“Your hard work is a direct reflection on your products.”
We’ve all seen the funny tees imprinted with something like my grandma went to Luckenbach and all I got was this lousy t-shirt. Not that there is anything wrong with going to Luckenbach, but there is something terribly wrong with gifting a lousy t-shirt.
But what are you supposed to do if you want a tee that’s fun and maybe even a little funky? Something a little different that isn’t mass produced. Something that captures your absolute essence in a sassy and comfy tee. You contact Cece Lively, that’s what you do.
Cece is the founder, the creator, the designer, the mastermind, the genius behind Lively Designs, something she likes to refer to as a little business started from people loving my tees locally!
And seriously, what’s not to love! Lively Designs has simply-stated tees imprinted with but first coffee, farm fresh or choose joy, but also the fun, got-it-goin’-on tees imprinted with wake-pray-slay or mama needs wine. The best part is custom tee orders are accepted. They are actually encouraged.
There’s so much love for Cece’s tees that she was invited to participate as a vendor in the 2017 Spring at the Silos event at the Waco Magnolia Market, hosted by Joanna Gaines. Yes, you read that right, the Joanna Gaines.
But to grasp the full magnitude of this home-grown success story, we have to back up a little bit. Long story short… Cece grew up in Orlando, but she likes to tell people that she came to Texas just as soon as she could. She received her masters in education administration from Baylor University and is currently teaching a lucky group of fifth graders the joy of math at Robinson Intermediate School.
In October 2016 Cece made a fun tee at the request of her daughter. She posted a picture of the tee on Facebook thinking maybe she could bring in a little extra money making custom tees.
A friend from Houston saw the picture and asked to share it via Instagram. The friend wanted to do a tee giveaway via Instagram, but in order to do that Cece had to create an Etsy page. Cece was resistant, but ultimately she created a Lively Designs Etsy page.
Initially, it was hard for Cece to give away her tees. But that Instagram giveaway was the catalyst for something bigger. Much bigger.
After the Instagram giveaway, Lively Designs had 15 tee orders on Etsy. Just like that, people were going crazy for the comfy, made-with-a-personal-touch tees. And Cece was carving a definite niche for Lively Designs. While there are a ton of really awesome tee makers on Etsy, most have minimum order requirements of 12-15 tees. Cece decided Lively Designs would forgo the sometimes complicated minimum order requirement. She says, “I’m not afraid to do a custom order with just one or two tees!”
Cece was well aware that just because one item did well on Etsy, success was not a guarantee. But she figured that if a shirt did well locally, then there was a good chance that folks would like it online as well.
Her marketing plan was simple, yet ingenious — post pictures of the newest tee creations on social media and direct folks to the Etsy page. That strategy worked well. From October – December, Lively Designs sold about 1,000 tees.
Holy guacamole! Cece wasn’t prepared for that kind of growth pace. She had to take a few steps back and create a business plan and set some goals for a healthy balance for family, teaching and Etsy.
Cece wrapped up 2016 on such a high note, she set a 2017 sales goal of 10,000 tees. It was an ambitious goal, but she was determined to jump in feet-first and go for it. She continued her marketing strategy utilizing social media, but word-of-mouth soon became one of Lively Designs’ biggest assets. So much so, that Cece was personally invited by Joanna Gaines to participate in the March 2017 Magnolia Market Spring at the Silos event. This three-day event, featured 65 amazing artisan vendors from across the country. And Lively Designs had a booth right in the middle of it all.
This was one of those once-in-a-lifetime, mind-blowing kind of opportunities for this small-town businesswoman. Cece sold more than 700 tees in those three days at the Silos. And she came home to another 100 Etsy orders.
This spring, Cece also tested the waters with a hands-on buying experience for her customers. Lively Designs now has a rental space at the local, downtown Waco hot-spot Sironia. Sironia is a fabulous boutique-type lunch destination with to-die-for desserts and fun, artisan shopping.
It’s looking like Lively Designs is getting closer and closer to that ambitious 2017 sales goal. Cece credits her success to her entrepreneurial parents, supportive friends, loads of hard work and fun. She says, “The hard work is paying off, but most importantly I’m having fun too!”
Sayonara to lousy, boring tees! And hello to Lively Designs.
For more information about Free Enterprise at the Baugh Center, please visit our website at baylor.edu/business/freeenterprise/