Yep. I've decided to take the plunge and open a stand-alone, print-on-demand, dropshipping online store, a site with its own name and url that is independent of this blog. This involves a crazy amount of work, of course; not only determining the store's structure and design/appearance, but also creating the items for sale in the store. I have to build it, paint it, decorate it, and stock the shelves, so to speak. I've decided to focus on Hawaiian shirts, bucket hats, and umbrellas.
There is so much I could say about this whole process and the endless choices it involves, but, as usual, I am cramming the writing of this update into my morning while the family still sleeps. These days, that early morning time between around 3:30 and 6:30 (depending on when Rowan, our youngest, wakes up) is pretty much all I get to work on this stuff, because I am usually working a paint job from 10:00 to 2:00 while Rowan is in school. This job is fantastic, one of the best I've had, so that helps the transition back into working life a lot.
Here are some of the choices and issues I'm dealing with:
The name. At present, the store is called "The Next Big Left" for a couple of reasons that aren't good enough to keep it. I've been mulling this matter over for over two weeks and still haven't come up with anything satisfactory. I'm pretty decided on using an octopus for my logo and branding, so perhaps the name will relate to that. I don't know yet.
The print-on-demand/dropshipping provider. Man, this is a tough one. So much of this decision hinges on the quality of the products and the quality of customer service, but I can't really know those things until I order some examples. I can't do that until I have a little extra cash, and that is not in supply at the moment due to just getting over Covid for two weeks. It will happen, though, now that I am back at work. Oh yeah, and gas is at 216.9 a liter, with all the inflationary crap that entails. Life is more expensive than usual now and for the foreseeable. I have my eye on three companies right now, each with pros and cons in terms of what I currently know about them. These are HugePOD, InterestPrint, and Printify. Only InterestPrint makes all of the products I want to offer, so to stock the shelves for appearance's sake if nothing else, I am using their design interface and subsequent mock ups.
The style and appearance of the mock-ups/previews of the products. All of the companies I'm considering produce mock-ups with a white background. I can devise templates that would let me drop in an image behind the product in question. Doing so would make them a lot more appealing. A lot of extra work, though.
The issue of transgender people. The umbrellas and bucket hats come in only one style, but InterestPrint offers both a men's and women's Hawaiian shirt. I would like to offer both but don't know what to do about those gender labels. In this case, "men" and "women" describes a cut and fit of the shirt, but who am I to say who wears what cut?
Ok, gotta get the ball rolling this morning. Here are some screen grabs from the new site:
Top of the Home Page, with the Design Styles drop-down menu activated. You can select the Aloha Alternative, Abstractions, or SW BC design style in all products.
Again, top of the Home Page, this time with the Products drop-down menu selected, showing that you can choose Hawaiian shirts, Bucket Hats, or Umbrellas in all design styles.
Still at the top of the Home Page with the Collections drop-down menu activated. A collection is the intersection of a product and a design style.
Near the bottom of the Home Page, with a gallery layout of all the Collections.
An example of one of the Collection pages.
An example of the Design Style page.