More colors please!

Posted on July 12 2020

Colors

And now a little straight talk on a topic almost everyone has an opinion about: COLOR.

Here's a clip from a recent review of our Forever Organic Scoop Neck Tee that's representative of many similar comments (thanks Julie!): "I would buy twenty of these tees if there were more colors!"

Color inspires lots of suggestions. More colors, brighter colors, darker colors, softer colors, more vibrant colors, a navy that's more blue, a navy that's less blue. It's totally understandable! Color is very personal.

Offering more colors is a delicate balancing act. If a small business like ours gets it wrong and grows its color offering too quickly, it can lead to significant stock shortages in the staple colors that typically form the foundation of the business and ironically lead to more customers being disappointed.

To explain this, I'll go into the weeds a bit. If you don't like math, this may be where you get off the bus! For simplicity's sake, let's say from our last production we sold 100 t-shirts in 4 colors like this:
4 colors
Now let's say we want to add 4 more colors. In a perfect world, we'd simply make 200 t-shirts instead of 100 and double our sales. But a well-known dynamic in apparel is that sales will probably grow at about half the rate as color offering. So if you increase colors by 100%, sales will probably grow by more or less 50%. So we would plan the 8-color production of 150 tees, not 200. Furthermore, production minimums dictate that the lowest quantity of any color we make has to be 16. So when we divide up the new pie, proven colors like black and white get a little less than they did last time.
8 colors
In the example here, we make 24 black and 24 white. But we have shown in our history we can sell 30 and 30. So there's the potential to disappoint 12 customers. Multiply this example by 100's and 1000's and you can see the potential for lots of disappointments. Furthermore, with fabric there is a minimum amount per color that has to be dyed. So what often happens in a business our size is we have to make four times as much yellow or pink fabric as we need.


It's a constant jigsaw puzzle. But we recently put our heads together (virtually) with our makers in Peru and we have some ideas how we can smartly, incrementally grow our color offering, while protecting the staple colors no one gets excited about, but almost everyone buys. Our journey to Julie's dream of 20 colors is under way!

Robert Behnke
Co-Founder & President

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