How To Start A Business With No Money With Stock MFG Clothing

So today’s article is about ‘How To Start A Business With No Money With Stock MFG Clothing’. I have been following Stock MFG for a while on Instagram (be sure to check out this beautiful feed of images) and decided to contact them and ask them some questions about the history of their brand and find out some tips they have and strategies they used to turn this clothing brand into a success.

I spoke with one of the original founders, Jim Snediker and inside this amazing interview, you will hear some really great advice about social media, starting a business with a zero marketing budget, how to start a business with no money, alternate revenue streams and a look at the history of the brand and some of their amazing, high-quality products.

I am really enjoying contacting business to find out what advice and tips they have to offer and it’s yielding some valuable returns. Next week I have another creative interview and also an interview with the founder of Crowd Crux (if you would like to listen to the Crowd Crux interview now, then you can listen to Salvador Briggman’s latest podcast here).

If you would like to download my award-winning magazine then sign up to the newsletter here and you will have access to the Free Resource library and the 128-page digital magazine, featuring interviews with Justin Maller, Sam Garrett, Devin Super Tramp and much more.

How To Start A Business With No Money With Stock MFG Clothing


The Beginning of Stock MFG


Stock MFG clothing began just over three years ago when five men founded the company. Jim Snediker and Jason Morgan ran an online e-commerce business, whilst Tim Tierney and Michael Morarity were in the process of starting a menswear brand. The fifth founder, Areill Ives, owned the factory that linked the other four founders.

Jim and Jason were utilising the factory whilst Tim and Michael was working on a vertically integrated menswear brand with Areill. It just so happens that Jim and Jason were heading to the factory to talk about a new e-commerce idea and ended up getting together with the other three founders. Jim and Jason had experience in marketing, sales and had a retail background and were the missing link that was holding the other three back.


Behind the Name


Whilst conducting this interview with Jim, he gave me some great historical context when explaining how the name Stock MFG came to be. The name is drawn from the Chicago union stockyards.

“The stockyards were what helped build Chicago into the major city that it is today. If you don’t know, the stockyards were where all the pigs and cows were butchered through the 19th and half way through the 20th century. So the stockyards were sort of the epicentre for blue-collar job creation. Irish and Italian immigrants were getting jobs in the stockyards and that was the backbone of how Chicago was created,” stated Jim.

The stockyards also created a lot of business innovation. Henry Ford came up with the idea for the assembly line from walking through some of the butcher lines in the stockyards and the Chicago commodities exchange was founded by people speculation which slaughterhouse would have the biggest yield of the season.

The name Stock MFG stems from Chicago’s historical roots, innovation, and creation.

The Brand Launch


So Stock MFG had their name and had their team, but they were trying to launch a clothing brand with very little money. During the initial stages, they were taking old fabrics that were lying around the factory and cutting them up. Their marketing strategy (which is coming up in another paragraph) also needed to be based on a very little budget.

Jim told me that he specifically remembered their first ever customer and it became before their official launch (their official launch being when they launched the Stock MFG website in February 2016). Before the launch of their website, Stock MFG (the founders) attended a street festival in July and August 2012 and had a small booth set up selling ties and pocket squares.

“I remember the girl specifically, she had a nose ring, a couple of tattoos, was really cute and we were selling these ties out of wooden boxes we made and they were engraved with our logo on the top and they looked really cool. She said, ‘My boyfriend would love that tie,’ and we took a picture with her and if you go all the way back on our Instagram feed then you will probably be able to find that picture.

But in Jim’s eyes, the brand was officially validated at the end of December 2012. They did a small pop-up shop, selling a lot more stuff such as t-shirts and some ties. They managed to make $2,500 in sales in one day and had a lot of great feedback from people who liked the quality of their fabrics.

Stock MFG’s Differentiator


Jim feels that Stock MFG’s differentiator is that they are delivering a higher-end brand experience at an approachable price point. Their focus is creating contemporary products of classic menswear pieces, for example, using waxed cotton instead of normal wool for their double-breasted pea coats.

They try to set themselves apart with the high-end fabrics they are using and the top of the line construction methods. The whole process is also all done within the US and with the brand selling direct to consumer, rather than wholesale, it enables them to sell the products for around half the price that they would be sold directly to a store.

Marketing and How To Start A Business With No Money


I noticed that Stock MFG had built up their brand in such a short space of time and also stated that they started with very little money. I wanted to know how they were able to do this and the next half of this article looks at the strategies they used, how they used social media and any advice Jim was willing to share with me.

Stock MFG began with no money and was mostly run self-funded (they now have some outside capital but the company has mostly been built up through sales). At the start of the business lifespan, they contacted influencers with big Instagram followings or a Tumblr that was receiving a lot of traffic and created exclusive collaborations with them.

“We will go ‘hey let’s do a three piece range for this upcoming fall. You handle all the marketing and getting the word out and we will handle the production and pay you a commission on what sells’.”

That’s how they were able to get the company up-and-running. They used their skills and assets with people who could get the word out about them without it costing anything to them. That particular influencer only gets paid through commissions, so the more they are spreading the word about Stock MFG, the more sales the brand will get, meaning the more commissions that influencer will get paid.

“The biggest thing we have ever gone through was starting a clothing company with no money in the bank.”

As time has gone on they got involved with bigger and bigger projects. Just last autumn they did a project with a large beer brand in the states called Miller High Life. “They put a large marketing budget behind it and we did something really cool for them. That’s how we have leveraged social media, our assets, and skills without having much or a large marketing budget.”

Since 2013 Stock has also been getting out into public view to try and get their brand in front of new people. From their very first customer at a street festival, to opening pop-up shops all over the states and even one in Moscow last winter.

“We are always trying to get in front of new people and do interesting things. Pop-up shops are tough and it isn’t an easy way to get attention; it’s kind of old school, just traveling around and getting in front of new people. For an up-and-coming brand, we found that to be a great way to gain awareness, to just get out there and get in front of new people.”

Another way Stock is getting their name out there is through doing business-to-business work. They manufacture uniforms for a lot of higher-end hospitality companies such as SoHo House, where they have created their uniforms from the ground up. This has helped grow their brand awareness, especially in Chicago.

“We work with really cool companies and if you go on their websites you can see that we try to create really engaging blog content too”.

Stock are clearly using multiple forms of marketing to get the name of their company out there, from contacting influencers to creating shareable blog content that gets their name in front of new people.

Social Media


Jim admitted that social media is an area that they need to improve on, but they are still using platforms such as Instagram very well (their Instagram account is one of the main reason I still follow what this brand is up to).

They haven’t seen very good returns with Twitter in terms of driving traffic or making sales, but they do have a strategy for Facebook. Their Facebook page is constantly sharing new releases, any press or news about the brand or upcoming events. Jim said that he sees the Stock MFG Facebook page as an “extension of the website”.

Stock MFG’s best social media network is Instagram, with their ‘through the eyes of the brand approach’. “We certainly put professional images on Instagram but we also do a lot of stuff through the iPhone. We may upload a picture of a car that we think is cool or we go to a bar and like the décor, we try to make our Instagram more personal and see what Stock is like living through the brand.”

I highly recommend you follow their Instagram account.

Business advice


When interviewing business I always like to ask them what advice they have for someone looking at starting a similar business or a business in general. This normally results in some valuable pieces of advice. If you were to go through some of my previous business interviews such as Reality Dreams, Topo and Hidden you will also find the same.

I asked this particular question to Jim and this was his response:

“The one thing I would definitely say is that if you have a day job, don’t quit it until you have started to make some sales. Everyone wants to jump into it full-time and that’s what we did, but it makes things a lot harder when you don’t have another source of income because you're not going to make money off your clothing brand right away. So I would say if you want to quit your job and want to work on it during the day then have a bartending job lined up for a few nights a week first. That’s something I can’t stress enough, don’t just quit your job and think that you're going to make money on clothes right away because it’s going to take time.
“The other piece of advice is to look for as many different revenue streams as possible. Don’t just say we are only going to sell online or only sell to stores, do pop-up events, do trunk shows, street festivals, have a good website, you can get websites done for really cheap nowadays. If a hotel wants to buy 50 of your dresses, sell to the fucking hotel; make money wherever you can make it and get your brand out there, just make sure it makes sense to your brand.”




Stock MFG is a clothing brand that has a great history, are using marketing strategies that have proven results, have a beautiful Instagram feed and have a lot going for them in the future. They are deep into the process of opening up their own factory that is optimised for quick turn around times so they can experiment with some more stuff for their brand.

I feel that when brands have character and a story, you tend to attach yourself to them more as opposed to big corporate chains. With Stock MFG and finding out the story of their name of the stockyards and seeing what the people behind the brand are seeing through their Instagram feed, you feel like your not just buying products from a brand but actual people. I personally feel you are more likely to buy from people as opposed to faceless brands (and that’s one of the reasons why I changed this blog and gave it a more personal touch – read more here).

This is also one of the reasons why so many brands are jumping on the Snapchat bandwagon. It’s the most exciting social media platform of 2016 so far and allows people to see brands and business through the eyes of the people behind them, giving them a more personal touch (Snapchat is definitely something I’m looking to utilise in the near future for this blog).

There are some really valuable pieces of advice within this article such as how Stock MFG were able to start their business with no money or a marketing budget, getting your brand in front of as many people as possible, using multiple revenue streams and even humanising your brand through social media.

I hope you enjoyed reading this on how to start a business with no money with Stock MFG. If you would like more then be sure to sign up for my newsletter here. By signing up to my newsletter you gain access to the free resource library where you can download my award-winning digital magazine, writing advice from a Hollywood screenwriter, blogging from one of the UK’s largest blogs and even a discount code for Issue 2 of 99 Percent Lifestyle.

Photos used in this article were used with permission from Stock MFG. Follow everything Stock MFG is up to on the following social media handles:


What is your favorite independent clothing brand? Let me know in the comments section.

Thanks for reading.