Wendy and Wander

Apparel Customization Adds New Revenue Stream for Wendy and Wander

Wendy and Wander   |   Orange County, California

Laura Sims had just gotten married when the company she was working for went through massive layoffs. Sims decided to apply her marketing background to a more family-friendly career, first selling jewelry, then adding apparel sales.  In 2011, she founded Wendy and Wander, a mobile boutique and online store headquartered in Orange County, California. 

In 2020, Sims added direct-to-garment printing capability, selling her customized apparel products on Etsy. This move both grew her product line and guaranteed her a steady income between her mobile events and pop-up boutiques.

We talked with Sims about how she decided to add this powerful customization tool, what direct-to-garment printing has done for her brand, and the positive effects of a more diverse product line on her company’s bottom line.

“The capabilities of this little machine are incredible!”

Please tell us about your journey to founding Wendy & Wander. 
Laura Sims: I had been a working as a marketing manager for a printer toner company. Due to the poor economic conditions in 2009, there was a lot of downsizing. Half the staff was cut, and I was laid off. 

At that time, I was a newlywed and I wanted to find a career that would work well with a family schedule. I started out by selling jewelry and then added clothing, using a “mobile boutique” concept. I founded my company, Wendy and Wander, in 2011. Now I do local events and pop-ups around my kids’ schedules, and I also sell products online.  I let interested clients know about my events in advance through social media.

What led you to producing your own direct-to-garment designs?  
I was looking to expand my product line and level out my income stream.  My husband and I attended a trade show for various manufacturers of garment decorating equipment. We tried out different printers, engravers and embroidery machines. I decided that the Roland DG VersaStudio BT-12 direct-to-garment printer made the most sense for my business; the printer is compact, easy to use, and it looked like it would be really fun to print my own stuff.

How has DTG printing worked out for you?
The capabilities of this little machine are incredible! And it’s super user-friendly. I have always enjoyed the artistic side of design, and my Photoshop and Illustrator designs transfer seamlessly.  

How do you market your customized designs?
Honestly, the marketing is a lot less effort than what I need to do to market my store’s pop-up events.  I sell my direct-to-garment printed aprons through my Etsy store. I really just set it up and watch orders come in. I’ve had my BT-12 for two years now, and each year, the sales for these products almost double. 

It’s really nice to have a steady stream of income from these custom products, especially during times when I don’t do as many pop-up events, like during the holiday season.

Has maintenance been easy for you?  
In almost two years I haven’t had to replace any ink cartridges or do any maintenance on my BT-12 at all. I hope it continues to be that easy – everything else has been!

What colors do you use most often?

I have mostly printed black lettering so far. The secondary one I use is the leopard print, which always comes out well. What’s nice with the BT-12 is that, when you hit print, you get exactly what you see on your screen.

What types of garments/apparel do you decorate with your BT-12? 
Currently, we only offer customized aprons.  I probably will expand, but aprons seem to be a sweet spot for my business. If I were going to add a product, it would probably be customized makeup bags.

What trends for DTG designs are you seeing?  
Our customers tend to like the classics, like “Plant lady,” “Grandma Chef,” “Mini Chef,” etc. We also sell a lot of products with wittier phrases, like “Daddio of the Patio.” People seem to like these types of designs for gifting.

Do you offer custom DTG printing if a customer requests it?
  
I do offer personalized designs. Customers can send me a picture and I can print it for them, or I’m happy to create a custom design if they’d like a superhero theme or something like that.  I really enjoy being able to provide customers with exactly what they’re looking for.

Do you do any wholesale DTG printing? 
We have a lot of friends with small businesses, and we offer custom printing for them – items like tote bags with their store’s logo.  Because I’m busy with my own orders, I tend to stay away from really large wholesale orders – I mostly do 100 pieces or less.   

What lies ahead for you?
My husband and I are renovating a trailer so I can bring my store to events and have an office wherever I need one. We named this shop after my eldest daughter, Wendy, and we now have another daughter, so we’ll need to name the next one after her.