Small Business Spotlight: Todd Shelton, @ToddSheltonUSA
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Who: Todd Shelton
What: American made men’s clothing brand
Where: Jersey City, NJ
How: Shelton was inspired at a young age to enter the fashion industry and start his own brand. His mother was a local seamstress who made the clothing that he designed for himself.
“In high school, I shopped from the J. Crew catalog, which at the time was catalog and phone orders only. I loved the lifestyle the catalog represented, loved calling someone to order, and loved getting a package in the mail,” says Shelton.
After college, Shelton moved to New York City with the mission to create his own brand. He enrolled at Parsons School of Design and took a job in the fashion industry, operating the brand in a beta-type form from 2002-2009.
“During these years I had product for sale and I was advancing my knowledge, but the stakes were not as high as a full-launch. This allowed me to learn and make mistakes without putting the brand’s future at risk,” says Shelton.
Biggest challenge: “Having a product made is not necessarily hard. Having a phenomenal product made exactly the way you want it, consistently, and deliverable on scale, is extremely hard. I went from off-shoring production, to re-shoring, to building my own factory. The factory created a sustainable solution because I control the supply chain,” says Shelton.
Road ahead: “I want to be recognized as the premier innovator of size and fit in fashion. A goal we can obtain because of our in-house manufacturing capabilities,” says Shelton.
Best business advice: Shelton advises that any entrepreneur looking to start a business should know every aspect of the industry.
“In the beginning, you’ll be optimistic, but then challenges and problems start revealing themselves, and no business is immune to problems. Play chess in your mind prior to launch, especially in areas that aren’t your specialty, ‘What move do I make if this happens, or if this doesn’t happen?’ Be prepared for the good, but be better prepared for the bad,” says Shelton.