From the Vault: The Top Five Misconceptions About Starting an MMA Clothing Line

Sunday, July 11th, 2010 by Tony Reid

This was a piece I wrote exclusively for about a year after launching Reid Fight Wear.

“Tony Reid, owner of Reid Fight Wear, was nice enough to put together this article on “The Top Five Misconceptions About Starting an MMA Clothing Line”. With fashion in the MMA world popping up like wildfire, many people are taking their stab at making a clothing line. It ain’t easy and Tony lets us know what you might not know some of the pitfalls of the MMA clothing business.

The Top Five Misconceptions About Starting an MMA Clothing Line

Tony Reid
Special to The MMA Digest

1. You are going to become GSP’s new best friend- I have been fortunate enough to meet many fighters over the years. I have met many as a fan, some in a business context and even a few that I am lucky enough to call friends. Let me start by saying that I have met well over a hundred Mixed Martial Artists and I have not had one negative experience to date. That being said, there is a distinct difference from meeting a fighter as a fan and meeting a fighter in relation to a possible sponsorship opportunity. Do yourself a favor and don’t take this attention as anything other than a business transaction. If you have a the ability to help a person support their family, finance a home and other things of this nature I assure you that you will probably have that person’s undivided attention. I have been in a situation where the sponsorship money I paid a fighter (in the UFC) helped him pay his rent and get a place of his own. That was one of the best feelings I have had in my involvement in the sport. I have also been in a situation where I worked with a well known agent in the sport and my logo was slapped on guy after guy and there were times that the only way I knew I sponsored a particular fighter was by seeing pictures online or by getting a text message after the fact. I have also had my children to a well known fighter’s child’s birthday, because we are truly good friends. You will need to be able to separate who is a business acquaintance and those that are truly your friend.

2. You will open your doors (or launch your site) and the orders will pour in– In a word…no. You will need to have a comprehensive business plan just as you would create for the success of any other business. You will need to build your brand from the ground up. As the sport evolves even further there will be more and more interested parties grabbing a piece of the action. So far, many of these “parties” have been dishonest, greedy and just involved to make a buck but as the sport gains mainstream acceptance there will be more and more legitimate, intelligent and well established companies and business people making their way into the sport we love. What I’m saying is that you will need to step your game up to compete with the big boys. You will need to have a real vision of what you want to accomplish, total beleif and dedication to this vision, the right message, the resources to make it happen, the proper advertising mix of print, online and sponsorships..well you get the picture. But maybe most important of all, aside from all of the logical things I have mentioned you must also be a little crazy. By crazy I mean having the will to stick it out through the lean times and even sticking it out well beyond the point when you should have called it quits.

3. You automatically become a rock star/fighter/celebrity– Again in a word…no. If you weren’t a BJJ Blackbelt before starting your business you won’t become one just by creating TMZ will not be following you to McDonald’s either just because you created Snap, Crackle and Pop Fight Gear. If you are in it to get some attention for yourself you will be very disappointed. Aside from the icons at TapouT how many clothing company owners can you name?

4. Automatic universal worldwide acceptance- So yeah, just start your very own MMA Clothing Line and your set. Just walk into any gym around the world and tell them you want them to carry your new line. Heck, the good folks at Xtreme Couture, Jackson’s, etc. will make room for you right there on the spot. On the way back home stop by the mall and get your stuff in Champ’s (they will put you right in there with TapouT and their friends Premier Fighter). Don’t forget to stop by Buckle and get a few tables next to Affliction and Sinful.

5. It’s so easy anyone could do it– All you have to do to get started is: Work with fighters on sponsorships, work with agents on other sponsorships, create and maintain an effective advertising campaign including managing print and online advertising, create and maintain relationships with advertising agencies including graphic artists (to share and make your vision a reality) the account executives and everyone else in the building, deal with suppliers and their timelines, handling all the legalities including (to name a few) registering the business with all the proper parties, handling and being knowledgeable about all tax implications, trade marking, copyright law, etc. as well as having the capital to keep your upstart business moving forward including but not limited to: inventory, online costs, advertising, staffing (if you are lucky enough to have a staff) and monthly operating expenses that alone could eat you up if you are not careful. All of this on top of having a “real job” until you are making enough to support yourself. So yeah, its pretty easy when you break it all down.”

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