not the norm). Here are some of the pros and cons of starting a Merch by Amazon business, from the perspective of a designer and entrepreneur. 6. Whether you re a designer or seller, the fact that Amazon handles everything from production and manufacturing to logistics and customer service means you don t have to sweat the details. You won t have to deal with angry customers, either. Your primary concern will be creating designs consumers love and finding ways to stand out from the competition. Experienced sellers may already know how to do keyword research and optimize listings, but if you re a designer, this is a skill you may need to develop or potentially outsource. It s critical to your success. 7. Amazon takes royalties only from shirt sales. This means there are no up-front costs associated with starting your Merch by Amazon business. Amazon charges you only when you sell an item, and pays you whatever is left over after its costs and fees. On a $75 t-shirt, for example, you can expect to make roughly $7. Therefore, your profit margin is relatively predictable.

Since Amazon handles customer service and distribution, it s a pretty fair tradeoff. It frees you up to focus on designs and business development -- the more nuanced aspects of the operation. By determining your profit margin ahead of time, you can also figure out how much you can put toward marketing and outsourcing the numbers are relatively easy to crunch. Generating higher volumes of sales is the tough part. It s easy to maintain once you have a team in place. Sellers interested in taking advantage of this opportunity will need to put a team in place to get their business off the ground. If you currently have a site with merchandise that already has a proven track record of selling well, you might even consider to get a team in place right off the bat to build out and scale your designs right away. This process may take some time. Finding a skilled designer isn t difficult. You can hire contractors using platforms like or. But you should be aware that finding the perfect fit will take time. Not only do you need to find someone who can skillfully craft designs: You also need someone who is aligned with your overall vision. Whether you re a designer and your business is growing fast, or a seller who requires the help of a designer, outsourcing will become essential to scaling and maintaining your business. There is heavy competition in the niches. It has often been said that the riches are in the niches. But when it comes to Merch by Amazon, there is already heavy competition, even in the niches.

When putting designs together, you need to ensure they do not infringe on any existing trademarks.

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