Shaun Spivey spent his early years as a blue-collar worker, operating machines and not thinking too much about fashion. However, he found a way to learn basic graphic design skills that he could use to create stickers, signs, and a tone of things just for fun. Until he decided to retire early and create a way to supplement his income by transitioning this hobby into a business.
Shaun self-thought about screen printing and started perfecting the technique, but he was clear that he would need as much support as he could find to make his dream come through. A faculty member of Troy University suggested he call the SBDC at Troy and try to find out what resources were available to him.
He definitely made the right decision and reached out to the center, where he got in touch with the Director, Juliana Bolivar. Spivey shared his journey until that day and his dreams about growing his current activity into a brand. He was making between $800 and $2,500 a month at this point but wanted to keep growing in the right way. During their first meeting Juliana provided him with general management advice, to create processes to better keep track of his finances, community relations approach, and production process.
He was referred to Will Pouncy as his advisor to start strategizing about the best ways to grow Small Town Graphics. Pouncey immediately knew that Shaun had the potential to accomplish his goals and he was more knowledgeable than he gave himself credit for. He would be open to feedback and implement the advice received, concluding that his two main strategic actions to grow his business were to focus efforts on developing his brand and creating a website that he could manage without creating major costs to add new products or content.
His passion for small-town culture and country living has birthed the brand, The Small-Town Life. His dream was always to have a clothing line that represented this special way of living. “There was always that dream of having a clothing line with designs that reflected our way of living. I’ve always enjoyed small-town life, and that dream led me to where we are today.”
In one of the SBDC Team meetings, the director and advisors were strategizing about new clients and brainstorming ways to help and collaborate to provide the services and boosts which clients need. Pouncey shared that he had been spending a significant amount of time with Small Town Graphics and investing time in those 2 goals would make a significant difference in this business.
Although Shaun had the idea of a website, he did not have the WordPress knowledge to maintain it and it was an overwhelming expense for his business. Shopify was a better alternative and we gave green light to this dedicated process. Will and Shaun discussed several times the vision for the website that would display both his brand, The Small-Town Life, and his custom graphics business, Small Town Graphics.
To pull this off, his SBDC Advisor to help him create and implement a plan to build a great website and establish a digital presence. “We have worked together to design a beautiful website. This has allowed The Small Town Life to open its e-commerce sales channel. It has also become an outlet for Small Town Graphics to receive quote requests from customers about custom merchandise they need completed.”
Bringing the Small-Town charm to apparel and custom design since 2019, Shaun is just at the beginning of his journey. His products have just been received and put on the racks by major local retailers Sikes and Kohn. For Shaun, getting into Sikes and Kohn was a milestone, showing that people do love what his brand stands for and that the small-town folks identify with his message and style. His products have been placed in a store in South Carolina and he is in conversations with Walkers.
As Small Town Graphics continued to grow, Will Pouncey has become a support for Shaun to obtain advice on ways to manage his finances, understand his breakeven point, client relations and growth strategy as well as legally protect his brand. Spivey has reached out to the SBDC expressing his desire to participate in educational opportunities that would allow his wife and administrative support partner, to improve her QuickBooks skills.
As Shaun is very passionate about his brand and clients, he is very appreciative to have experts whom he can ask questions as they come. His process allowed him to grow his sales to $5,000 to $8,000 per month. He has become an expert in what he does, but growth comes with its own challenges. However, the Small Business Development Center has become an ally to support the impact of small businesses in their communities.
I appreciate that I can connect with SBDC experts when I have questions. I look around my shop and I see equipment and inventory that means debt, but with the support of the SBDC team I can also see the opportunity in the business and a plan to make it viable.”