Five months after launching, the Eagles apparel brand created by two besties scored $104K in sales.
by Ana Welsh, business editor
Hard work, momentum, communication – and five kids – sums up the last five months for McKernan and Dortone. In August 2022, Dortone came up with the idea of starting an apparel business. She pitched it to McKernan who was intrigued – and quickly came onboard. Three days later, they formed an LLC and decided to name their self-funded company The Dimes Club “because everyone is a 10 out of 10 in our eyes,” said Dortone.
Their mission is to design apparel for families, with quality and affordability in mind. “We wanted to dress our friends and family in stuff we would wear,” said McKernan. “We have the same quirky vibe and that sets us apart from other brands. We wanted to offer crew necks that are unique, and that you don’t have to break the bank to buy.”
The women got to work right away. “From the moment I open my eyes to after I put my kids to sleep, I’m working on the business,” Dortone explained. “Yesterday, I brought my three kids to Meg’s house, and we worked from 10 am to 4 pm. We are always planning, we have a shared space online, we divide and conquer and sometimes we share responsibilities.”
One large, shared responsibility: design and communication. “We are very honest with each other,” Dortone explained. “If I share a design with Meg that she doesn’t like, she’ll just tell me, and we’ll keep working at it.”
In fact, it was a few weeks into their business when McKernan designed a wavy “dancing on my own” sweatshirt during the Phillies’ Red October season. That design became red hot and their best seller. Within a few weeks, The Dimes Club sold 500 sweatshirts. “We got so much momentum from that point forward,” said McKernan. “It put us on the map. It was a game changer.”
They quickly learned, however, that they had to dance around the world of trademarking. “As sales were blowing up, we quickly realized that we purchased the Phillies P from an illegitimate source and morally we didn’t think that was right,” explained McKernan. “So, we tweaked the P to continue supporting the demand in sales.”
Selling sports apparel without the proper licensing can be a fine line to walk. “We have tried to be very conscious of what is already trademarked, and we never want to cross that line,” explained Dortone.
Dortone said that the term “Go Birds” just got trademarked December 28th, two days after they fulfilled a bulk order with that design. Both women admitted to getting discouraged with their limitations. They choose to focus on making the best of it by using the word “fly,” lyrics from the fight song, and “the bird gang,” all of which are their most popular designs.
Dedication is at the heart of their business game. Right now, their sales are mostly from Etsy, local vendors and pop-up shops. “During the Phillies’ winning streak, we were selling clothes outside of my front door,” said Dortone. Most of the apparel is sourced in the US, specifically California, and a local print shop started by two guys who went to their high school. “It’s hard to source small crewneck sizes for kids that still have great quality,” explained McKernan.
McKernan, who has two kids, comes from a corporate fashion merchandising background and currently works for herself as a network marketer. Dortone, a mother of three, works full-time at an insurance company. Both co-founders admit that success hasn’t come easy, noting their biggest challenges are time and resources. “I could work on this all day and night,” McKernan said. “I wish we could hire more staff to help us get more done.”
But that hasn’t stopped them from building and growing a business, all while raising a family. “It’s a full-time job on top of our day jobs, taking care of our kids and being a wife, daughter and friend,” said Dortone. “But it doesn’t feel like work. We love it so much, it’s our baby, we see the vision and it’s worth it.”
While this started as a side hustle for them, they have big plans for the next phase of their business. They plan to build their own website to eliminate Etsy service fees and personalize their customers’ experiences. “Our goal is to expand into becoming a prominent online boutique while working with different vendors,” stated McKernan.
For now, they continue to work hard, follow their dreams and help their business fly.
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