Joseph Drolick has the heart and mind of an entrepreneur. Not yet out of college, he has ran more businesses than most would even consider in a lifetime.
And while many serial entrepreneurs only want to talk about ‘the numbers,’ Joseph prefers to talk about inspiration.
His latest venture is Stoic Shirt – a self-started, one-man clothing company that is more than just a brand.
It’s a philosophy in action.
We took a moment to talk to him about overcoming failure, achieving success, the dedication capable of turning one into the other, and the Zyro website that helped him to do it.
This is the only successful thing I’ve ever done
It all started in 2019. I had just finished my freshman year in college, summer was coming around and I was thinking about ways to make some extra money and have fun at the same time.
As a marketing student, I’m always looking for ways to find my inspiration in business. Over the past few years, I have tried to start many businesses and I’m not afraid to say that a lot of them have failed.
A big part of starting any business is learning from your mistakes. I knew that every time an idea didn’t quite work out, it meant that I was getting closer to something that would.
My step-dad is my inspiration
He is an incredibly hard worker. Ever since he’s been in my life, he’s always pushed me to be a hard worker too.
So, even though I had these failed attempts at businesses in the past, I never once thought about giving up.
Seeing him work as hard as he does and the success that attitude has brought him inspired me to do the same.
I’ve never been short of ideas, I just needed to find the right tools to express it.
Then I found Zyro
I had only ever made one website before Stoic.
I had started a dropshipping business selling jerseys and I needed a website to go along with it, but I just couldn’t get it off the ground.
Looking back, I was really just dipping my toes into the water when it came to website design. Between that and starting a new business, it was always going to be tough to stay on top of things.
When I started Stoic, there were so many platforms out there that I could have picked. Everyone knows about Shopify and Wix, and naturally, I thought about those too.
But, I really needed something that was going to be straightforward to use so that I could focus the majority of my time on my business.
I decided to give Zyro a try.
The customer service was absolutely unmatched
Any time I had a problem, I knew I could talk to the customer success team and I always felt like a priority.
So often when you’re looking for support you end up talking to a robot. With Zyro, I could tell that I was talking to a real person.
That was important because, in the beginning, I ran into quite a few problems with the website. I just couldn’t put my finger on what I wanted.
It’s not always easy to find an answer when you’re not even sure of the question but the advice was always helpful and it kept me going at some points.
This time, I know that I know I’m going to follow through
This is my first product-based business, while in the past, I had always tried to focus on providing services.
One idea was to improve small businesses’ visibility on Google. I was essentially trying to give them a better shot at ranking on the algorithm.
In terms of the technical aspects, it was exactly the kind of business that I was more familiar with.
So, you can imagine that when I changed track and started a business where I was in control of designing, creating, and delivering a product from scratch, I wasn’t sure what to expect at all.
I ran my business from my dorm room
I bought a little heat press and I had all of my stock boxed-up in my dorm room.
Since day one, it has been just me running the whole business but things have moved on little ways since then.
Once I got my business online, it became a lot easier to manage. Essentially, I found that I could reach out to anyone with no problem.
When you’re running a one-man enterprise in a difficult niche, the littlest things can make a big difference.
I was walking into a saturated market
With all the different brands out there, I knew I had to make Stoic stand out.
I started to focus on a very minimalistic design style. I saw a market for it that I thought I could tap into.
I thought about what was popular and the way that people are influenced these days.
One of the big platforms for my target market is TikTok and I noticed that a lot of the big names and content creators there were wearing clothes with minimal designs.
So, I took one word – Stoic – and ran with it.
To me, the Stoic philosophy means accepting the things that you can’t control and taking action in the things that you can.
It’s more than that of course, but it is something that you hear from successful people time and time again and not just in business.
I admired those people and wanted to emulate those values in a physical form.
It’s always work in progress
You can always change and there’s always room for improvement. It’s part of the mantra of my brand and it applies across the board.
Part of creating your own business is learning how to take responsibility.
Obviously, I could have hired someone to make my website for me but when you start creating a website yourself you can really take control.
In the end, you have a website that looks unique and feels like it belongs to you and your brand.
In many aspects, creating a website is similar to creating a business.
If it fails, it fails. That is on you.
It’s a motivator that puts the ball in your court to be the best that you can be. The other side is that when you have success, it feels that much better.
One of my favorite parts of the process was how easily I could tweak things and make changes. I learned a lot by just sitting down and doing it.
My first sale was to my biggest inspiration
My step-dad handed me a twenty-dollar bill and said “I want one of those shirts on your website.”
That was a big moment for me in terms of validation for the work that I had put into creating the product and creating the platform.
After that, word started to spread on social media and through my own networks that my website was up and running. Soon enough I got my first online sale.
As you might expect, it was someone from my hometown in Illinois.
But that feeling when the notification popped up on my phone is something that I’ll never forget.
That was when it sunk in that I was really doing this, and that I was going to make some money too.
You have to put your foot on the gas
You can never actually know if you’re going to be successful or not and you can sit at home and lie in your bed and think about different ideas all day long.
Sure, you can make business plans and projections about success but you’re only ever going to truly know what you’re capable of when you experience it.
One of the t-shirts that I made has a little quote on it that says:
“There’s no experience without experiment.”
That’s something that drives me.
Whether it’s in everyday life, or in business, you’re never going to experience anything without first venturing out into the unknown.