In the fall of 2014, I was truly challenged by my company for the first time in 6 months of launching it. It was really easy to print on tanks and tees during the spring and summer months. For the very few months DNDL was in business, I kept thinking “This is breeze! There is basically one blank company to choose from, I’ll just keep cycling colors forever!”. [Shout out to Next Level Apparel].
Wrong. This couldn’t be more wrong. Winter came.
Next thing you know, I am learning about long sleeves, thermals, sweat pants, hoodies, and more. It went from ONE racerback style and ONE t-shirt style, to countless styles in several fabrics. I was seeing fabric blends I had never heard of, as I dug through Next Level’s website for hours trying to figure out how to design fall and winter apparel. I was Googling the shit out of fabrics for days in hopes to try to learn more about the industry I had somehow found myself in. I went from calculating macros, to watching YouTube videos about fabric manufacturing in less than a week.
I came across a long sleeve hooded t-shirt on the Next Level website. I couldn’t really tell what it was, but I saw that it was tri-blend, and at the time I knew enough to know that meant “soft as fuck”. So, I text my printer a picture of it, and ordered it in three colors with the DNDL Badge front chest print and full back print. The printer advised me against it. Apparently, the garment wasn’t the best looking one. But I cared more about the comfort than anything, as I knew how I was going to market it.
They showed up, and just as I suspected, they were in fact soft as fuck. They also fit terribly, ha. They had absolutely NOTHING special about them aside from the comfort. And the Doughnuts & Deadlifts Warm-Up Hoodie was born!
I coined the name because I knew I would probably only wear the thing for layering over my training clothes in the warmer months while I warmed up to lift. I assumed they would not be a hot seller. I uploaded them onto the Big Cartel site (yes, DNDL started with Big Cartel), posted to Instagram, and they sold out in about one hour. I was dumbfounded. Nothing "high quantity" had ever sold so quickly. (I put that in quotes because the quantities and sales volume of your business are only relative to where you have previously been. What was high then is a sample run for us now. Keep that in mind if you are reading this and you own an apparel company... patience. The volume and large PO's will come.)
Thus, they became the main staple of the DNDL fall and winter collections year after year. Here we are, three years later and the DNDL Warm-Up Hoodies are still our best-selling items. People wait for them all year, start asking about them in August, and the first two runs always fly on drop day.
I love that everyone loves the garment and how we have marketed it. But… I don’t want DNDL to be what you wear to warm up in, then tossed off to the side when it is time to lift. I want it to be what you TRAIN in. So, we took the Warm-Up hoodie—that you all love so much—and we gave it an upgrade. We gave it an athletic fit through the upper torso and sleeves. We gave it thumbholes so you can pull another layer over it effortlessly. We added a front pouch to give it a more desirable look. We went with silicone logos and banding opposed to screen printed in order to ensure this hoodie lasts a life time.
Lastly, we upgraded the overall quality with an enhanced fabric blend. Softer. You read that right, it is now SOFTER. More durable. Sweat wicking. You will only ever have to buy one… until you find you love it so much that you need it in several colors.
We have been working on this launch since June. It has been expensive, time consuming, stressful, and an absolute blast. Opening the boxes from the factory was a surreal moment.
We have to rename this hoodie now that it isn't only for warming up in... bitter sweet.