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Our conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
You might have seen a pair of FIERCEPULSE leggings before—maybe being worn by a celebrity, someone at the gym, or in a cute holiday-themed photoshoot on social media. With bold designs, these leggings are hard to miss, and that’s the point. Their mission is to help customers express themselves.
Nenad, CEO and co-founder of FIERCEPULSE, draws inspiration from working with customers: “We have the functional part with the leggings, which are the main product. But it’s also about bringing the fun, inspiring people, helping them on whatever journey they are on and being there to support them.”
We talked to Nenad to learn about his team’s journey to launch FIERCEPULSE—how it became a community of 14.3K people on Instagram, and how they grew to a 7-digit revenue. Their main lesson? You have to be willing to give it your all when starting a clothing brand. Here’s how they did.
Nenad already had experience in ecommerce before launching FIERCEPULSE.
He and his business partner were already running an online store. They were primarily working with dropshipping partners from outside of the USA. The business was fine, but they knew they could do better. They faced a language and culture barrier with their partners, and often experienced inconsistency with their products and delays in shipping—common pain points for their kind of business.
“Things were working fine, but that was really not what we wanted to do. We knew we could do better if we were to find suppliers located in the USA and have a great product and consistency.”
They noticed that leggings were selling well, so they decided to try a different approach. They would work with a print-on-demand partner that supplied consistent, high-quality products and fulfillment centers closer to their audience in the US. With their experience running their first business and knowledge of digital marketing, they felt confident in starting a fitness clothing line.
“We knew digital marketing. We know how to run a website and we were like, let’s just do it and see where the market will take us.”
Nenad got to research, reading blogs and looking for POD names that were out there. Then he found Printful and did his due diligence.
“Who are these guys? What do they do? Is it a 10-person company or is it a big, stable company that knows what they’re doing and that we can rely on them once we hit volume. Then I noticed they had a couple of warehouses located in the USA—I literally went on Google to see if there’s a building associated with the address.”
Nenad saw that Printful had the global reach and scale he was looking for. He relaunched his business, primarily focusing on leggings, and things took off.
“[Printful] has helped us grow tremendously. I would say because we work as one team even though we’re two separate entities. I do feel like with the support we’re getting, we do work as one team and I think that makes this model successful because we’re getting the feedback from the customers and we’re passing that back to the Printful team and then the Printful team improves the product, the offering, and listens to our feedback.”
Nenad was looking for a print-on-demand supplier, and what he got was a true business partner. Printful lets him and his team focus on the things they want—growing their business, working on new products, and cultivating their community.
Nenad’s gamble of closing his old business and opening a new one paid off—he and his team have been able to grow FIERCEPULSE into a thriving business and community. Although it varies by month and seasonality, FIERCEPULSE has hit a revenue of 7 digits year-over-year.
“Currently we’re generating revenue in the 7 digits, working our way up to 8 digits year-over-year.”
They’ve also amassed a vibrant community, with 14.3K followers on Instagram. All you have to do is head over to their reviews page to see how well-loved their products are. Their leggings have even been featured on the Wendy Williams show, and have been worn by celebrities.
For Nenad, the community aspect is the most gratifying part of his business. He draws inspiration from learning how their customers enjoy their products.
“The biggest win is getting reviews from the customers and reading their stories. People are getting inspired, just to go back to the gym or people recovering from surgeries. . . So I consider that as a win, that customers keep coming back and are buying more. That means we’re doing something right.”
The FIERCEPULSE team puts great care into their products and designs. Nenad calls it their secret sauce—they’ve built out a process to create new designs and take multiple factors into consideration.
“We’re not always going for quantity, sometimes for quality and doing what other competitors or other brands haven’t done before. We’re just going the extra mile.”
When it comes to developing new products, first they consider their bandwidth. Although it's easy to create and test designs with Printful, Nenad is still mindful of where he invests his energy. His team puts in a lot of effort in researching and validating their design ideas so they get it right the first time.
They also consider what makes sense in terms of cross-selling: “If you’re a convenience store and you sell coffee, it makes sense to sell sugar too, right? So if you’re offering leggings, you have to offer a sports bra—those two go together.”
Their most important source is customer feedback. They tune in to what their customers are saying, and launch post-purchase surveys to get their opinions. It’s a no-brainer to start with products that people are already asking for.
“At the very beginning, we started with the mid-rise, capris, and yoga leggings. And then customers started asking for leggings with pockets. On every other comment or email, or customer support ticket, they’ll be like, ‘we need leggings with pockets.’ And we knew that’s the next thing that we have to offer.”
Customer engagement is key. Nenad and his team listen to what their customers are asking for, and keep their catalog fresh for repeat customers who keep coming back.
Nenad isn’t alone in running FIERCEPULSE. He has a co-founder and a core team that manages the day-to-day work. One of his main pieces of advice for new sellers is to find a partner who can balance out your skillset, or be ready to hire people in areas that aren’t your strength.
Understanding digital marketing, or working with someone who does, is especially critical. Learning how to run ads is important to get word about your business out there.
“You must have discipline and an open mindset. Be ready to put in the work, learn new things, and figure things out along the way.”
Launching a business isn’t a walk in the park, Nenad says. It takes a lot of drive and dedication to achieve success.
“Be ready to dedicate enough time to make things work, because there will be a lot of challenges along the way. If you don’t see any traction in the beginning, it might not be you, you just have to keep improving things until you hit a breaking point and things start taking off. But it does take a lot of work. The only trap that I see other solopreneurs fall into is thinking that they can run the whole business.”
With Printful, you don't have to run the whole business on your own. You get a partner that focuses on fulfillment and shipping, so you can focus on what matters to you.
Nora has been part of the Printful team since 2015. She has spent the last several years writing content, coordinating communications projects, and helping customers learn about ecommerce. Now as Printful's Brand Manager, she gets to use her experience and knowledge in new and challenging ways.
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