Fail Whale (Well)

Let me tell you a little story about a time when I failed.


texas-foreverSo I made this shirt a while back. It was fun. It was a way to say goodbye to one of my favorite tv shows, Friday Night Lights.

Clear Eyes*tear*

Anyway, I made this shirt to commemorate one of the best lines from the show. People expressed interest in it as a shirt. I ordered 100 shirts. I took it to an event. I sold maybe 2 of these shirts there.

What appeared like a floodgate of support was really a slow trickle of sales. I got some people to buy some over time, I gave some as Christmas presents (sorry, fam), and I got a good friend to sell some at events he was going to (Thanks, Marco.).

Long story short, I don’t have any more of those shirts, but I also didn’t really get any momentum on an idea that I thought was great (or at least popular). I also gave away enough shirts that I maybe broke even on the whole venture.

It was a failure.

And that’s okay. I’m really writing this so people know that I don’t really have answers to things. I’m not some super social media guy who sells stuff, makes bank, and has steak sauce ideas (extra points for getting that reference).

steak sauce

But you can learn stuff from failure:

  • I learned that I’m not a salesman. I can’t really influence people to buy products I make.
  • I also learned that you have to remember your upfront costs when considering ideas, and weighing your options based on that. Margins matter.
  • I also learned that I’m not cut out to make shirts as a retail option. I can design stuff, but selling them is hard work, and there are other people who are way more equipped to handle it.
  • Finally, I learned that I don’t have to be good at everything and that not every idea should be done just because it’s fun or ‘cool’ or ‘good’.

It’s okay to fail. But fail whale (well), and learn from it.

fail whale


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