“This pandemic is making a lot of people (economically). Still, it’s causing just as many people to endure sadness and depression, too.
Eleven years ago, Washington, D.C.-based entrepreneur PATisDOPE was an online blogger with a six-figure online fanbase. His followers were hyper-intrigued by rising rappers, sneaker culture, and cut-and-sew fashion. A decade later, he’s being “made” during quarantine via the commercial evolution of his prior interests.
PATisDOPE, born Patrick Blanchard, owns What Should I Call My Store, a Bowie Town Center-based, brick-and-mortar establishment. Like many online-based creators worldwide — he isn’t just dope. He’s successful.
Pat received the keys to his business on January 1, 2020. He tells WI Bridge that he was granted two rent-free months of operation. Given that the first day of COVID-19 quarantine was March 13, it put the new business owner at a bit of a disadvantage. However, due to a rabid following of nearly 200,000 profiles across Instagram and Twitter, he’s excelling.
At COVID’s onset, Vogue Business published a story entitled “Fashion influencers find new opportunities during Covid-19.” In the article, it’s noted that “influencers who can pull in audiences across multiple content categories and do behind-the-scenes creative work for brands will thrive.”
Pat operates a physical store, while serving as an apparel ambassador for legendary retail brand Shoe City. He’s also styling photo shoots and maintaining a hyper-engaged social media presence. Vogue’s prediction, in the case of this local mastermind, is yielding dividends.
“The risk I assumed and the mistakes I made were all part of the groundwork I put in toward my development,” Pat says. “I now have the business structures in place — the brand, the store, the content, the marketing, the means of income, and distribution — to achieve success.”
For those engaging as customers with brands, the experience is undoubtedly reflective of a dynamic that benefits online-first marketers and business owners.
Pat points to his “respectable and highly-engaged fanbase” that has “trusted [him] and [his] content for over a decade” as serving as his retail demographic, marketing database, and a substantial percentage of his consumer base, all-in-one. “Whenever I create content — and I’m creating more than ever — people can hit me up on DM, text the store’s phone number, and order directly from me,” he says.
Pat also notes that COVID forcing most of his store and personal business online has eased his concerns. His store — which finally opened for business last October — is currently open on Thursday through Sunday as a pop-up. During the rest of the week, he’s able to profit from online sales.
The previously mentioned Vogue Business article also notes that roughly three-out-of-five North American brands delayed product and service launches in 2020. Their reasoning ranged from marketing budget constraints to fears that promoting luxury products does not resonate in a time of crisis.
Insofar as his work with brands, Pat highlights that it has been a “roller-coaster ride” of working with companies that initially suffered “major hits” in 2020. Key to both them attempting to reach their bottom-line profit goals and creators staying active with apparel to promote was the impact of customer bases receiving stimulus checks or targeting their spending for traditional in-person retail holidays.
In closing, WI Bridge asked Pat to explain what success as an online-first entrepreneur attempting to conquer real-time consumer interaction will entail in this era. Brands built from the creative minds of multi-hyphenate influencers with broader skillsets stand to expand into a global economy that, before the pandemic, was rumored to range into the amount of $8 billion.
When contemplating how he sees this era sustaining itself at-present, as well as its future, the expanding entrepreneur remains hopeful. His answer distills a decade’s worth of hard-earned, nuanced knowledge into a few sentences.
“This is an unpredictable time that requires being serious about yourself as a business person if you want to excel,” Pat said. “Many people are still making money and receiving free money as there are people who are hurt by the recession. Save as much capital as possible, and find an investor. People are spending less money than usual, but if they trust you and your product, they will still spend.”